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About the festival

The ESRC’s Festival of Social Sciences is an annual, weeklong series of engagement events held across the UK, which celebrate research that helps us understand and shape the society we live in. This year the festival has gone virtual, and as you cannot come to us, we are bringing society to your sofa!

Never before, have the social sciences been so important. Amid a global pandemic, society is changing dramatically and at a dizzying pace. The way we work, socialise, seek medical support, spend our money and manage our relationships as individuals, families, communities and countries is changing. What will the ‘new normal’ be and how should the society of tomorrow look? Is this the Zoombieapocalypse or is there a brighter future on the horizon? Come and discuss with us!

This year’s festival will offer a broad range of events, spanning from big theoretical panel discussions taking on the world’s most pressing issues, to exhibitions, social experiments and much more.

Social Scientists from the 18 Universities, who make up this year’s festival partnership, will lead these events, bringing their expertise and research to inform, challenge and shape the debate.

When: 7-15 November 2020 - view events


The ESRC’s festival began life in 2002 as Social Science Week - a collection of around 25 events, mainly seminars aimed towards an academic audience. Over the years Social Science Week has grown to a much larger and more inclusive national festival of activities, aimed at policymakers, business, the public and young people. It is a key element of the ESRC and its partner institutions commitment to promote awareness of UK social science research to new audiences.

The ESRC’s Aims & Values:


  • Encourage, support and create opportunities for social science researchers to engage with non-academic audiences
  • Promote and increase awareness of the social sciences and ESRC-funded research
  • Promote and increase awareness of the contribution social science makes to the wellbeing and the economy of society in the UK
  • Enable the public to engage with social science research
  • Engage with teachers and young people and to raise their awareness of the social sciences
  • Engage young people and schools in social sciences.


  • The social sciences make a vital contribution to the UK and its economy, by helping to address global societal challenges and improve lives.
  • The events shaping our world – from Brexit and coronavirus to geopolitical tensions and civic protests – reveal how social science is more key to understanding the world than ever.
  • Social sciences are essential to increasing social mobility, tackling poverty, improving the health and wellbeing of society, and to understanding the causes and nature of conflict, environmental change and securing our future.
  • Social science has positive real-world impact with the power to aid growth, promote innovation and shape society

Welcome to the 2020 Festival of Social Science

This website is an archived version of the 2020 festival, visit the main website for this years events