press release
Published: 02 November 2023

Festival of Social Sciences: AI and mental health, the power of memes, and much more

What role will artificial intelligence play within the mental health sector? Does society get too angry about political memes? These are some of the interesting questions being debated at this year's Festival of Social Science at the University of Surrey.  

The ongoing programme of free events, which finishes on 17 November, is a celebration of diverse points of view on our world as it is today and how those views could shape the future.  

The Festival of Social Sciences is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. 

Professor Rachel Brooks, Professor of Sociology and Associate Dean, Research and Innovation at the University of Surrey said: 

"The social sciences play a pivotal role in understanding and shaping our world – from major global events like Brexit and the pandemic to everyday experiences in our communities and personal lives.  

"The Festival of Social Science allows us to bridge the gap between researchers and the wider public, facilitating a greater understanding of the world we live in."  

The Festival is an opportunity for individuals to engage with various social science topics, including health, wellbeing, crime, equality, education, and identity. With over 200 events taking place across the UK, delivered by 42 universities, there are options for everyone, from talks and performances to exhibitions, participatory events, and panel debates. 

Making Memes: Political Participation and Protest in the Digital Age – 1 November 

Social media is often described as an environment that fosters abuse and encourages trolls, particularly in the context of political debate. But it also offers a space to connect and discuss. This event aims to spark conversation about the ways in which we express ourselves politically on social media and will give participants the opportunity to reflect on digital media and their potential for political participation and protest. Participants will use a meme generator to create political and protest memes and share them on a digital whiteboard. These will then be discussed together at the end of the session, and the best meme will win a prize. 

Dyspraxia Awareness Day – 11 November

Dyspraxia or Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) affects motor skills over the lifespan. Dyspraxia affects approximately 5% of the population, yet it is commonly misunderstood and under recognised in educational, medical and work settings. At this event, you’ll be able to meet and exchange ideas with the University of Surrey researchers, take part in live polls and see the results change in real time. You’ll also be able to explore current research and share lived experiences of dyspraxia during interactive talks.  

What kind of therapist could AI be? – 17 November 

An informal and interactive workshop that will shape a conversation on the future of AI and mental health. The School of Sociology will be exploring the technologies for mental health and will allow participants and researchers to reach a clearer understanding of what an acceptable use of AI to support mental health might look like. 

The University of Surrey’s ESRC Impact Acceleration Account is delighted to showcase a wide variety of social science events throughout the duration of the festival. For more information on the 2023 Festival of Social Science and a full list of Surrey events, please visit: Festival of Social Science 



Notes to editors   



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