Economic and Social Research Council
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Economic and Social Research Council's celebration of social science returns for 2019

The UK's biggest celebration of social science returns this November as the Economic and Social Research Council’s Festival of Social Science highlights the impact of social science research on people's lives, with nearly 500 free events taking place right across the country.

The Festival, now in its seventeenth year, will run from 2-9 November and includes public debates, conferences, workshops, film screenings and virtual exhibitions. These events bring the public and social scientists together to discuss the contributions social science research makes to people’s lives throughout the UK.

Festival events taking place across the UK will demonstrate how social science research touches business, the public sector and civil society. They also show how social science contributes to the competitiveness of the UK in the world, the effectiveness of public services, and the quality of people's lives.

The researcher-led events will engage with everyone from school children to policy-makers.

In 2018, events were held in 53 towns and cities with involvement from 1,100 social science researchers and a total attendance of 37,300 people. 

Professor Jennifer Rubin, ESRC Executive Chair, said: "The Festival of Social Science is one of the largest co-ordinated endeavours undertaken by a science community and demonstrates ESRC's commitment to public engagement. We know social scientists and economists value the opportunity to share how their work impacts on everyday life. We hope these events inspire young people to pursue a career in social sciences and raise awareness about the impact made to wider society."

Events during the festival will show how research addresses a wide variety of themes. A small snapshot of these include:

  • What is In The Mind of A Good Navigator?: Understanding why some people easily get lost could help those with dementia
  • Family Businesses - Transforming Communities: Family-run businesses could be vital to improving social equality and to Britain's economic success.
  • Effective Change for Gender Inclusive Workplaces: Employers' excessive demands on staff could be to blame for women with children not being able to advance their careers.
  • Opportunities and Challenges in Curbing Wildlife Trafficking: Researchers have developed software that could help law enforcement teams combat a market worth billions.
  • Cancer Metaphor Café: Researchers have developed a manual of expressions to describe cancer.

Since its launch in 2003, thousands of festival events have been organised, which have attracted more than a million people. See the list of events for the Festival.

Further information


Tamera Jones, Media and Communications Manager
tel. 0734 202 5443, 0117 905 7606

Notes for Editors

  1. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government.
  2. The ESRC is the UK's largest funder of research on the social and economic questions facing us today. It supports the development and training of the UK's future social scientists and also funds major studies that provide the infrastructure for research. ESRC-funded research informs policymakers and practitioners and helps make businesses, voluntary bodies and other organisations more effective.
  3. UK Research and Innovation is a new body which works in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities, and government to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish. We aim to maximise the contribution of each of our component parts, working individually and collectively. We work with our many partners to benefit everyone through knowledge, talent and ideas.
  4. Operating across the whole of the UK with a combined budget of more than £6 billion, UK Research and Innovation brings together the seven research councils, Innovate UK and a new organisation, Research England.


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