University of Edinburgh: Research festival spotlights pressing issues

The secrets to long lasting relationships, discussions around diet choices, and the environmental benefits of seaweed are among the topics to be explored at a major research showcase.

Researchers from the University’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences are joining a stellar line up of interactive events as part of the Economic and Social Research Council’s nationwide Festival of Social Science.

The festival, which takes place from 1 to 30 November, will offer the public opportunities to explore topics relating to social science through events run by researchers from UK universities.

The programme of more than 300 events include talks, performances, exhibitions, participatory events and panel debates in a mixture of online and in-person formats. Bookings can be made from the Festival website.

To tie in with the COP26 UN climate change conference, the environment is a key theme with events covering a range of topics, such as our relationship with the natural environment and how human behaviour can reduce carbon emissions.

Covid-19 transition
Clinical psychologist Karri Gillespie-Smith will examine how Covid-19 and the transition from lockdown has affected children with intellectual disabilities and their caregivers.

Presented in partnership with representatives from practice, education, charity and advocacy groups, the event will include a digital exhibition and discussions on findings from a new study.

Seaweed solutions
Niki Vermeulen, from the University’s School of Social and Political Sciences, will lead a workshop that examines the historic, current and future uses of seaweed – including its potential in absorbing carbon emissions and regenerating marine ecosystems.

The one-day workshop will involve an introductory seaweed foray at Granton beach followed by a workshop at Granton:hub where participants will have the opportunity to create artworks with seaweed specimens.

Relationship lessons
Psychologist Sarah Stanton will lead an event examining the key, evidence-based ingredients that make happy romantic relationships last.

The event brings together experts in the psychology of relationships from around the UK to share some of the most cutting-edge research on building better romantic relationships.

Food choices
Steve Loughan of the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences is joining a panel of experts to discuss some of the themes around a meat or meat free diet.

The event focuses on creating a dialogue among people embracing different food choices, to promote a better understanding of people’s motivations about different lifestyles.

Across cultures
Laura Cariola, a Lecturer in Applied Psychology, is leading an event for young people to explore transcultural experiences through the use of the visual arts.

Organised in collaboration with Forces Children Scotland and the Scottish Council of Independent Schools the event will use art activities to develop conversations and awareness around the theme of identity and wellbeing in communities.

Breath work
The benefits of deep breathing for wellbeing will be the focus of an interactive workshop led by Edinburgh researchers from the School of Health in Social Science.

It will showcase the basic principles of how we breathe, and breathing techniques to improve physical and emotional wellbeing which can be a helpful tool for managing emotions such as anxiety, organisers say.

Living wage
Ishbel McWha-Hermann of Edinburgh Business School is joining a panel of experts examining the latest research into the living wage.

It will look at how work and organisational psychology is expanding knowledge of the impact and consequences of low paid work on workers, organisations and societies.

Period discussions
Issues surrounding menstruation will be discussed in panel event led by Steve Yearly, Director of IASH, the University’s Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities

The event, which is targeted to young people, will provide a unique opportunity to listen to experts sharing their knowledge of matters related to periods in an open, inclusive, and accessible forum.

Suicide responses
Experts will share brand new research findings seeking to understand what contributes to, and protects LGBT+ young people from suicide.

Led by Hazel Marzetti from the School of Health in Social Science, the event will offer a reflective space for young people, professionals and the public to learn how scholars, services and society can play a role in preventing youth suicide in Scotland.

Lockdown diaries
A group of researchers from the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences will share findings on what lessons can be learned from the Lothian Lockdown Diary Project – when volunteers were invited to record their lockdown experiences to help academics assess Covid-19’s impact on the community.

An online presentation and roundtable discussion at the Scottish parliament will showcase the diversity of experiences in the diaries, and inform policymakers and the wider public about the marginalised voices, particularly youth, as they experience the pandemic.

The Festival of Social Science began in 2002 as Social Science Week, with around 25 events. It has run annually since then, growing in size, breadth and coverage.

The Festival plays a key role promoting the benefits of the social sciences to society and to connect researchers with new audiences.

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