• The Project

The quality of the knowledge base of the Arts and Humanities – its claim to inform and reflect the historic and contemporary world – is dependent upon its capacity to reflect the breadth and diversity of human experience.

In the UK, however, Black and Minority Ethnic groups are under-represented in research-intensive universities and in research leadership roles in these fields. If the Arts and Humanities are to reflect the interests, histories, cultures and experiences of Black and Minority Ethnic groups from insider perspectives, therefore, action needs to be taken. Such action necessarily includes widening participation, action on the curriculum, and attention to structural inequalities within the University. Such actions take time.

The aim of the ‘Common Cause’ project is to begin to address this issue from a different perspective. Its objective is to explore where and how common cause can be made between change agents in universities, communities and funding bodies who are looking to create an Arts and Humanities knowledge base that fully reflects the cultures and experiences of the UK’s Black and Minority Ethnic communities. It will do so specifically by mapping, strengthening and extending research collaborations that exist between Black and Minority Ethnic cultural and community organisations and academics currently working in the Arts and Humanities.


The project has four overarching objectives:

  • To begin to create a dynamic and evolving map of university-Black and Minority Ethnic community research and collaborations across the Arts and Humanities, including the areas of Heritage, Community and Culture;
  • To explore the conditions that stimulate such collaborations and what enables them to be sustained or causes them to fail;
  • To engage new communities and networks in this debate – building new bridges between universities and Black and Minority Ethnic community partners;
  • To bring together change makers across university and community sectors to create new networks and identify agendas for future action.

Project origins and funding

The project emerges from the Creating Living Knowledge Report (PDF, 10.1MB), which identified the need to actively foster university-Black and Minority Ethnic community collaborations as a key recommendation. It is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council as part of the Connected Communities Programme and supported by the Arts Council England.