cfp: AHHE – Faculties and futures for the arts and humanities in higher education

Call for Papers
Special Issue in Arts and Humanities in Higher Education
‘In the name of employability: faculties and futures for the arts and humanities in higher


Guest Editors
Dr Daniel Ashton (University of Southampton, UK)
Professor Dawn Bennett (Bond University, Australia)
Dr Zoe Hope Bulaitis (University of Birmingham, UK)
Dr Michael Tomlinson (University of Southampton, UK)


This special issue aims to examine the faculties and futures of the arts and humanities within the context of global labour market and higher education reforms. We ask contributors to
consider the role of the arts and humanities within the context of work and society, both now and in the near future; the visions and versions of employability that are invoked and responded to within the arts and humanities; and the solutions which might enable the arts and humanities to regain or reframe their centrality. Ten years ago, the edited collection The Public Value of the Humanities (Bate, 2011) suggested that ‘recession is a time for asking fundamental questions about value’ and the contributors did just that with their reflections on the public value of arts and humanities disciplines. This 2021 special issue seeks to examine the intricate connections and global challenges of ongoing recession, pandemic, climate change, national populism, intersectional inequalities, and more. A 2021 review in response to this panoply of crises is an opportunity to explore the continued and growing value of arts and humanities in higher education. It is also clear that this timely exposition and exchange is situated in the idea of what the arts and humanities can offer (Reisz, 2020). As governments and higher education  institutions address the ongoing impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, the value of a university degree continues to be a disputed and debated field. Graduate destinations and employment outcomes have long been factored into the accounts of value and consequences when it comes to the role and function of the arts and humanities higher education (British Academy, 2017; Britton et al., 2020). At the same time, there has been considerable debate and reflection on the economic and social purposes of higher education (McArthur, 2011). Current governmental policy concerning higher education management firmly identifies the question of value with employment. For example, the recent interim response to the UK’s “Post-18 Review of Education and Funding” (Augar, 2020) highlights that skills and jobs are the priority in terms of government engagement in HE reform (DfE, 2021). The emphasis in the UK is on ‘strong graduate employment  outcomes’ (see Adams, 2020) and in Australia, as elsewhere, there is similar identification of the need for ‘job ready graduates’ (Grattan, 2020). The terms of this discussion are reinforced in the responses and reports from a range of scholarly and policy organisations. This special issue explores the position and potential futures for the arts and humanities within this context. Building on the 2017 report The Right Skills, the British Academy’s Qualified for the Future report (2020) sets out how ‘graduates who study arts, humanities and social science disciplines are highly employable across a range of sectors and roles’ with recognised skills of ‘communication, collaboration, research and analysis, independence, creativity and adaptability’. Similarly,  recent data from Forbes (Marr, 2019) and LinkedIn (2019, 2020) demonstrate that industry recognises the benefits of employees with skills learned and developed through critical thinking and creative activity. This also resonates with employers’ discourses around soft skills and other behavioural competencies that add value to workplaces. The ongoing social and economic shifts taking place during the global pandemic will undoubtably influence the skills that are valued in the labour market.

Call for Contributions

Articles and Scholarly Comment are invited for a special issue in Arts and Humanities in Higher Education examining how employability and discussions about the future of work connects
with debates around the value of arts and humanities in higher education. We welcome possible contributions from a range of international and disciplinary perspectives in relation to this theme that explore, but are not limited to:

Explorations of Employability and Employment Discourses.
For example: how employability and graduate employment discourses are used in supporting and/or questioning the value of the arts and humanities.
• Discussion of the Value of Higher Education and Graduate Returns.
For example: the ways in which perceived graduate prospects inform decisionmaking on the viability of university subject areas; where arts and humanities subjects fit in with prevailing marketisation discourse of value and return, with consideration of multiple values such as economic, societal, cultural; the effects of de-funding or raising the student fees for arts and humanities.
Specific Disciplinary Opportunities.
For example: the disciplinary scope for employability development within and alongside subject areas; the connections between employability and approaches to (re)articulating arts and humanities education (e.g., Miller, 2012 on blowing up the humanities; Epstein, 2012 on the transformative humanities; Hall, 2017 on the inhumanities; Bulaitis, 2020, on liberal and neoliberal configurations; Ewan, 2021, on the ignorant art school).
Specific Disciplinary Challenges.
Specific challenges/opportunities within fields/subfields in the arts and/or the humanities.
National and Organisational Effects.
For example: how advocacy and campaigning organisations understand and position employability and employment; development and impact of AHSS to STEAM (Science Technology Engineering and Maths) and SHAPE (Social Sciences Humanities & the Arts for People and the Economy) initiatives.
Understanding 21st Century Work.
For example: reflections on ‘valuable’ or ‘meaningful’ employment and work in the twenty-first century; how the language of employment represents or restricts experience and understanding, policy and funding; challenges in access and opportunity to work: who is excluded and what are the consequences?
Curricular and Pedagogical Interventions.
For example: discussion of employment- or employability-focused teaching within the creative and humanities curriculum; the development and impact of critical pedagogies; interventions which adopt whole-of-program approaches or which focus on supporting the transition to early career.
Organisational and institutional histories.
For example: histories of data and/or evidence surrounding graduate outcomes, longer legacies of current employability agendas, considerations of the changing nature of work.

Outline of the proposal, invitation, review and publication process

Potential contributors should send the following to Dan Ashton ( by 4th June 2021: a title, an abstract (300 words maximum), author(s) name(s) and affiliations,
and a short bio for each author (150 words). Responses on the selection of abstracts should be provided by 25th June 2021. The selection will take into account: fit with the aims and scope of the journal, the thematic focus, and the balance of contributions.

Following the initial review by the editors, authors will be invited to submit a full manuscript by 10th December 2021 to:

The word length for an article is 7000 words and for scholarly comment is 4000 words.
Peer review
Submitted contributions will follow the journal’s peer review policy in which all submissions will be doubly, anonymously and internationally refereed.

All articles that are accepted through the peer review process will then published either in
this Special Issue or considered for another issue of the journal. The intended publication of
the special issue is late 2022 or 2023.