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Dr Georgina Brewis
UCL Institute of Education
University College London
20 Bedford Way
Dr Georgina Brewis profile picture
  • Associate Professor in the History of Education
  • IOE - Education, Practice & Society
  • UCL Institute of Education

I am Associate Professor in the History of Education at UCL Institute of Education. I am a historian of voluntary action, humanitarianism, and higher education in Britain and the wider world in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. A recently completed project examines the history of humanitarianism through a moral economy lens - Humanitarianism in the Modern World: The Moral Economy of Famine Relief was published open access by Cambridge University Press in summer 2020. I am currently working on an ESRC-funded interdisciplinary project exploring ‘transformational moments’ for the role of voluntary action in social welfare provision in 1940s and 2010s. Our co-authored book with Policy Press (2021) will illuminate contemporary debates about voluntary action and welfare. Other ongoing research involves a series of linked projects exploring the impact of the First World War on universities, student life and internationalism. 

Previous work includes the revised and updated version of UCL's official history, The World of UCL, published by UCL Press in 2018. My first book A Social History of Student Volunteering: Britain and Beyond 1880-1980 (Palgrave, 2014) takes a long view of the student experience in Britain and tells the story of how ordinary students engaged with social and political questions through volunteering, social service and social action. I am a member of the International Centre for Historical Research in Education (ICHRE). 

I joined UCL Institute of Education in 2011 as a researcher on a Leverhulme Trust-funded study of English teaching in post-war London secondary schools, which resulted in the book English Teachers in a Postwar Democracy (Palgrave, 2014), followed by a two-year career development John Adams fellowship. I studied History and Politics at Pembroke College, University of Oxford and my PhD thesis, completed in 2009 at the University of East London, explored how the imperial experience shaped patterns of charitable giving and voluntary service in Britain and India before 1914, with a focus on young people's social service and education. I also previously worked as a researcher in the voluntary sector. 

Research Themes
Research Summary

My research explores the interlinked histories of voluntary action, humanitarianism, higher education and youth in Britain and the wider world in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

I am Director of the UCL Bicentenary History Project, starting in 2021.

I am Director of a long-running British Academy Research Project, 'Archiving the Mixed Economy of Welfare in Britain' (since 2014). This knowledge exchange project builds on a longstanding interest in the particular problems facing voluntary organisations and charities. I am a Co-Investigator on the ESRC funded project called Discourses of Voluntary Action at two “Transformational Moments” of the Welfare State, the 1940s and 2010s (ESRC grant ES/N018249/1, 2017-2020).

With Daniel Laqua (Northumbria University) I am a Co-Investigator on projects variously funded by the AHRC and the Society for Educational Studies exploring the impact of the First World War on universities and investigating student culture in the aftermath of the war.

Teaching Summary

I teach history across UCL. I am the Teaching and Learning Lead for UCL's BA Education Studies degree, where I lead a first year module called 'The Worlds of UCL: Critical Histories of Education, Nation and Empire' and am Strand Leader: Voluntary and Community Sector for a new placement module on the BA Education Studies. I lead a module for the BA History programme called 'Voluntary Organisations, NGOs and the British Public, 1914-1985'. My teaching promotes student engagement with archives and material culture, and I am a member of the steering group for UCL's new Object Based Learning Lab and a member of the Inter-Departmental Steering Committee on Public History. I am a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

I supervise doctoral students on a range of late nineteenth and twentieth century social history topics, particularly the history of education, youth, voluntary action, charity and volunteering in Britain and the wider world. I currently co-supervise with colleagues in IOE, UCL History and UCL Geography. Current students include:

    • Ed Whiffin, 'Public Schools, Politics and Associational Culture in England, 1900-1939' [completed 2021]
    • Conan de Wilde, 'The Crucible of the International Baccalaureate: Humanities Teaching at the International School of Geneva (1949-1972)'
    • Sait Kirtepe, 'From the Perspective of Children: The Transformation of Working-Class Childhood Experiences through Educational and Child Welfare Reforms in England, 1880-1914' 
    • Lydia Townsend, 'Published Writing on Educational Examination by Staff and Students at University College London 1826-1926'
Academic Background
2019   ATQ04 - Recognised by the HEA as a Senior Fellow University College London
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