Festival of Social Sciences returns to Aberdeen

The 2018 Festival of Social Sciences in Aberdeen will begin with a special event to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War.

Events in the region are coordinated by the University of Aberdeen as part of the ESRC’s UK-wide Festival which aims to help the public learn how the social sciences affect our everyday lives.

Sessions in the north-east will cover a broad range of topics from the First World War to growing up in Aberdeen in the 1960s and 1970s to changing behaviour to address cyber security and the ethics of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The free Festival in Aberdeen will get underway on Friday November 2 with The Great War Remembered. The free event will guide the audience through the outbreak of the war and some of the major battles that occurred as both sides tried to end the deadlock of trench warfare and will feature readings, poems, photographs, film and music.

To help convey the all-pervasive nature of the war, Great War Centenary Remembered will draw upon personal accounts and memories. John Bett, known for his roles in the films Tess and Gregory’s Girl, A Very English Scandal and the Golden Compass, soloist Fiona Kennedy and staff and students from the University, will take on the thoughts and words of real soldiers, doctors, nurses and others who witnessed events to present their testimony and allow the ‘voices’ to be heard.

The Festival will then move from reflections on the past to a debate which has dominated headlines throughout 2018 with Professor Roger Pertwee exploring the ‘highs and lows’ of medicinal cannabis at an event in the Central library at 12.30pm on Saturday November 3.

He will share details of his own research with the audience and debate with them the ways in which the potential benefits of medicinal cannabis can be maximised while minimising the risks.

On Monday November 5 the Festival continues at King’s College at 5.30pm with an event examining how the University of Aberdeen and local education partners are building social practises to improve adult literacy in Rwanda where more than a quarter of adults cannot read or write and nearly half have only very basic skills.

The in the Central Library at 6.30pm Dr Ilia Xypolia from the University of Aberdeen will examine whether imperialism still holds any relevance today, looking at lessons learned from Cyprus.

Continuing the international theme on Tuesday the University’s Dr Andrea Teti and Professor Pamela Abbott will consider how people across the Arab world perceive European governments in a session at New King’s, King’s College at 5.30pm.

At 7pm on Tuesday the focus will shift to cybersecurity with Dr John Paul Vargheese from University of Aberdeen looking at how our behaviour is often manipulated and exploited by attackers to gain access to the IT systems we are using at the Belmont Film House.

Audiences on Wednesday can hear about the results of recent interviews with a sample of Aberdeen Children of the Nineteen Fifties and their experiences growing up in Aberdeen throughout the next decades in the Suttie Centre at Foresterhill from 6.30pm and about the ethics of Artificial Intelligence (AI) at the Carmelite Hotel at 7.30pm.

Dr Rebecca Crozier from the University’s archaeology department will talk members of the public through the history of burial practices at a talk on Thursday in the Sir Duncan Rice Library at 6.30pm where she will draw on the pioneering work of Aberdonian Egyptologist Nora Griffith (1873-1937).

Also marking the achievements of women is a special participatory event on Saturday 10 November from 12noon to 2pm on Castlegate which aims to bring to light the names and accomplishments of women who have often been overlooked by the writers of history. This will be followed by a talk on the subject in WORM, Castle Street by Terri Bell Halliwell at 3pm.

Organiser Chris Croly from the University of Aberdeen’s Public Engagement with Research team said: “We are delighted with the line-up for the Festival this year. The diversity of topics reflects the strength and diversity of social science across the University of Aberdeen.

“There are so many researchers working on different aspects of social science and our Festival this year takes in subjects are broad as medicinal cannabis, literacy in Rwanda and the archaeology of death. This is a great chance for people to hear about some of the most important research being conducted by the University, and it’s all free.”

Booking for the majority of events can we found at www.abdn.ac.uk/foss for The Great War Centenary Remembered please visit www.abdn.ac.uk/events/13696/