Scientists invite young people and families to explore 'our environment' this weekend with a programme of free, hands-on events in Oxford

4 November 2021

Oxford University researchers are issuing the invitation as part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science - the UK's biggest celebration of social science research.

Running over the weekend of 6-7 November at Oxford's Pitt Rivers Museum, and reflecting the current COP26 climate change conference, the events celebrate the amazing impacts of social sciences research on people’s lives, on our environment, and on society as a whole.

With an exciting array of activities on offer from experts in anthropology, geography, sociology, and archaeology, the Festival promises activities to fascinate curious minds of all ages. From exploring Oxford city centre with air pollution sensors, to meeting artists and scientists working with blue carbon habitats, an interactive lecture with Prof. Danny Dorling exploring the link between social inequality and carbon footprints, and creating your own archaeological dig, attendees can engage with leading social scientists to explore our environments – in all their forms.

Professor Heather Viles, Associate Head (Research) of Oxford’s Social Sciences Division, said, 'I’m really impressed with the amazing variety and interactivity of the events on offer at this year’s Festival. With the environment and climate change at the forefront of everyone’s minds right now, these events provide a fantastic opportunity for people to get hands-on with social sciences research and to understand how our researchers are making a real difference to the environments we live in.”

The programme, a mixture of drop-in and bookable events, is being led by experts from the University of Oxford’s Schools of Anthropology, Archaeology, and Geography, and the Department of Sociology, and include:
Saturday 6 November

  • Climate Change, Small Islands, and Me
  • Dirty Parenting? Exploring good germs and bad germs in your child’s microbiome
  • Blue Carbon Habitats in Nature and Art: coastal ecosystems for a healthy planet
  • Social Inequality and Saving the Planet

Sunday 7 November

  • Sensor-y Walks: Exploring Air Pollution in Oxford
  • A Story in Sand: make your own excavation
  • Cashmere, Copper and Nomadic Cuisine: Exploring the tastes and textures of Mongolia

Full details can be found on the Festival website: You can also join the conversation at #ESRCFestival

Notes for editors:

Kayla Schulte, an event host from Oxford’s Department of Sociology, is available for comment. Please contact for interviews or more information.

Accessing the events
Location: Pitt Rivers Museum, Parks Rd, Oxford, OX1 3PW.
Entrance to the Pitt Rivers Museum is via the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PW. Once inside the Museum of Natural History, walk straight past the dinosaurs and take a left at the statue of Darwin - that's where you will find the Pitt Rivers' arched door. Come down the steps and you'll see our welcome desk, where you'll find directions to the various activities.

About the ESRC Festival of Social Science
The UK's biggest celebration of social research returns this November as the Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) Festival highlights the impact of research from across the social sciences and economics on people's lives.
The Festival of Social Science is an annual celebration of research and knowledge about human behaviour and how society functions. It’s an opportunity for anyone to explore topics relating to social science – from health and wellbeing to crime, equality, education and identity – through events run by researchers from UK universities. There’s no cost to attend, and most are open to everyone, though some are aimed at specific groups. Events are listed on the Festival website:

There will be over 400 events across the UK, delivered by 34 universities. They’ll be running throughout November in a mixture of online, in-person and hybrid formats, and will include talks, performances, exhibitions, participatory events and panel debates.

A key theme for the 2021 festival is the environment. We’ve timed the festival to tie in with the COP26 UN climate change conference and a number of our events explore issues such as our relationship with the natural environment and how we can change our behaviour to reduce carbon emissions. However, there are events on a huge range of other topics too.

The festival is led and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) []