University of Sussex unveil climate events as part of ESRC’s Festival of Social Science

University of Sussex

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A number of University of Sussex social scientists will be working to draw the public’s attention to some hugely important environmental ideas next month, as part of a longstanding national festival.

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Festival of Social Science is an annual celebration of the social sciences and a key element of ESRC’s commitment to promote awareness of UK social science research to new audiences. This year the festival will be held from 1-30 November 2021 and will feature exciting and creative events run by its 34 partners – including the University of Sussex.

However, this year, with the Festival taking place simultaneously with COP26 – the UN Climate Change Conference – the focus will be on the environment – in addition to a range of other topics, such as the social and economic effects of the covid pandemic.

With the University of Sussex recently announcing its intention to become one of the most sustainable universities in the world, it will be hosting a number of online events which aim to draw wider awareness to the climate change debate – as well as a number of in-person events designed to engage the local population.

The carbon footprint of what you eat, taking place from 6pm – 7.30pm on Monday November 1, will focus on the role of food in climate change and the actions that consumers can take to reduce their impact. It will aim to demystify the role of food and food production in climate change so that consumers are armed with the knowledge necessary to make informed decisions when shopping for food.

Another event, Creating a generation of environmental activists, will look at the role that psychology can play in helping to train the campaigners of tomorrow. The 90-minute event, taking place on Wednesday 10th November between 4pm-5.30pm, will look at how to encourage individual behaviour change, such as reducing flying and meat consumption; how groups can work together to create wider change in society; and the place of humans in nature and the benefit of green spaces.

However, not all events are online. One of those, Objects that matter, is an exhibition and creative workshop of ‘objects’ connecting children’s sustainability concerns across Global South-North.

Taking place on Saturday 6 November from 11am-12pm at Jubilee Library, it will ask parents and children to come and create their own objects, using different art materials, to show what things they believe are important in their local environments.

The session will also include an exhibition of objects chosen and exchanged by children and young people in India (West Bengal), Ecuador (lowland Chocó) and UK (Brighton). It will also include a short film about why these objects say something about their environment.

Another event that can be accessed in person (and online) is Sacha Taki (Songs of the Forest). Taking place at O N C A Barge at Brighton Marina from 7-8pm on 11 November, the short documentary will focus on the irrevocable links between biological and cultural diversity in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

Also including an exhibition, it will underline the important part soundscapes play to the lives of those who call the Amazon rainforest home – a critical point of contact for communication between humans and all other beings in the forest.

With COP26 taking place at the same time all eyes will be on what can be achieved by those attending the event in Glasgow.

However, two events will also feature a number of prominent academics whose extensive research is having tangible effects on environmental discourse, playing into key reports and policy decisions.

One event will explore the complex challenges faced by individuals and communities in the face of climate change.

Hosted by Dr Sonja Ayeb-Karlsson and Professor Dominic Kniveton from the School of Global Studies the session will aim to shift the focus away from the climate crisis as an economic crisis to explore the human-side of climate impacts.

Looking at how research shapes and informs international and national policy on climate change, the conversation will explore the intersection of climate change, wellbeing and health, and (im)mobility, displacement and migration from research with communities experiencing both slow onset and shock events.

Beyond finance – climate, (im)mobility and wellbeing will be taking place on Wednesday 10 Novemver from 12.30pm-1.30pm.

Another event, hosted by Peter Newell, Professor of International Relations and Andrew Simms, author, activist and co-director of the New Weather Institute and co-founder of the Rapid Transition Alliance, will examine the continuing role of fossil fuels. It will use research and the experience of the hosts that has fed into national government policy and contributed to the basis of a letter signed by 100 Nobel Laureates – including the Dalai Lama.

Towards a fossil fuel treaty, will aim to focus on the proposal for a fossil fuel treaty to leave a large proportion of remaining fossil fuels in the ground.

The one-hour online event, taking place from 1-2pm on November 1, will kick off the series of events.

This events are part of the ESRC’s Festival of Social Science 2021 which has was made possible thanks to funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) — part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

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