Archaeology to Pokemon Go: Upcoming festival explores the social sciences

Archaeology to Pokemon Go: Upcoming festival explores the social sciences

Archaeology in the Garioch, 'Pokemon GO' and life after a heart transplant are some of the topics that will be explored during the Festival of Social Science at the University of Aberdeen next week (Saturday 5 - Saturday 12).

The Economic and Social Research Council’s Festival of Social Sciences is a UK-wide celebration of research in the social sciences, which offers a fascinating insight into some of the country’s leading social science research and how it influences our social, economic and political lives. 

Each year the University of Aberdeen takes part in this festival which brings to people the latest thinking around society’s big issues and this year’s Festival will see 13 diverse and exciting events at venues across Aberdeen.

The festival kicks off on Saturday November 5 with archaeologist Gordon Noble talking about the latest work on the Northern Picts that has taken him from mountain to sea.  Sunday November 6 sees a radical change of topic when Heather Morgan will lead a ‘Pokemon Go’ tour around the City Centre examining the role played by digital technology in our health and asking whether Pokémon Go really is good for you.

This year the festival will also explore contemporary political issues including Brexit and the US election.  On Monday 7 Andrew Dilley will lead a discussion looking at trade, and will use the Commonwealth to reflect on the future of the UK’s trade. Also on Monday at Aberdeen Science Centre a discussion will focus on the question of whether or not the Polish immigrant community here are ‘Still Home Abroad after Brexit’.

Other highlights include a chance to take a glimpse into the psyche of a football supporter as psychologist Mirjam Brady-Van den Bos discusses football and social identity;  sociologist Tom Bentley leads a debate on whether or not western states should apologise for their colonial past; and archaeologist Jeff Oliver leads a tour of Bennachie.

The festival closes on Saturday 12 November with Heather Morgan in conversation with artist Brian Keeley who underwent a lifesaving heart transplant in 2013. Brian and his wife Bibo documented the entire process with their art and will describe how the trauma of this event was expressed through their art.

Aberdeen’s festival coordinator Chris Croly, of the Public Engagement with Research Unit at the University of Aberdeen said: “There is such a breadth of social science research being undertaken by the University and it’s great to be able to bring so many different strands of this to the public. From archaeology to psychology from talks to walks on the highest mountain in the North East this is such a varied festival that there is something for all tastes.”

All events are free but most require booking at


The Festival is funded and coordinated nationally by the Economic and Social Research Council ESRC and is in its 14th year. Locally, the Festival is coordinated by the Public Engagement with Research Unit at the University of Aberdeen. 




Wendy Skene