Royal Holloway, University of London, has been awarded a grant of £485,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for the Citizens project.
Thanks to National Lottery players, Citizens will produce digital resources and support materials, as well as community engagement activities, to take users on journey that will span the period from the sealing of the Magna Carta to the Suffragettes and beyond. The university’s goal is that by exploring the history of liberty, protest and reform, we will understand how this has shaped what it means to be a citizen today, and the responsibilities we carry for the future.
Professor Paul Layzell, Principal of Royal Holloway, University of London, said: ‘Royal Holloway was founded by two social reformers whose civic contribution was to enable access to higher education for women at a time when they were largely excluded from it. Freedom of speech, personal liberty and recognition of the societal responsibilities that comes from education and knowledge are at the heart of university life. The Citizens project confirms Royal Holloway’s commitment to building an educational legacy from last year’s Magna Carta celebrations.
“Given our progressive heritage, we are delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund is supporting this project and its goal of engaging a younger generation with the history that underpins the rights and democracy we enjoy today.
“In today’s turbulent world, it’s important that we understand how we got to where we are, so that we know what we stand for, and can stand up for the things that matter to us.”
Dr Matthew Smith, from Royal Holloway, University of London, has developed the project in partnership with Egham Museum and The Magna Carta School. It is supported by the AQA exam board, the Historical Association, the Parliamentary Archives, the People’s History Museum, The History of Parliament Trust, the National Justice Museum and others.
Citizens will involve the development of a number of new resources and forums for learning, discussion and debate, several of which can be used to form part of the GCSE curriculum.
In 2017 an educational website for schools with video resources charting key milestones in the evolution of rights and representation will be launched, complemented by workshops in schools.
A new regional network of community researchers and museum partners will be established, casting light on the lesser known stories in the struggle for liberty.
Royal Holloway will host the first in what will be an annual Festival of History at the university in June.
Supporting these activities, there will be a new series of Constitutional Conventions, where young people gather to debate and draft clauses for a modern Magna Carta to be exhibited in the Supreme Court.
Explaining the importance of the HLF support, Stuart McLeod, regional manager for HLF South East, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players, this excellent project will see the Magna Carta tradition and legacy brought to life online, in the classroom and in the community, through an exciting programme of activities and events spreading the word of freedom and liberty to ensure it is not forgotten.”