Festival of Social Science

Festival of Social Science

Welcome to the Festival of Social Science - the 2021 Festival will take place 1-30 November

Social Science is central to analysing and confronting important challenges of our time, stretching from the local to the international. This year, COP26 is being held in Glasgow and is a once in a generation opportunity to tackle climate change.

The Festival of Social Science will showcase the latest insight and analysis on the COP26 negotiations and much more. Food consumption and sustainable diets also feature as we work to understand the actions that can help tackle climate change.

Our researchers have also been looking at whether alcohol pricing in Scotland has had any unintended consequences for health, and at the social and economic impact of media tourism. We hope that you enjoy the exciting programme the festival offers. 

Professor George Boyne, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, University of Aberdeen  

The 2021 Festival of Social Science sees the 19th annual festival run from the 1st - 30th November. To find out more about other FOSS events taking place nationally through the month of November click here

The Festival of Social Science (FOSS) is funded by the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC). Find out more here.

UKRI - Economic and Social Research Council

The 2021 Festival of Social Science - UoA Programme 

  • Download the Festival of Social Science programme

For full details and to register for events please view the information below. 


Please do let us know what you think of the FOSS programme and events by filling in this short feedback form. We appreciate your feedback!

‘Young, Meat Free; It’s Simple?!’ 
Sustainable Diets, Climate Change and Individual Choices / 1st - 14th November @ Various times

Running alongside COP26, the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Dr Heather Morgan and colleagues will host a series of daily events and activities aimed at engaging young people with research on sustainable diets and climate change.

They will be seeking input into the design of a follow-on project that will look at how individual ideas and choices have or have not changed, while also exploring how social media influences young people’s perceptions of food choices and climate change.

There is a range of events and activities on offer, including online talks, in-person sessions and social media engagement, linking with local partners and groups.

Please see the full list of events and how to get involved & register below. 

Date & Time  Event/Activity 
1st November @ 12:00 - 13:00 Researcher Dr Heather Morgan, a social scientist, and Lecturer in Applied Health Sciences, will be walking near the COP26 venue in Glasgow. Dr Morgan will be live streaming an overview of the summit while also discussing some recent research around climate change, sustainable diets and young people, that the team at the University of Aberdeen is working on. She will also introduce the series of events and activities which will take place over the next 2 weeks as part of the 2021 Festival of Social Science. Join Heather live on Facebook - No booking required. 
2nd November @ All Day Look out for tweets from @hm_morgan on COP26-related activities @aberdeenuni and beyond, including the Climate Capsule. The University is collecting short statements and images about our hopes for the planet for the next 20 years to store in a capsule that will be sealed and buried in the Cruickshank Botanic Gardens on Friday 12 November. It will only be opened again on Founders’ Day 2040! Find out more about the Climate Capsule here
3rd November @ 18:00 - 19:00 Join Professor Jennie Macdiarmid, Professor in Sustainable Nutrition and Health and the project lead, as she hosts a ‘watch party’ to view Jonathan Foley's TEDtalk 'The Inconvenient Truth', followed by a Q&A on some of the issues raised. This event will be hosted online via Teams Live, booking is required here.
4th November @12:30 - 13:00 Join a Twitter chat, led by Dr Heather Morgan using #YPCCFOSS2021 to discuss food and climate change and to share top tips for consuming more sustainable diets. Join the discussion at @hm_morgan, no booking required.
5th November @ All day Today's COP26 summit theme is ‘youth and public empowerment’. How can we give voice to action on climate change? Tell us what you think on this anonymous ‘whiteboard’ that will be live all day. Access the interactive whiteboard here.
7th November @ 14:00 - 16:00 Join us on Facebook to watch a fascinating debate between two world leading scientists, Professor Pete Smith (University of Aberdeen) and Professor Michael Lee (Harper Adams University), on 'The Environmental Impact of Livestock: To Eat Meat or Not'. Feel free to comment on Facebook and tell us your thoughts on the subject. No booking required, you can watch the debate and comment on Facebook live on November 7th. 
8th November @ 16:30 - 17:30 Dr Diana Feliciano, Research Fellow at the Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences, will play a short video called, 'Food systems and Climate Change: Global challenges with local solutions'. The video describes the impacts of food production on climate change and conversely the risks posed by climate change to food production, and will be followed by a discussion and Q&A. This event will be hosted online via Teams Meeting, booking is required here.  
9th November @ 10:00 - 12:00 For this session we will host a World Café event drawing on seven integrated design principles. The World Café methodology is a simple, effective, and flexible format for hosting large group dialogue. Each element of the method has a specific purpose and corresponds to one or more of the design principles. APOLOGIES THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELLED DUE TO ILLNESS.
10th November @ 16:00 -17:00 Join Flavio Tomasella, a nutritionist and researcher on the project team, as he presents some of the findings from the research with young people in Aberdeen/shire. Flavio will fill you in on what young people were saying about climate change and sustainable diets in 2013 and will invite you to express your views now in 2021.This event will be hosted online via Teams Meeting, booking is required here.
11th November @ All day What does climate change look like to you? Post a picture on Instagram using #YPCCFOSS2021 - No booking required. 
12th November @ 19:00 - 20:00 Check out this talk, ‘Food politics: who makes our food choices?’ by Marion Nestle in advance. Then join Dr Heather Morgan and Flavio Tomasella for a Facebook live session from 7pm - 8pm to discuss the talk and give your feedback. Join Heather live on Facebook - No booking required. 
13th & 14th November @ 11:00 - 15:00 Drop in to see Dr Heather Morgan at the Aberdeen Science Centre (ASC); create your own personal ‘Eatwell Plate’, showing your preferred food choices, and then mix it up to imagine one that you think might be more planet-friendly; or maybe they are the same? You will also be able to look other plates to spot patterns and talk about the changes we could make to help slow climate change. APOLOGIES THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELLED DUE TO ILLNESS. 
14th November @ All day

