Academics and performers unite for Festival of Social Science

  • University of Sheffield academics showcase world-class research as part of the national ESRC Festival of Social Science
  • Researchers work with artists and performers to explore the issues that shape our lives
  • Highlights include one man play on child soldiers and discussion with autistic teen nature campaigner

Festival of Social Sciences brochure cover

University of Sheffield experts have teamed up with artists, theatre groups and performers to bring their research to life as part of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Festival of Social Science.

The festival will bring free exhibitions, theatrical performances, workshops, talks and hands-on activities to venues across Sheffield from 2-9 November 2019. From intimacy issues faced by women in midlife, to Japanese pop culture, the events offer an opportunity to explore new perspectives and learn from other societies.

The festival sees the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University work together to showcase the city as a hub for world-leading social science.

Professor Craig Watkins, Vice President and Head of the Faculty of Social Science at the University of Sheffield, said: “The ESRC Festival of Social Science is about academics and the public questioning the ideas and influences that shape our lives.

“Social scientists explore the big questions behind how our societies function, helping us to build a fairer, happier, more sustainable world. By working with artists and performers, they can tell powerful stories that inspire us to rethink our everyday assumptions.”

Highlights from University of Sheffield researchers at this year’s ESRC Festival of Social Science include:

It's in my nature: Dara McAnulty in conversation with Dr Jo Birch, Saturday 2 November 2019

Dara McAnulty, a 15-year-old autistic nature campaigner, joins Dr Jo Birch from the Department of Landscape Architecture to discuss the importance of nature for mental wellbeing.

The aesthetics of drones, Monday 4 November 2019

An evening exploring the controversial world of drone warfare. Following a screening of the 2016 documentary film National Bird, international artists Mahwish Chisty and Tomas van Houtryve will talk about their own drone-related work in a panel discussion with Dr Beryl Pong and colleagues.

Rendition, Wednesday 6 November 2019

A radical work from Edinburgh-based company Tragic Carpet, Rendition uses detailed research findings from the Rendition Project, led by Professor Ruth Blakeley, to tell the story of one man's nightmare experience as the first suspect to be taken into the CIA's detention programme.

Tales from the global south, Thursday 7 November 2019

International development researchers have worked with a professional storyteller to craft stories about their work. The stories they tell will cover a variety of different countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America covering topics such as, people, the environment, livelihoods and communities.

I am human, Thursday 7 November 2019

A stirring theatrical performance by Dead Earnest Theatre that explores issues of dignity and decency in police custody. Follow Jamal and Leona as they are arrested by police, processed, and detained in a custody facility.

Far Gone, Friday 8 November 2019

A one-man play written and performed by Sheffield Ugandan actor and director John Rwoth-Omack, tells the story of a young boy from northern Uganda who is captured and forced into becoming a child soldier.

To book and view the full programme please visit

Additional information

The University of Sheffield

With almost 29,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.

A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

Sheffield is the only university to feature in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For 2018 and for the last eight years has been ranked in the top five UK universities for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education.

Sheffield has six Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.


For further information please contact:

Sophie Armour
Media and PR Officer
The University of Sheffield
0114 222 3687
07751 400 287