The festival of social science

Welcome to the Festival of Social Science

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From exhibitions and workshops to debates and hands-on experiences, this annual festival showcases cutting edge research from the University of Essex.

Every year, the University of Essex takes part in the nationwide Festival of Social Science. This annual festival has been held for nineteen consecutive years and takes place every November, with events ranging from public debates to workshops and exhibitions. The festival is designed to reach out to audiences beyond academia, to celebrate the impact social science research has on business, the public sector, society and the quality of people’s lives.

Festival of Social Science 2022

Free film festival brings social science research to life

A free film festival on Wednesday 2 November at Firstsite Gallery in Colchester.

The films form part of the annual ESRC Festival of Social Science, a national celebration of research and knowledge about humans and society which celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2022.

The festival events are an opportunity to explore topics relating to social science – from health and wellbeing to crime, equality, education, and identity.

This year, the film festival includes a range of films based around the theme of “my local area”.

Film highlights include an insight into how young people in the East of England experienced the COVID-19 pandemic, made by award-winning filmmaker Nic Blower; an in-depth look at how research has helping reshape Colchester town centre; and a look at how social science and local councils have come together to reduce the use of single-use plastic.

'The Feast' by Alicja Rogalska documents a metabolic feast, a dinner ritual commemorating the end of humanity’s reliance on fossil fuels. It takes place sometime in the future when humans harvest and distribute surplus energy generated by their metabolism and movements. Around the table the assembled dinner party guests consume fossil fuels and other substances once used in energy production, including coal, crude oil, diesel, lithium and uranium. While doing so, they discuss strategies employed by societies in the past to wean themselves from dirty energy and avert climate catastrophe. Alicja is our Artist-in-Residence and the 2022 winner of the Berlin Art Prize.

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Highlights from the Festival of Social Science 2021

  • Dr Danielle Tucker and Zara Babakordi from Organisation Studies and Human Resource Management at Essex Business School led a discussion about waste and recycling. The event addressed questions such as: How does recycling really work in our homes? What role does your household play in the journey of plastic? What are the wider debates about using plastic? Learn more about the discussion in the blog post, where does all the plastic go?
  •  Professor Gina Yannitell Reinhardt from the Department of Government led a series of activities around the discussion point of are connected communities good for the environment?

Highlights from previous years

David Dimbleby presents: who needs experts anyway?

What was the event about and who was it for?

This debate was for anyone who has ever wondered how experts help to inform decision makers. Who are the people helping to inform our government? What role do the experts really play? And how do we know they are right?

David Dimbleby; Honorary Graduate of the University of Essex, renowned British journalist and current affairs television presenter, known for shows such as Question Time, hosted this public online debate with leading academics from the Faculty of Social Sciences.

This lively online discussion was accompanied by a short film which investigates how academic expertise helps to tackle the very real challenges we face in society today. How can an expert help to solve the difficulties of Brexit, or the unrest of current American politics? How can an economist help to address domestic violence or a global pandemic? What can a sociologist do to improve policing techniques? Where would society be without the contributions of experts?

Faculty of Social Sciences research film

What was the short film about and who made it? 

A short film was created by the Faculty of Social Sciences, designed to explore how social science research helps to inform opinion and fuels change across society every day. View the trailer of the film above or watch the full version on the Faculty of Social Sciences webpage.

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