The Big Society and the AHRC

There’s been a lot of publicity for the campaign to get the AHRC to remove references to the Big Society from its delivery plan, and even David Willetts has recently remarked on the “hazard” of including political campaign slogans in research council delivery plans. But the AHRC is bizarrely unyielding. Thom Brooks suggests the following:

Please write to the AHRC and voice your continued support for our campaign. The AHRC appears to believe our opposition is fading: in fact, it is growing and recent publicity in the Guardian confirms this. Contact information includes the AHRC CEO Professor Rick Rylance ( and AHRC Chairman Professor Sir Alan Wilson (

Please write to David Willetts and voice your support. You might use the following template:

Dear Rt Hon Willetts,

I want to share my support for the campaign to remove the “Big Society” from the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Delivery Plan. This is a position of principle, not politics: political campaign slogans should have no place in research council delivery plans. This position is endorsed by over 4,000 academics and 30+ learned societies as well as the UCU. Petitions (see have drawn support from across disciplines and political divides. Please communicate to the AHRC the importance of taking action and removing this campaign slogan immediately.

Yours sincerely,


2 thoughts on “The Big Society and the AHRC

  1. Many thanks for helping spread the word, jender — this is warmly appreciated. I am confident that we will see changes in the delivery plan, but it will require one last push of support from friends and colleagues. Please, reader, take the time to show your support to the Universities Minister (who I suspect is very favourable) and the AHRC. We have strength in numbers when we stand together. This is an important issue of principle: political campaign slogans should not appear in research council delivery plans for strategic funding priority. If we cannot be successful with such an important and widely popular campaign, then I would about our effectiveness on bigger issues in times to come. Please lend your support!

  2. Readers may be interested in a significant development. Today, more than 40 senior academics have agreed a joint statement. They have agreed to resign en masse from the AHRC Peer Review College if the AHRC offers no clear positive steps towards the removal of the “Big Society” from its delivery plan for strategic research funding priorities by Monday. This is a significant new development in this campaign for change. More details can be found here: We remain hopeful that resignations will become unnecessary.

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