Festival shows how research helps us to understand people and world around us

From big ideas to the most detailed observations, social science affects us all every day – at work, in school, when raising children, within our communities, from the personal and local, to the national and global level.

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Festival of Social Science at Lancaster University is an annual celebration of the social sciences, with the 19th Festival running through the whole of November featuring a whole array of exciting and diverse events for the public.

Lancaster University’s events will offer a fascinating insight into some of the country’s leading social science research and how it influences our social, economic and political lives.

This year the Festival has a strong (but not exclusive) environment focus to tie in with the COP26 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow.

You can hear about the public in policy making through citizens’ assemblies to impact climate change or accept an invitation to reflect on your perceptions of the sea in Morecambe.

Or what about the ‘Crafternoon for Sustainability’ a ‘mend-a-thon’ workshop and exploration of the fate of second hand clothing and the connections between clothing and climate.

And, as we start to pile on the layers of winter clothing, find out how you could be doing your bit to lower carbon emissions at the ‘Watts to wear?‘ online talk.

Other fascinating topics include a topical talk exploring metaphors for the COVID-19 pandemic and why they matter and a display of a textile collaboration between researchers and a local charity revealing Lancaster’s black history, ‘The Slavery Family Trees Banner‘.

On November 17 look out for the mini pod in Dalton Square, come along to play the arcade game that reveals how your everyday choices have a global impact through your data usage and CO2 emissions.

Or you can follow a walking trail around Lancaster, exploring urban food growing and take the opportunity to shape the vision for the future of food in our city.

Another food themed event in collaboration with the Eden Project Cornwall is raising awareness of the story behind the cultivation of a favourite spice, vanilla and the related complex trade and social issues in Madagascar.

Events will be held online and at venues in and around Lancaster.

Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Engagement) Professor Dame Sue Black said: “This year’s festival at Lancaster University promises to provide something for everyone, with a fascinating insight into what our research can do for society, ​and how society influences our research.

“There is a strong environmental focus given Lancaster University’s commitment to climate change issues, but this carefully thought through programme includes other topics that are sure to intrigue – from crafting to environmental law, from the sea to slavery and reparative history.

“This is an open invitation to the community to join us for what promises to be another excellent festival.”

Professor Alison Park, interim ESRC Executive Chair, said: “The ESRC Festival of Social Science is one of the largest co-ordinated endeavours undertaken by an economics and social science community and is indicative of ESRC’s commitment to public engagement.   

“This year the Festival will run throughout November and there will be a mixture of digital and face to face events, with a focus on the environment to mark the UK’s hosting of COP26.

“The Festival is a valuable way of showing how economic and social research helps us to better understand people, businesses, institutions, communities and wider social phenomena, and informs decisions that can affect millions of lives. We hope the events raise awareness about how research can improve outcomes across society, inspiring some young people to pursue a career in research, and others to draw on research to understand people and the world around us.”

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