Now in its ninth year, the Festival of Social Science has become an annual event in the calendar of many academics. Amy Parkman, Festival Manager at ESRC, explains what the Festival is about.
The Festival of Social Science 2011, a week-long series of events celebrating the breadth of research being undertaken in the UK, will run between 29 October and 5 November. These nationwide events offer insight into how social science research helps to mould social, economic and political policies, as well showing the effect it has on the daily lives of us all – often unknown!
Now in its ninth year and coordinated by the Economic and Social Research Council, the Festival has helped over 500 researchers to engage with a new audience, including individuals from business, charities, policy, teenagers, pensioners, parents and of course the general public. Feedback from event organisers highlights that apart from learning from the experience of holding an event, they have also benefited from the networking opportunity that the festival presents, as well as enabling them to better understand the different concerns individuals can have surrounding their research.
Normally events target one of four different types of audience: a general audience – perhaps in a shopping centre, a museum or in a national park; those with a some knowledge and a specific interest in the research – such as a parent group or participants in a research project; professionals including local businesses, charities and government agencies; and schools or college students, with organisers working in conjunction with the teachers. However, a few have brought together a number of different audiences to help facilitate networking and new ideas. In 2009 researchers from the University of East Anglia brought together young entrepreneurs and local business people, enabling a sharing of ideas and experiences and showing how this all linked to their research.
As organisers have the freedom to not only be creative in their event design but also to try innovative approaches which suit the audience needs, the Festival has produced a plethora of different formats. From film screenings, talks, exhibitions, debates, plays, workshops, seminars – even woodland and urban walks – the Festival has enabled the creative side of academics to blossom.
The call for applications to this year’s Festival is now live. Deadlines for those requesting support is June 3, and June 15 for those who wish to be part of the week celebrating the social sciences and do not need ESRC support. Full details about organising an event and the application process can be found on our Organise an event page.
We are looking forward to an exciting Festival again with many creative events showcasing the breadth of impact social science research has on all of our lives –both across the disciplines and across the UK. And we hope that many new social science researchers will also enjoy the unique learning experience the Festival offers.