The ESRC Festival of Social Science: Climate Change Focus at the University of Salford

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Alongside dealing with Covid-19 the world faces a major challenge to address the on-going climate crisis. Last week saw the announcement of the Earthshot prize winners and all eyes are now turning to the forthcoming COP26 conference (31st October- 12th November) with wide hopes that a new and effective international agreement can be made to limit the emission of green-house gases and the resultant negative effects of climate change. As part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science the University of Salford is holding a series of events across November to explore the world of social science with a focus on how our behaviour can help fight climate change. These events are open to both academic audiences and wider public and represent an opportunity to engage with cutting edge research in the social sciences.

You can register for all events here:

Here’s what’s going on and when:

COP26 Universities LIVE 8th November 2021, 17.00 – 18.00 and 15th November 2021, 17.00-18.00

Audiences can tune in to a 1hr live stream focused on ‘This Week at COP26’ where the speakers will be reacting to the Presidency programme, bringing in their own social scientific research insights to the discussions of the day, including reactions to press responses. It will be similar to the ‘newspaper review’ on BBC News 24, but with a unique social scientist’s take on the proceedings. Sessions will be streamed live on YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. The panel will be led by Dr. Andy Miah Chair of Science Communication & Future Media, University of Salford, who is leading on digital and public communications within the COP26 Universities Network.

Motherload: E-cargo Bikes for Low-Carbon Family Transport, 10th November 2021, 18.00 – 19.00

This event is a free online screening of the documentary film ‘Motherload’, followed by a live panel discussion with leading experts including headed by Dr Graeme Sherriff, who leads the Healthy Active Cities team at the University of Salford.

 ‘Motherload’ is a film about the cargo bike revolution building around the world. The film follows Liz Canning’s (the filmmaker) own story, going from being a keen cyclist to having young twins, then feeling the need to have a car and reaching a point where her cycling life felt like it was most likely over. Her life was transformed by the discovery of cargo bikes as a different way to get herself, her children, her shopping and everything else, around her city. In her enthusiasm she starts to connect to online cargo bike communities, and decides to make a film about it. She meets amazing passionate advocates along the way from across the US, and the world. Her cargo bike becomes part of her own response to the climate crisis.

Motherload has won numerous awards including and accolades including a 2020 Better Cities Film Festival Hero Award. The trailer can be viewed here:

Climate Change Conspiracies and Covid, 13th November 11am-1pm

Recently on the 18th October The Heartland Institute hosted its climate change denying conference against ‘climate socialism’, using pseudo-scientific arguments to dispute IPCC reports of climate change and its impact, using Covid to stoke fears of Climate lockdowns. ( The growth of online conspiracy theory movements denying climate change and COVID represent an existential threat to our planet. How can we counter this vast online extremist cult network? This workshop examines the rabbit hole, prevention approaches and how to rescue people from it. Attending will help counter these toxic ideas and provide tips for those dealing with loved ones caught up in conspiracy theories.

A video presentation on climate change conspiracy theories will kick off this creative and interactive workshop in the context of the COVID pandemic. Is anti-vax and COVID denial part of a connected conspiracy denying climate change? How deep does this rabbit hole go? How do we stop people getting sucked in and how do we get them out? This workshop will debate this disturbing area which is threatening progress on climate change and COVID – a deadly double nexus.

The panel will be chaired by International experts on online extremism and conspiracies, Rod and Linda Dubrow-Marshall, from the University of Salford.

Cognitive Restoration: The Effects of the Environment on Thinking, 27th November 2021, 10.00 – 17.00.

Do you want to know how to get more from your mind and brain? Come along and find out how nature can benefit thinking and processing!  Humans have a limited set of thought processes so when we have spent time concentrating on a task, making a decision, or solving a problem we experience ‘mental fatigue’. This means our ability to remember information, focus, and make accurate decisions is impaired. Research in psychology shows that nature environments can help to ‘restore’ our thought processes and so if we spend more time engaging with nature we may be able to enhance our thinking!

At this online exhibit we will be explaining the science behind “cognitive restoration”, showcasing the effects of nature on the mind and brain using eye-tracking, and giving you the opportunity to tell us about the environments you find most restorative. Please drop by and find out how to boost your brain with nature!

The event will be led by Dr Catherine Thompson (a cognitive psychologist) and Dr Michael Lomas (an environmental psychologist) from the University of Salford. Catherine and Mike will be closely supported by two postgraduate research students from Psychology, David Beevers and Eve Bent.

Other Events

In addition to these climate change events Salford’s contribution to the Festival of Social Science will also focus on Autism (See here for details) with the following events:

  • The Autistic Defendant in the Courtroom, 11th November 2021, 13.00 – 16.30
  • Exercise, Sleep and Word-Learning in Autistic Children, 14th November 2021, 15.00 – 16.30

The festival will also host the following events (See here for details):

  • We Love Peel Park: Graphic Novel Launch, 18th November 2021, 18.00 – 19.30
  • Pirates and Exploding Man! A Hazard Signs Interactive Intervention, 23rd November 2021, 10.00 – 12.00.
  • Social Capital: Understanding its Value in Strengthening Resilience, 29th November 2021, 10.00 – 12.00