ESRC: The state of Britain today debated at flagship festival event

Leading social scientists will reflect on some of the country’s most pressing issues at a showcase event on Thursday (7 November).

The interactive panel discussion, organised by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), gathers members of the public and policymakers with researchers who will present their findings on subjects including crime, poverty and ageing.

The evening will also see the launch of Britain in 2014, the ESRC's definitive annual magazine featuring key data and expert opinion on the state of the nation today. Each year, Britain in showcases how ESRC funded research influences and shapes the issues that matter in modern life. Thursday's event provides a unique opportunity for guests to put questions to the panel members who have contributed to the magazine.

The discussion, at London's Church House, will be chaired by David Walker, contributing editor to the Guardian's public leaders network. Mr Walker said:

"From coping with older age to the new contours of religious faith, social science informs and deepens understanding. For decision makers in companies and government, in civil society and households, research provides context and enlightenment. At Britain in 2014 we're opening up social science research to policymakers and the public, encouraging challenge and debate and building a two-way flow of questions and knowledge."

Guests will be welcomed by Kelvin Hopkins MP – chair of the All Party Group for Social Science and Policy – with other panel members including Paul Johnson – Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies – and Professor Gloria Laycock from the What Works Centre for Crime Reduction.

The evening forms the flagship event of the ESRC Festival of Social Science, a week-long series of free events around the country, allowing members of the public to interact with academics at the forefront of social science research.

Professor Paul Boyle, Chief Executive of the ESRC, said:

"The annual Festival of Social Science is a fantastic opportunity for members of the public to find out more about the latest research across the breadth of the social science disciplines, including areas as diverse as education, energy use and the economy. The Britain in 2014 event sits right at the heart of the festival, as guests from all backgrounds question some of the country’s leading researchers on the issues that really matter. We anticipate that this will be a real highlight of the festival which is now in its 11th year."

ESRC Press Office:

Sarah Nichols
Telephone: 01793 413122

Susie Watts
Telephone: 01793 413119
Notes for editors

The Festival of Social Science is run by the Economic and Social Research Council and takes place from 2-9 November 2013. With events from some of the country's leading social scientists, the Festival celebrates the very best of British social science research and how it influences our social, economic and political lives – both now and in the future. This year's Festival of Social Science has over 170 creative and exciting events across the UK to encourage businesses, charities, government agencies, schools and college students to discuss, discover and debate topical social science issues. Press releases detailing some of the varied events and a full list of the programme are available at the Festival website. You can now follow updates from the Festival on Twitter using #esrcfestival
Britain in 2014 is available in WHSmiths Travel and High Street shops, Waitrose, Marks & Spencer and Boots, priced at £5.50
You can order a copy by emailing Azone at
Britain in 2014 showcases the diversity of ESRC-funded research. The magazine is a mixture of academic opinion pieces alongside informed journalistic writing, offering a concise analysis of research and topical issues concerning Britain today. An entertaining, accessible and informative magazine, Britain in 2014 will appeal to those who enjoy debate and current affairs and have an interest both in social sciences and UK society.
All profit made from the sale of the magazine is reinvested in research communication. The views and statements expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the ESRC.
The Economic and Social Research Council is the UK's largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. It supports independent, high quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and the third sector. The ESRC's total budget for 2012/13 is £205 million. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and independent research institutes.