Take our climate change quiz any time today and generate a certificate of participation in our Festival of Social Science series on climate change and sustainable diets here at the University of Aberdeen. To do the quiz click here, no booking required. 


Please do let us know what you think of the FOSS programme and events by filling in this short feedback form. We appreciate your feedback!

Conversations on COP26 / 3rd, 5th, 10th, & 12th November @ 16:00-17:00 

COP26 is a once in a generation opportunity to tackle climate change, and in this series of online events, experts from the Aberdeen University Centre for Energy Law will host sessions linked to these vital COP26 negotiations. They will share their analysis and insight, while discussing how the negotiations are progressing across four areas that are critical to the future of the planet. The host of each session will ‘report’ on the COP26 negotiations as it applies to their area of expertise, before moving onto a panel discussion and an audience Q&A.

These events will be hosted online via Zoom Webinar, booking is required. For more information and to book one of these events click here


Please do let us know what you think of the FOSS programme and events by filling in this short feedback form. We appreciate your feedback!

Performing Local Identities on Global Digital Platforms / 8th November @ 18:30-20:00

There is a small but growing cohort of internet users from the North-East of Scotland who could be considered internet celebrities: people whose celebrity status is native to the internet, who are highly visible to both human and machine eye, and who attract and retain an audience – often in the form of followers or likes. Simon Gall from the Elphinstone Institute will chair a discussion with Instagrammer Aiberdeen Mannie, exploring his practices, creative processes, experience as a public figure, and impacts on his audiences.

This event will be hosted online via Zoom, booking is required here.


Please do let us know what you think of the FOSS programme and events by filling in this short feedback form. We appreciate your feedback!

The Impact of Tourism in Galashiels, Melrose and Abbotsford: A Cultural Tourism Nexus / 2nd November @ 15:00-16:30 (Online) & 9th November @ 14:00-18:00 (In-person)

This event will look at how tourism is impacting the Galashiels, Melrose and Abbotsford area, and how attracting visitors can help with local economic and community development. Research from the University of Aberdeen will be presented which is part of an EU funded project SPOT: Social and Innovative Platform on Cultural Tourism. There will be two events; a talk will be hosted online (2nd November), and a workshop will be hosted in-person in Galashiels (9th November).

The online event will be hosted via Zoom Meeting. The In-person event will be hosted at the Great Tapestry of Scotland Gallery, 14-20 High St, Galashiels TD1 1SD. 

Booking is required for both events, the  register for the in-person event in Galashiels click here. To register for the online event click here.


Please do let us know what you think of the FOSS programme and events by filling in this short feedback form. We appreciate your feedback!

Local Story, Global Audience: Media Tourism in Doune / 23rd November 14:00-16:00 (In-person)  

Unfortunately the Online event on the 16th November @ 14:00-15:00 has been CANCELLED, we apologise for any disappointment caused.  

Doune Castle has seen a record-breaking surge in visitor numbers since the popular Outlander TV series was first filmed there in 2013. The massive volume of worldwide visitors has posed fresh concerns about the (un)sustainable tourism development e.g., infrastructure capacity, real economic contribution, sociocultural impacts. This event will present a grounded understanding of the media tourism development in the village of Doune with an in-person roundtable discussion on site in Doune. The event is open to all, especially anyone interested in Scottish tourism and rural Scotland development.

The online event will be hosted via Zoom Meeting. The In-Person event will be hosted at Rural Hall, North Lea, Doune, FK16 6DH. 

Booking is required, the In-person event in Doune can be booked here.

Alcohol Pricing in Scotland – Does it Affect Your Food Shopping? / Podcast - Available from 30th November 

Does Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) for alcohol have unintended consequences for diet quality and health? Alcohol MUP was introduced in Scotland in May 2018 as part of the Scottish Government’s strategy to reduce the health and social harms associated with alcohol misuse. This conversation with Professor Paul McNamee will look at the research trying to understand whether household food spending was reduced following the introduction of MUP and the effect that this has on diet quality. He will also discuss whether these changes to diet quality have consequences for people’s health. This event is part of the Cafe Connect Podcast series.

The podcast will be available to listen to here from the 30th November, booking is not required. 


Please do let us know what you think of the FOSS programme and events by filling in this short feedback form. We appreciate your feedback!