Festival to bring debate, discovery and discussion to Aberdeen

Discover what lies beneath the cobbles of Old Aberdeen, hear about the day-to-day challenges faced by the Travelling community in Scotland today and learn what our online-dating habits reveal about evolutionary theory at the Festival of Social Science which launches this weekend (Saturday November 4 - Saturday November 11).

Hosted by the University of Aberdeen, this year’s festival encompasses a variety of talks, exhibitions and debates across Aberdeen city that are sure to interest and challenge everyone.

The Economic and Social Research Council’s Festival of Social Science 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 12 diverse and exciting events at venues across Aberdeen.

The festival kicks off on Saturday November 4 with education lecturer Neil McLennan discussing his research on the war poet Wilfred Owen, how Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire influenced his works on the Great War.  Sunday November 5 provides the opportunity to join an interactive app-guided walk around Aberdeen mapping the March stones and the role of the much revered Scottish Warrior will be under the spotlight as part of a panel discussion on Monday November 6 and as the subject of an exhibition in King’s Museum until May 2018. 

Keen archaeology fans will have the chance to learn about the on-going research into what lies beneath Old Aberdeen on Tuesday November 7 at Carmelite Hotel, Aberdeen.  Tuesday also sees an expert panel discussion on the issues surrounding the Gypsy and Traveller community in Scotland. Talks on the Arab Uprising and how early life experiences can shape the adult mind comprise Wednesday’s programme while on Thursday, Dr Mirjam Brady-Van den Bos describes how online dating habits can help guide our understanding of human mating choices. 

The Bright Sun Shining exhibition will open on Friday November 10 accompanied by the screening of the associated documentary God Johogoi.  This exhibition will run until March 30 2018 and features photographs taken by photographer Maxim Unarov of the Siberian Summer.

The festival will be brought to a close on Saturday November 11 with the launch of a fascinating new book by Professor Thomas Weber, Becoming Hitler.  Ulrich Schlie, a senior German diplomat and former Director Genral for Defence and Secvurity Policy at the German Ministry of Defense, and Sophie von Bechtolsheim, the granddaughter of Hitler’s failed assassin, Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg will take part in a discussion with Professor Weber on how history and social science help us to understand the challenges the world faces at a time of rising populism.

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 this is such a varied festival that there is something for all tastes.”

All events are free but most require booking.  Full details of all of the events including venue information and starting times can be found at www.abdn.ac.uk/foss

The Festival is funded and coordinated nationally by the Economic and Social Research Council ESRC and is in its 15th year. Locally, the Festival is coordinated by the Public Engagement with Research Unit at the University of Aberdeen.