ESRC festival of social science 2009: the wider picture

Monday 2 March 2009

Social science plays an important part in all our lives. It shows that science is not just test tubes and technology but involves people and society too. It helps us to make sense of the key issues in the changing world around us such as the implications of global financial crisis, climate change, nuclear power or nanotechnology; or the implications of social issues such as ageing, immigration and population change. 

Running from Friday 6 March to Sunday 15 March the ESRC Festival of Social Science, organised by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), will celebrate some of the very best British social science research, highlighting the ways in which it makes a difference to all our lives.

More than 30 UK towns and cities, from Glasgow to Brighton, Belfast to Swansea as well as many places in between, are hosting events during the Festival. Over 100 events are being organised during the Festival ranging from conferences to workshops and debates, exhibitions, film screenings, policy briefings and much more. Plus if you can't make it, there are even virtual events taking place across the week online.

Whether it is school children tramping through the Peak District on a 'Moorland Walk' or getting to grips with the implications of the current financial crisis for business and individuals; discovering the social life of plants or exploring whether teenage behaviour is biological in origin, this Festival has something to capture everyone's interest.

Broadly speaking, social scientists study society, how we behave and our impact on the world around us. 

Prof Ian Diamond, Chief Executive of the Economic and Social Research Council points out that: "Year on year, the ESRC funds world class research into areas of national and international importance, such as the economy, crime, health, and the environment. The Festival is an opportunity not just to showcase our research but for people to find out more about the vital role of social science in our everyday lives." 

The events during the Festival will touch on many issues affecting Britain today such as:

  • The "credit crunch": consequences for UK households
  • Exploring food, connecting communities
  • Rural England in the 21st Century
  • Lincoln and Darwin: live for one night only
  • What's social about sport?
  • Street arts: people and places at play
  • Natural burial: do we need a headstone?
  • Grandparenting: the challenge of "being there" and "not interfering"
  • Talent and autism
  • The social life of plants
  • Feeding the future city
  • The 2008 crash and the future of the global economy    

For further information contact

ESRC Press Office:

Notes for editors

  1. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest funding agency for research and postgraduate training relating to social and economic issues. It provides independent, high quality, relevant research to business, the public sector and Government. The ESRC's planned total expenditure in 2007/8 is £203 million. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and research policy institutes.  
  2. The Festival of Social Science is organised by the Economic and Social Research Council, and runs from March 6 to 15, alongside National Science and Engineering Week. It celebrates some of the very best British social science research, as well as highlighting the ways in which social science makes a difference to everyday lives. Press releases detailing some of the varied events are available at the Festival website or for more information please contact the ESRC Press Office.
  3. ESRC Society Today offers free access to a broad range of social science research and presents it in a way that makes it easy to navigate and saves users valuable time. As well as bringing together all ESRC-funded research and key online resources such as the Social Science Information Gateway and the UK Data Archive, non-ESRC resources are included, for example the Office for National Statistics. The portal provides access to early findings and research summaries, as well as full texts and original datasets through integrated search facilities.