Clockwise: Professor Holton, Professor Franklin, Professor Lieu, Professor Tsimpli, Professor Bell.

Five Cambridge academics have been elected to the Fellowship of the British Academy in recognition of their contribution to the humanities and social sciences.

The need for SHAPE subjects has never been greater.

Professor Julia Black, President of the British Academy

This year a total of 84 Fellows have been elected to the Fellowship, of which five are Cambridge academics:

  • Professor Duncan Bell, Professor of Political Thought and International Relations, Fellow of Christ’s College
  • Professor Sarah Franklin, Chair of Sociology, Fellow of Christ's College
  • Professor Richard Holton, Professor of Philosophy, Fellow of Peterhouse
  • Professor Samuel Lieu, President of the International Union of Academies, Bye Fellow of Robinson College
  • Professor Ianthi Tsimpli, Professor of English and Applied Linguistics, Fellow of Fitzwilliam College 

Founded in 1902, the British Academy is the UK’s national academy for the humanities and social sciences. It is a Fellowship of over 1400 of the leading minds in these subjects from the UK and overseas. The Academy is also a funding body for research, nationally and internationally, and a forum for debate and engagement.

Welcoming the Fellows, the new President of the British Academy, Professor Julia Black, said: 

“As the new President of the British Academy, it gives me great pleasure to welcome this new cohort of Fellows, who are as impressive as ever and remind us of the rich and diverse scholarship and research undertaken within the SHAPE disciplines – the social sciences, humanities and the arts. I am very much looking forward to working with them on our shared interests.  

“The need for SHAPE subjects has never been greater. As Britain recovers from the pandemic and seeks to build back better, the insights from our diverse disciplines will be vital to ensure the health, wellbeing and prosperity of the UK and will continue to provide the cultural and societal enrichment that has sustained us over the last eighteen months. Our new Fellows embody the value of their subjects and I congratulate them warmly for their achievement.”

Professor Bell works on the history of modern British and American political thought, focusing mainly on visions of empire and international politics in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. “I am delighted to be joining such a distinguished institution,” said Bell. “The humanities and social sciences are vital in both understanding and changing the world, and the British Academy does great work in helping to sustain them.”

Professor Franklin’s research addresses the history and culture of UK IVF, the IVF-stem cell interface, cloning, embryo research, and changing understandings of kinship, biology, and technology. “It is an honour and a privilege to be elected to the Academy and I’m delighted by this news,” said Franklin.

Professor Holton’s current work focuses mainly on Moral Psychology, Ethics, Philosophy of Law, and Philosophy of Language. He said “obviously I’m delighted to be elected, and somewhat daunted! I love the broad range of the British Academy. It does great work supporting the humanities and social sciences, both in the UK and internationally, and I very much look forward to being part of that at a time when these disciplines face many challenges.”

Professor Lieu is the current President of the International Union of Academies (Union Académique Internationale) − an organisation founded after the First World War to promote peace through research collaboration among national academies. Professor Lieu’s field is the history of pre-Islamic Central Asia, especially the history of religions transmitted along the Silk Road (e.g., Christianity and Manichaeism). He said: “I feel greatly honoured and privileged to be elected Fellow of the British Academy, an organisation which has generously supported my subject area, especially in terms of project and publication grants.”

Professor Tsimpli works on multilingualism, first and second language development in children and adults, language impairment, attrition and processing, and the effects of socioeconomic challenges on multilingual children’s language, cognition and school skills. She said “I’m deeply honoured to have been elected and look forward to being part of this community of researchers.”

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