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2017 ESRC Festival NI organised by The Open University

ESRC Festival of Social Science

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Festival of Social Science in Northern Ireland took place from 4-11 November 2017.

This year, The Open University was the lead partner in the organisation of the festival alongside Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University. The festival aims to open up leading research to new audiences, bringing social science into the public domain, and showing how the discipline influences our social, economic and political lives both now and in the future.

This year, 31 free events took place across eight days in Belfast and Derry. They offered people the chance to debate, discuss and discover how social science shapes our lives: at work, in schools, when raising families and within our communities with talks and workshops and events to suit everyone. Some OU highlights in the packed week-long programme included:

‘Can they economy be Irish?’ With the looming threat of a hard border between the north and south of Ireland, Dr Leslie Budd and Dr Graham Brownlow (from Queen’s University) explored the contribution of agri-food to Ireland’s economy and culture.

‘Social regeneration in Northern Ireland’ Who is responsible for social regeneration in Northern Ireland? Northern Ireland is plagued by arrested development when it comes to socio-economic and political issues, largely due to the breakdown of political processes in the region. Dr Alessandro Sancino discussed how local political, managerial and civic leaders can work with citizens to boost social regeneration in the community.

‘Female ministry: contexts and challenges’. Throughout the history of the Christian Church, women’s ministerial roles have been controversial and contested. Malachi O’Doherty chaired a panel to discuss the historical background to women’s ministry, the challenges women in ministry in Ireland continue to face, and ways to encourage women’s ministry in the future.

‘Wynne Godley: the man who predicted a crisis’ Who is Wynne Godley and why should we care about him? What if we told you this man not only foresaw the 2008 global financial crisis but accurately predicted the Eurozone crisis? Our very own Open University economist, Alan Shipman, gave a fascinating exploration of Godley's life, firstly as a stage-frightened oboist and finally as a strategic thinker who could have saved us from the meltdown.

‘How big data can predict your successes and failures’ How does big data shape the future of higher education? Dr Rogaten hosted an interactive workshop and debate on how learning analytics (or big data) can be used to predict someone's success or failure and how universities can use this data to advance students' learning.

‘Sport: the inequalities’. Dr Teresa Willis considered the role our identities, such as gender and sexuality, play in determining what sports (if any) we participate in. She also looked at the roles that the media, sporting organisations, and our own preconceptions can play.

The Festival was featured on local TV station, NVTV with an interview by Dr Alessandro Sancino and Dr Frances Morton on the 16th November. (play at 16.59)

For further information, please contact Dr Frances Morton, Policy and Public Affairs Manager, Ireland.

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Contact 
Dr Frances Morton 
Tel 02890 536262