Imperial College London

Seventy years of Humanities at the College celebrated at exhibition launch


Crowd gathered for Humanities event

The Imperial String Quartet opened the evening with a performance of Mozart

Artists, musicians, linguists & more gathered at Imperial on 3 March to celebrate its history of teaching Humanities alongside scientific excellence.

The Humanities@70 campaign is a programme of events and exhibitions open to the College community and the general public throughout 2020, offering opportunities for the curious-minded to dive into Imperial's history in Humanities and the Arts.

Humanities has been offered at the College since the 1950s, through various groups over the years, including today the Blyth Centre, Centre for Academic EnglishScience Communication Unit and Centre for Languages, Culture and Communication (CLCC).

Teachers past and present helped produce a new pop-up exhibition in the College's Exhibition Road atrium, featuring an immersive timeline of Imperial's Humanities offering to students. The exhibition will be open from 2 - 6 March 2020 and will be followed by special talks such as The Art and Science of Saving Venice, as well as a number of other symposiums and concerts over the spring and summer.

  • Professor Roberto Trotta

    Professor Roberto Trotta opened proceedings

  • Students present projects at the exhibition

    Students presented their projects at the launch event

A celebratory evening

Opening proceedings at the College's South Kensington campus, Professor Roberto Trotta, Director of the CLCC, said: "This year-long programme of events celebrates the history of Humanities at Imperial, 70 years after the visionary Touchstone Weekends at Silwood Park. But we also look at the future, reflecting on the importance of Humanities and the Arts amongst STEMM education in the 21st century.

"From small beginnings, the cultural and intellectual life of the College continues to be enriched by this varied offering to our students."

The College's Provost, Professor Ian Walmsley, reflected on his own surprise at Imperial's Humanities offering: "I remember some 40 years ago being delighted to find I was able to take lessons in the Russian language while an undergraduate. At the time much of the world's Physics research was published in the Soviet Union.

"Then as now, one might have expected to find world-class STEMM education at the College, but not necessarily the world-class Arts and Humanities education that I had discovered to be on offer.

"There is a real risk that universities and education become a commodity, rather than an expression of human endeavour. Programmes such as this are critically important to fostering new sources of ideas."

"I thank Roberto for his leadership these past years and look forward to the College celebrating the next 70 years of Humanities!"

Imperial's Humanities through the years

The College's Vice-Provost (Education), Professor Simone Buitendijk, said: "Prior to joining the College I worked as an expert in maternal and child health. Through that experience, of working not only with healthcare professionals but also for example cultural anthropologists, I've learned the true value of joining up how we solve problems as a society."

"Through our new I-Explore modules, which are soon to be launched for our undergraduates, we have a great opportunity to build on the work done by Roberto and others. Our students will be global leaders in their fields, and we all know our planet urgently needs graduates that understand the value of working together."

Find out more about the Humanities@70 range of public events and get involved.


Murray MacKay

Murray MacKay
Communications and Public Affairs


Comms-strategy-Learning-and-teaching, Arts, Strategy-share-the-wonder, Comms-strategy-Wider-society, Strategy-educational-experience, Education
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