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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, where I am Co-Programme Leader for UCL's interdisciplinary degree BA Education Studies. I am a historian of student culture, higher education, voluntary action and humanitarianism in Britain and the wider world in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. 

My current research and teaching centres on the history of student life and student culture. I am involved in a series of linked projects exploring the impact of the First World War on universities, student life and internationalism. Building on my revision and updating of UCL's official history, The World of UCL (UCL Press, 2018), I have developed a new research and engagement project in the run up to UCL's bicentenary in 2021. Generation UCL: 200 Years of Student Life in London is funded by a Provost's Award and is a partnership with OVPA and Students' Union UCL.  

My recently completed book Transformation Moments in Social Welfare: What Role for Voluntary Action? (Policy Press, 2021, open access) is the result of an ESRC-funded interdisciplinary project exploring debates about the role of voluntary action in social welfare provision in 1940s and 2010s. A second completed project examines the history of humanitarianism through a moral economy lens and resulted in Humanitarianism in the Modern World: The Moral Economy of Famine Relief (Cambridge University Press, 2020, open access).  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 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. I am a member of the International Centre for Historical Research in Education (ICHRE). 

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 'Generation UCL: 200 Years of Student Life in London', launching 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. 

Previously, I was Co-Investigator on a Swedish Research funded project on humanitarianism and on an 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 am the Co-Programme Leader and Teaching and Learning Lead for UCL's interdisciplinary BA Education Studies degree, where I lead a first year module called 'The Worlds of UCL: Critical Histories of Education, Nation and Empire' and the BA Education Studies Placement Module. I also work closely with UCL History where I've led a module called 'Voluntary Organisations, NGOs and the British Public, 1914-1985'. 

My teaching promotes student engagement with archives and material culture, as part of which I work closely with UCL Culture and UCL Special Collections. I am a member of the Object Based Learning Lab Advisory Group, the UCL Art Collections Advisory Group and 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, children, youth, students, higher education, voluntary action, charity and volunteering in Britain and the wider world. I currently co-supervise with colleagues across IOE, UCL and SOAS. 

Academic Background
2019   ATQ04 - Recognised by the HEA as a Senior Fellow University College London
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