Manchester Science Festival explores ideas for a better world

Manchester Science Festival is going digital with free online talks, exhibitions, debates and activities to enjoy from home
Brian Eno - credit Shamil Tanna; Helen Czerski - credit Alex Brenner
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Manchester Science Festival has been a key event in the city’s cultural calendar since 2007.

Now, the Science and Industry Museum is preparing for 10 days of online scientific celebration as the festival goes digital this year.

Further socially distanced, onsite activities, including UK premieres and a dedicated special event programme for families will also take place later in the year, supporting Manchester’s cultural, economic and skills recovery.

As the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, Manchester was the catalyst for scientific innovation and unprecedented change worldwide – and with Greater Manchester’s vision of becoming carbon-neutral by 2038, the city is primed to influence future progress.

The festival will support this through a programme that encourages communities, scientists and activists to advance ideas for a better world, with free online talks, exhibitions, debates and activities to enjoy from home while the museum remains temporarily closed.

Manchester born physicist, oceanographer and BBC broadcaster, Dr Helen Czerski, will ask the question, ‘How can I be a good citizen of the world?’ during a series of three lively discussions about transport, food and social justice with communities and campaigners who are making a difference.

Helen will be joined by a  wide-ranging panel of local guests, including the Mayor of Salford, Paul Dennett, and director of Open Kitchen MCR, Manchester’s leading sustainable catering company, Corin Bell.

You’ll be able to track the global story of climate change with the The Royal Photographic Society’s Science Photographer of the Year competition, which will now be showcased digitally from Manchester for the first time in a captivating online exhibition that depicts how science, technology and engineering are addressing this urgent issue.

It will exhibit stunning images, selected from over 1,000 entries taken by both expert and amateur photographers, including budding artists aged 17 and under, who submitted their photos as part of a specific competition for young people.

You can hear from those at the forefront of the fight against our altering climate in Changing The System as renowned musician and climate campaigner, Brian Eno, joins ClientEarth founder, James Thornton, to discuss how to use the power of law to combat climate change, protect the environment and build a future in which people and the planet thrive together.

And join an expert panel in Earth, but not as we know it: Lovelock’s legacy and our future as they respond to specially-recorded provocations from Dr James Lovelock, the 101-year-old scientist who studied at The University of Manchester and created the influential yet controversial Gaia Hypothesis.

Photo: Science Museum Group Collection

Home audiences can also tune into a livestream of the Royal Society’s You and the planet: air. Its expert panel will be tackling the important issue of air quality and how we can improve this and, subsequently, life on earth.

“The vital role museums play in providing fun, welcoming and engaging spaces, both physically and online, has never been more important,” says Sally MacDonald, director of the Science and Industry Museum.

“Although these are extremely tough times for everyone, we are taking the opportunity to create a digital offer that will continue to bring the joy of the museum directly into people’s homes.

“Our museum is home to ideas that change the world and continues to reflect and inspire innovators of the future and we’re working hard to find new ways of igniting curiosity while our doors remain closed.

“Manchester Science Festival is a major part of this, supporting communities, scientists and activists to explore and advance ideas for a better world.

“As we all continue to navigate the ongoing pandemic, Manchester Science Festival will look and feel different this year, but we have created a compelling digital programme that will deliver memorable experiences to audiences across the city and beyond.”

Manchester Science Festival, produced by the Science and Industry Museum, will run online from 12th-21st February 2021. You can find out more and book events here.

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