Discuss, Debate, Discover: NI Festival of Social Science (5-11 Nov) #ESRCFestival

esrc-festival-flyer-coverThe Northern Ireland Festival of Social Science begins on Saturday 5 and runs until Friday 11 November across venues in Belfast and Derry. The UK-wide festival is sponsored by the Economic & Social Research Council and the local events are run in collaboration with Ulster University, Open University and Queen’s University. Some events have already been previewed on Slugger. You can find the full programme online and the summary list in PDF flyer.


Sunday 6 November at 7pm (Black Box) – What is public art’s role in reimagining Northern Ireland’s post-conflict identity? The OU’s Dr Bree Hocking will consider the proxy battles over the right to define Northern Ireland’s new symbolic landscapes that have taken over from sectarian violence.

Monday 7 November at 7pm (Black Box) – Dr Brian Barton will reflect on the social impact of the 1941 Belfast Blitz on its 75th anniversary. What was its affect on morale, population movement, education, housing, health, faith and economy? And what were the wider implications of this traumatic and unprecedented event in terms of inter-communal tensions and relations between Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and the Westminster government?

Tuesday 8 November at 7pm (Black Box) – Drs Jenny Meegan and Philip O’Sullivan will discuss the findings of an Open University prisons oral history project that captured over 90 audio interviews with Loyalist and Republican ex-prisoners, as well as OU tutors and prison education staff associated the organisation’s education between 1972 and 2000. The researchers note that “while the individual narratives of the educational journeys of these students in prison have great interest as personal stories, collectively, and when supplemented by their tutors and also others in the prison and education service, a fascinating picture emerges providing a unique insight into teaching, politics and conflict transformation in a very particular place and during a very particular time in Northern Ireland”.

Wednesday 9 November at 3pm (Black Box) – A panel discussion on the role of sport in society and the part it can play in breaking down barriers in society, led by the OU’s Dr Teresa Willis and including local practitioners who will explain what sporting inclusion can tell us about the type of society we live in. The discussion will be informed by research into homophobia in football as well as the experience of community groups working with adults and young peopleto break down religious divides and cultural barriers in NI sport.

Other events will explore apologies and dealing with the past (Monday 7 November at noon in QUB Peter Froggatt Centre), reimagining the peace walls (launch on Monday 7 November at 6pm in Black box with workshop in UU Belfast 8-10 November), women in religious orders during the Troubles (Tuesday 8 November at 2pm in Black Box), an interactive (and streamed) 15 to 1 measuring the value of data sharing in NI, and the smart technology for smarter living mobile lab (parked up on Academy Street between 3pm and 8pm on Friday 11 November).


Monday 7 November at 7pm (Nerve Centre) – The NI Autism Strategy was launched in January 2014 with one of its main purposes to facilitate greater inclusion and participation in society for people with autism and their families. On Monday evening, the OU’s Karen Hagan will ask how an ideal world for parents of autistic children is constructed and explore some of the dilemmas and challenges faced by parents of autistic children.

Other events include exploring the inclusion of young people as peer educators of social work students (Thursday 10 November at 10am in Nerve Centre) and Multicultural and Migrant Narratives of 1916 (Thursday 10 November at 6pm in Tower Museum).

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