A celebration of social science in the UK: the ESRC festival of social science

When SAGE was founded, nearly fifty years ago, our founder Sara Miller McCune firmly believed that publishing engaged scholarship could change the way we look at the world. She was – and remains – passionate about the role that research plays in society, in creating healthy minds and healthy cultures, and helping to foster better public policy.

At the heart of our publishing is therefore a deeply held commitment to the social sciences, and in recognising the crucial role social science plays in society. That is why we’re absolutely delighted to be participating in the 10th annual Economic Social & Research Council (ESRC) Festival of Social Science, taking place all this week. SAGE will be hosting a festival event tonight (Monday), jointly with the British Academy. Both SAGE and the British Academy have long supported the festival, which we believe strongly helps to showcase the valuable work of the UK’s social scientists and demonstrate how their work has an impact on all our lives.

Our event this year concentrates on a truly ‘big’ topic for social scientists: ‘Big Data’. What opportunities does ‘Big Data’ offer to the social sciences?  What challenges are there, what skills, training and resources are needed? And what are the wider implications for public scrutiny and debate?

These challenges cannot be solved by the research community alone. We are therefore thrilled to have convened a panel that offers such a strong representation of the stakeholders engaged in social science, both from the research and policy perspective. These are:

  • Professor Paul Boyle, Chief Executive of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
  • Professor Harvey Goldstein FBA, Professor of Social Statistics at the University of Bristol and a leading expert on league tables.
  • Dr Farida Vis, a Research Fellow in the Social Sciences at the University of Sheffield who has been part of the Guardian newspaper’s groundbreaking Reading the Riots project – part of the team that examined 2.5 million riot tweets.
  • Paul Woobey, the Chief Information Officer (CIO), Director of the Strategy and Standards Directorate, Head of the IT Profession and Senior Information Risk Owner for the ONS.

The media also plays a key role in raising public engagement with Big Data, and we are therefore delighted to have Polly Toynbee, a political and social commentator for The Guardian, as our chair.

If you didn’t manage to register for a ticket, you can still follow the event on Twitter by following #BASAGE12.

This is just one of so many events that will take place over the next week to recognise the value and relevance of the social sciences. There is a full listing available from the festival website.

We also hope that many of you will join us in sharing what you’re involved in or are attending as part of the festival. In fact, we’re opening up our social science community network, www.socialsciencespace.com as a space to share your experiences and plans as the week progresses: tell us what the social sciences mean to you!

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