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The government’s ‘Levelling Up’ agenda comes at a time when Covid has revealed, and often increased, existing structural inequalities in the UK. These range from employment to housing, and education to healthcare. They include regional disparities in wealth, widening gaps in life expectancy across ethnicity, and uneven access to resources from libraries to leisure centres. What might a cultural history of Levelling Up tell us about the new political narratives being shaped around this agenda? How might the government’s emphasis on ‘stronger towns’ rebalance our economic map of the UK? What might a level playing field look like in terms schooling, accommodation, or wellbeing? What does ‘Levelling Up’ mean, and how will we know if it has succeeded? Drawing on a variety of disciplines, methods, places, and possibilities, this online forum will include new perspectives from Whitehall and town halls, offer provocations from the education sector to the NHS, and consider the role of researchers, policy-makers and communities in addressing these challenges.

This event will be hosted by History & Policy and the Centre for the History of People, Place and Community at the Institute for Historical Research, and the University of Southampton Institute for Arts and Humanities. The seminar format will include micro-presentations from a range of perspectives and disciplines across policy and research, Q&A and discussion.

Speakers include:

  • Melissa Benn, Writer and Campaigner 
  • Andrew Haldane, Chief Economist, Bank of England
  • Will Jennings, Director, Centre for Towns; Professor of Political Science and Public Policy, University of Southampton 
  • Owain Lloyd James, Head of Places Strategy, Historic England
  • Helen Nicholson, Professor of Theatre and Performance, Royal Holloway, University of London & Jenny Hughes, Professor in Drama, University of Manchester
  • Simon Szreter, Professor of History and Public Policy, University of Cambridge
  • Jonathan Gross, Lecturer in Culture, Media & Creative Industries, King's College London


All welcome

This event is free to attend, but booking is required. It will be held online with details about how to join the virtual event being circulated via email to registered attendees 24 hours in advance.