Funded Public Engagement Opportunity – ESRC Festival of Social Science 2023 Open Call

The call for applications to this year’s ESRC Festival of Social Science is open – apply for funding of up to £1,000 to deliver your event or activity

The ESRC Festival of Social Science is an annual, UK-wide, free celebration of the social sciences. The festival consists of a series of events run each autumn, delivered by ESRC’s ‘festival partners’, higher education institutions from across the UK. Events range from exhibitions, lectures and panel debates through to performances, guided walks and workshops. Bournemouth University has been involved in the Festival of Social Science for over a decade.

The 2023 festival will run from Saturday 21 October to Friday 17 November 2023. Events will take place in the local area, largely off-campus, and online.

Partnership with the University of Southampton

The ESRC have changed their rules this year around which institutions can take part in the festival. As a result, instead of being a standalone contributor to the festival, BU will be collaborating with the University of Southampton (UoS). This is a great opportunity for us to collaborate where relevant, on events, planning, promotion and sharing networks. We will still be selecting, organising and running most events ourselves.

Why should I take part?

The festival is a prestigious initiative by a major research funder, and BU’s continued involvement is justified by the quality of our events and activities. Being part of this festival is an achievement worth citing and celebrating. It is an excellent opportunity to engage people outside of academia with your research and with the benefit of co-ordinated support and promotion from RDS and the ESRC.

You can apply for up to £1,000 to deliver your project.

What if I’ve never done public engagement before?

Everyone has to start somewhere, and this is the ideal place. You’ll have access to support, advice and training throughout. If you’re unsure, seek out a more experienced colleague to collaborate with.

Can I apply if I’m not a social scientist?

The ESRC says that events must “feature social science (ideally with a social scientist involved in the event)”. If this doesn’t clearly apply to you, consider these options;

  • Does your research have clear implications for society that could be explored from a social science perspective?
  • Could you collaborate with a social scientist, combining your resources and creativity to explore the impact of your research? If you’re looking for a collaborator, the Research Blog or BU website are great places to start or contact us for help.

What will I be expected to do?

  • Familiarise yourself with best practice for public engagement with research. Whether you’re new to this or experienced, there’s always room to improve
  • Submit an event proposal using the instructions below.
  • Events will be selected by our internal panel.
  • Plan, deliver and evaluate your activity or event, working with the public engagement team to shape your project into an impactful, professional and fascinating experience.

Timeline (approximate)

Open call for applications 20 June – 10 July
Application deadline 23:59, 10 July
Decisions shared by 21 July
Event planning 24 July onwards
Festival period 21 October – 17 November

How will the collaboration with University of Southampton work?

  • As this is the first year we have collaborated on the festival, we will learn as we progress. However, where possible we will be looking for opportunities to collaborate with UoS on events, sharing networks and promotion. If you collaborate with UoS researchers, this could be a great opportunity to hold an event together.

Is there a theme?

The theme is ‘lifelong wellbeing’, but this is not compulsory. The ESRC want to see at least 25% of events on this theme.

  • Events can be on any aspect of health and wellbeing.
  • The theme has been chosen so that you can include events on the 75th anniversary of the NHS if you wish to, but this is not essential.

What support will I get?

Being part of this festival means a higher level of support and reach than we are normally able to provide.

To support your application, we’re holding an online information session on how to apply on Thursday 29 June 11am-12pm

This session will explain more about the festival and how to apply through our open call for proposals. We’ll hear from Dr Maxine Gee who held a successful event as part of last year’s festival and who will share experience and advice. We’ll explain how this year’s collaboration with the University of Southampton will work, and how you might find collaborators for your projects.

Register here

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Before applying, you’ll have access to:

  • An information session from BU and UoS, featuring previous event holders.
  • Advice on request from BU’s Engagement Officer, Adam Morris.
  • The detailed applicant guidance provided on this page.

When your application is successful, you’ll get:

  • Funding of up to £1,000 managed by RDS.
  • Training provided by the ESRC Festival of Social Science.
  • Continuing advice and support from BU’s public engagement team on all areas of planning, delivering, evaluating your activity.
  • Wide-scale promotion and marketing of your event by BU, UoS and the ESRC.

How to Apply

Apply to take part in the ESRC Festival of Social Science 2023 by completing the online application form by midnight at the end of Monday 10 July 2023.

If you would like to prepare your application ‘offline’ you can download a copy of the form. This is for planning purposes only, you may not submit it.

Find out more about the resources available to help plan and support your application

Apply here

If you have any questions, please email the team.