We’re excited to announce that the full programme for the UK Science Festivals Network (UKSFN) 2018 conference is now live! Don’t forget to book your tickets and join us at the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea on the 21 November to discuss all things science festivals and events.

Click here for tickets and more information  

This year we’re excited to bring together a diverse collection of inspiring speakers from different sectors in the UK and beyond.  Find out more about the on-the-day sessions below.


The changing face of festivals  

With over 45 festivals in the UKSFN, it’s been a busy 2018 with activities taking place throughout the country. But what are we doing as a sector to ensure we’re reacting to audience needs and staying relevant in a changing landscape? We’ve gathered voices from across the sector to discuss how we continue to innovate and grow science festivals in the UK and beyond, tackling important challenges such as funding, diversity and content development. 

Algorithmic bias and race 

Festivals can’t happen without modern, dynamic content, and artificial intelligence (AI) is the topic of the day. This talk will unpack research by Alexander Fefegha on racial and gender bias in AI products and systems. Alex will take us through a case study concerned with algorithmic bias in software used in law, giving a different perspective on how AI may be doubling down on existing social injustices. 

Innovating by design  

The Design Council is an independent, enterprising charity and the government’s advisor on design. It is recognised as a leading authority on the use of strategic design as a tool to tackle major societal challenges, drive economic growth and innovation, and improve the quality of the built environment. Join Ellie Runcie, their Director of Growth and Innovation, as she shares how organisations can use design as a framework for innovation and how they are working with the UKSFN to do just that. 

Celebrating anniversaries of scientific achievements 

2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing. Such missions have had a profound effect on popular culture, inspiring stories of space exploration which surpass ‘science fiction’ and become reality. Join Jaclyn Bell from the UK Association for Science and Discovery Centres to explore potential avenues for your 2019 festivals and find out how they’re working with partners to collate inspiring events around the country. 

Thinking differently about evaluation and impact 

We can sometimes hit a rut when evaluating events and communicating our impact. Savita Willmott will look at provocative new ways of capturing key metrics and how we can work together to better advocate for festivals and events. We’ll borrow creative ideas from other sectors and have a frank discussion about how much time, energy and resource we really put into this vital part of the process.

Starting from scratch: an American tale 

In less than a decade, the US Science Festivals Alliance has supported many new festivals. Interested in starting a festival in your area? Are you thinking about how to grow and create permanency in your town? Join Ben Wiehe to hear some of the tricks that have worked across the pond. 

Making IMPACTS with diversity 

We’re delighted to welcome the University of North Carolina’s Morehead Planetarium and Science Centre Community Engagement Specialist, Tamara Poles. In this session, she will explore how their science communication program, IMPACTS, is helping the North Carolina Science Festival become more diverse and engaging for the public.   

Keeping the show on the road 

Freedom Festival celebrated its 10th anniversary this year. It carved out a niche as the leading arts festival in Yorkshire, but it’s not always been an easy journey. Join Artistic Director and CEO Mikey Martins for an honest conversation about the highs, lows and challenges of running a festival, covering everything from funding and content curation, through to career progression and resilience. 

Diversifying arts events in science festivals 

Are you keen to experiment with off-the-shelf or bespoke productions, but unsure where to start? Join this panel, chaired by Dane Comerford, to explore parallels between presenting one-off or touring commissions and something from the festival circuit. With examples of hosting performances on mental health to zoology or solar physics, gain insight into how small-scale theatre and dance can enhance your events.  

Involving young voices 

You may have wild and wonderful ideas of what ‘youths’ want to experience at an event, but do you really know what they’re itching for? One solution is to involve them in the process, from decision making to developing content and shaping the programme. But is it easier said than done? Hear from people in the sector and beyond who have successfully collaborated with young people, ensuring their voices enabled action and impact.  

This Girl Can 

Sport can often have the same barriers as science: time, accessibility, confidence. What can we learn from the successes of Sport England’s viral This Girl Can campaign, which masterminded national engagement for women in sport? Join Kate Dale from Sport England as she shares the research they undertook which led to the high-impact and effective programme. 



Please note this is subject to change.  

9.30  Registration + coffee 
10.15  Welcome session     
10.30  The changing face of festivals     
11.30  Algorithmic bias and race     

Lunch  + Science events showcase  

13.15  Innovating by design    Celebrating anniversaries of scientific achievements 
14.15  Thinking differently about evaluation and impact  Starting from scratch: an American tale  Making IMPACTS with diversity 
15.15  Tea break 
15.45  Keeping the show on the road  Integrating arts within science festivals  Involving young voices 
16.45  This Girl Can     
17.15  Drinks reception 


Will you be arriving on the 20 November? 

In the evening before the conference, join us for an exclusive, free showing of The Most Unknown, an epic documentary film that sends nine scientists to extraordinary parts of the world to uncover unexpected answers to some of humanity's biggest questions.  

VenueCinema & Co.  

Timings: Film starts at 19.00  

Tickets: Free, booking required. More details on how to book coming soon.

In the meantime you can watch the trailer. 

See you in Swansea! 



Questions? Contact [email protected]