I believe that the Arts and Humanities are more important than ever in a time that requires critical and creative thinking to tackle major societal issues. As Arts and Humanities researchers, we can bring our curiosity, openness and wide-ranging knowledge to bear on interdisciplinary projects that speak to these issues, and can use our practice and research to engage people and communities.

Professor Kirstie Blair is the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at the University of Stirling. Prior to this, she was Head of the School of Humanities at the University of Strathclyde. She started her career in Scotland at the University of Glasgow in 2005, after studying at Cambridge, Harvard and Oxford. Kirstie works in the field of Victorian studies, and particularly Victorian poetry. She has published extensively in this field, including three OUP monographs, the most recent of which, Working Verse in Victorian Scotland: Poetry, Press, Community, won the Saltire Society Research Book of the Year and Scottish Book of the Year awards in 2019. Her current interests centre on Victorian Scotland, working-class literary cultures in the Anglophone Victorian world, and industrial heritage. From 2018-23, she led an AHRC funded project, with co-investigators Prof Mike Sanders (Manchester) and Dr Oliver Betts (Railway Museum), ‘Piston, Pen & Press: Literary Cultures in the Industrial Workplace’ (www.pistonpenandpress.org). The outputs of this project include a database mapping a high number of previously unknown working-class writers from Scotland and the North of England, all of whom worked in industrial occupations. Kirstie works closely with a number of industrial heritage museums, libraries and archives, and has served as the Vice-Chair of the Scottish Transport and Industrial Collections Knowledge Network since 2020. She has served on the board and committees of the Research Society for Victorian Periodicals, and the Association for Scottish Literary Studies, and the RSE. She has co-supervised or is currently supervising PhDs with the Railway Museum, Dundee Central Library, the NLS, the Scottish Maritime Museum, and the National Coal-Mining Museum for Scotland. Her interests in connecting Victorian industrial heritage with contemporary work towards a net zero future mean that she has been involved in working with interdisciplinary teams on large-scale projects relating to minewater geothermal initiatives and carbon capture and storage.