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Imagine! Festival of Ideas and Politics.

'Imagine' the Belfast of your dreams! 

This event in now SOLD out. To be added to the reserve list contact​

The Open University will explore the relevance of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the New Urban Agenda in the local context of UK cities such as Belfast. This interactive event will present cutting-edge work undertaken by the University with particular reference to the ‘New Urban Agenda’ and as well as challenges to ‘inclusiveness’ and the ‘right to the city’.

Date: 21 March 2017

Location: The Open University

                                                                                                      Time: 18.30-19.30


Brexit and the border: so what? 

This event in now SOLD out. To be added to the reserve list contact​

Join The Open University for a panel discussion about ‘Brexit’ and its implications for the jurisdictions on the island of Ireland. Will the triggering of Article 50 be a serious blow to peace, politics, trade, or is this simply unfounded scaremongering?

Panel Chair: John D’Arcy, National Director of The Open University

Panel Members: Dr Philip O’Sullivan, Senior Lecturer in Politics

Panel Member: Colette FitzGerald, Head of Office, Office of the European Commission in Northern Ireland

Panel Member: Rowena Dwyer, Chief Economist, Irish Farmers’ Association

Panel Member: Noel Doran, Editor, The Irish News

Panel Member: Professor David Phinnemore

Panel Member: Dr Anthony Soares, Deputy Director, Centre for Cross Border Studies

Dates: 22 March 2017

Location: Ulster Museum, Belfast Room 

Time: 18.30-19.30

Open University students inside the Maze Long Kesh Compounds 

This event in now SOLD out. To be added to the reserve list contact​

Join Dr Jenny Meegan and Dr Philip O’Sullivan from The Open University for a talk and discussion on the findings of an oral history project based on over 90 audio interviews with Loyalist and Republican ex-prisoners, Open University staff, prison education staff and OU students who were associated with the prisons in a professional capacity during the period of conflict 1972-2000. This collective story provides a unique insight into learning, politics and conflict transformation in the early 1970s in the Maze Long Kesh Compounds, ‘The Open University's most unusual study centre’.

Date: 23 March 2017

Location: Ulster Museum, Belfast Room 

Time: 18.30-20.00

Reading in Conflict 

Join Maya Parmar and Shaf Towheed from The Open University for a cup of coffee and a relaxed evening of facilitated reading groups. With a focus on ‘reading across divisions’, Maya and Shaf will provide extracts from a range of prose and poetry to facilitate discussion around themes of conflict for an interactive and discursive workshop.

Date: 23 March 2017

Location: Waterstones 

Time: 18.30-20.00


Why is Elvis in your toast?

Join The Open University for a uniquely engaging talk about what it means to see things in everyday objects, like angels in the clouds or Elvis in your toast! Interacting with the audience, Dr Patrick Wright will explore ‘Pareidolia’ in society, and how ‘seeing images in objects’, can be a result of historical influences or our innate fears and anxieties.

Date: 25 March 2017

Location: Crescent Arts Centre, The Studio

Time: 18.30-19.30



This exhibition by Melissa Bailey and Lisa Bowers is inspired by a story of a marginalized young man who, in rebellion and social withdrawal, constructed an alternative way of living in an old abandoned dodge bus. Visit The Open University’s exhibition to explore and consider issues of marginalisation in today’s society.

Date: 21-26 March 2017

Location: Crescent Arts Centre, The Studio



From Titanic Town to Narnia

Join Dr Bree Hocking from The Open University for an exploration of fantasy and fiction across Belfast’s post-industrial landscapes. Bree will examine East Belfast’s transition to a ‘nearly true’ land of whimsy and pleasure through the emerging Narnia-fication of the built environment there.

Date: 26 March 2017

Location: Ulster Museum, Belfast Room 

Time: 14.00-15.00


A world without prisons? 

This event in now SOLD out. To be added to the reserve list contact​

The Open University will challenge our assumptions on prisons and what role they have to play, if any, in abating crime. From Budapest to Belfast, global prison populations are on the rise and over the course of twenty years, the prison population has grown exponentially, even as recorded crime has fallen. Should the system be reformed or is another radical world possible, where prisons do not exist?

Date: 26 March

Location: Crumlin Road Gaol

Time: 19.00-20.30


Register here 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017 - 18:30 to Sunday, March 26, 2017 - 20:30