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Professor David Gillborn (l) and Professor John Haldon
(l-r) Professor David Gillborn and Professor John Haldon

Two University of Birmingham Professors have been elected Fellows of the British Academy, in recognition of their contribution to the humanities and social sciences.

Professor David Gillborn, Emeritus Professor of Critical Race Studies was recognised for his work on race inequity in education policy and practice, critical race theory, and the sociology of education.

Professor John Haldon, Honorary Professor in the School of History and Cultures and Shelby Cullom Davis '30 Professor of European History, Emeritus at Princeton University, was recognised for his work on the history and archaeology of the Byzantine Empire, pre-modern state formation, the resources and logistics of late ancient and medieval society, and environment, climate and societal resilience.

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. Current Fellows include the classicist Professor Dame Mary Beard, the historian Professor Sir Simon Schama and philosopher Professor Baroness Onora O’Neill, while previous Fellows include Dame Frances Yates, Sir Winston Churchill, Seamus Heaney and Beatrice Webb. The Academy is also a funding body for research, nationally and internationally, and a forum for debate and engagement. 

This year a total of 84 Fellows – 52 UK Fellows, 29 Corresponding Fellows and 3 Honorary Fellows – have been elected to the Fellowship. 

Professor Gilborn said: “My research and writing is shaped by critical race theory, which is being misrepresented and demonized by those who want to silence discussion of racism in society - on both sides of the Atlantic - and so it's gratifying that the Academy has recognised the significance of such work.”

Professor Haldon said: “Starting from a focus on societal responses to climate and environment in the post-Roman and early medieval east Mediterranean world, my current work has expanded to look at the ways in which historical responses to climatic and environmental challenges in pre-modern societies more broadly can throw light on how we think about our own responses to such challenges, threats and hazards, and how we can also learn from past successes and failures in this regard.  It is a great honour to have this recognised by the Academy through the award of the Fellowship”.

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.” 

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