On Monday 17th May the IHR's Centre for the History of People, Place and Community and History & Policy were joined by University of Southampton Institute for Arts and Humanities for Levelling up: Histories, Cultures, Challenges.

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.

The event included micro-presentations from a range of perspectives and disciplines across policy and research and was followed by a Q&A and discussion.

Introductions from Professor Catherine Clarke (CHPPC), Professor Philip Murphy (IHR and History & Policy) and Professor Nicky Marsh (University of Southampton)

Speakers included:

  • 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
Catch up on the event now