We are grateful to the Being Human: Past, Present and Future Research Priority Area at the University of Gloucestershire for funding our conferences.

This research priority area was established in the university to address areas of research that were concerned with human experience and a sense of heritage and direction. It draws on the riches of the past, with the formative potency of memory, and focuses on engaging with modern thinking about humanity in the cyber-age and considering possible futures.

The modern post-secularised situation is one which looks for the recovery of meaning following the profound loss of commonly accepted construals of reality. Within this context, the questioning of what it means to be human is a key imperative underlying the area’s direction of research. This is inseparable from acknowledging how the meaning of the human is continually contested by, and inextricably entwined with, powerful forces of globalisation, spectacular advances in technology and scientific knowledge, and conflicts over politics, ideology and resources.