The annual Edinburgh Science Festival (ESF) is the world’s first and still Europe’s biggest of its kind. Having been postponed from its usual slot around the Easter holidays, it will take place instead this year from Saturday 26th June to Sunday 11th July. With the theme One World: Science Connects Us, and the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) to be held in Glasgow in November in mind, it will have programming for the planet at its core.
The Festival programme is presenting 200 events, tours, exhibitions and workshops for children, young people and adults, with over 70% of these events being available online and free to access to anyone around the world. While, like other public events, things are by necessity different this year, the element of live engagement is back with a focus on getting out and about to interact with all sorts of science. A range of walks, tours and outdoor events is part of the programme arranged in collaboration with Festival’s programming partners such as the National Museums Scotland; the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh; Dynamic Earth; the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s Edinburgh Zoo; University of Edinburgh; Edinburgh Napier University; Heriot-Watt University; Royal Academy of Engineering; British Ecological Society and others.
With a ground-breaking 60% of the Festival’s speakers being women this year, ESF leads the way in gender balance as it confirms its role as a champion of the achievements of women in science and science communication. It features insights into the respective fields of Professor Heidi Larson, who is this year’s Edinburgh Medal recipient and the Founding Director of the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine; Professor of Public Health and an adviser to the Covid-19 Committee of the Scottish Parliament, Linda Bauld and conservationist and adventurer Sacha Dench, among many others.
The under-representation of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) and stereotypes sadly persist, despite many long-standing initiatives to boost young women’s interest. The Festival’s 2021 programme not only gives female scientists, engineers, science communicators and explorers a platform to share their knowledge and passion with the world, but also shines a light on their achievements through a series of ambitious events and exhibitions.
Edinburgh Science’s Festival and Creative Director, Amanda Tyndall, said, “It is an understatement to say that it has been an exceptional year; a year that has shown us just how intimately interconnected our world is. We share one world and need to innovate and collaborate to tackle global challenges and embrace the opportunities ahead. In in a spirit of optimism, resilience and hope – our 2021 Festival explores new ideas and formats that ensure audiences can safely get their science fix this summer.”
This year, Cirrus Logic is the Edinburgh Science Festival’s Headline Sponsor with public sector funding coming from the Scottish Government, City of Edinburgh Council, Expo and PLACE funds and EventScotland.
Full details of the ESF programme can be found on their website.