Accessibility statement

You're viewing an archived page from a previous Festival of Ideas. See this year's festival »

Festival showcases University of York research

Join us at York Festival of Ideas as we showcase some of the innovative research that University of York researchers are leading on. This incredible work is contributing to solving some of the world’s most intractable problems, as well as helping us to understand the world we live in. One of the world’s premier institutions for inspirational and life-changing research, the University’s work is focused around seven research themes. These align York’s academic strengths to best meet the grand scientific, social and environmental challenges of our time.

From spearheading research, training and standards in the safety of robotics and autonomous systems, to developing games to help understand how to better preserve our memory, come along and find out about the life-changing research being carried out at the University of York. All our Festival events present research in an accessible and engaging way.


Listening to the Commons: 200 years of women in Parliament Did you know women had a ‘presence’ in Parliament before 1918? On the centenary of the first women gaining the vote, find out how researchers at the University of York are bringing political history to life with acoustic technology and virtual reality. Learn how the Listening to the Commons project is recovering the soundscape of debate experienced by women gathering around a ventilator in the House of Commons ceiling c.1800 to 1834. Wednesday 6 June

York’s Dark Past: Crime, punishment and justice Find out about the York Crime Walk project, a collaboration between the University of York, York Castle Museum and the York Archaeological Trust. Prepare to immerse yourself in an intriguing aspect of the city’s history and discover surprising new stories about familiar buildings and landmarks. Saturday 9 June

Culture and communication

Frankenstein at 200: The science of the novel Celebrating the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Mary Fairclough of the University of York discusses the science of the novel. Learn how this relates to early 19th-century studies in medicine, chemistry and electricity, and how Shelley’s presentation of the animation of the creature anticipates more recent developments in medical ethics. Thursday 7 June

Laurence Sterne: A sentimental picture This year marks the 250th anniversary of the death of novelist Laurence Sterne and of the publication of his last book, A Sentimental Journey. Join speakers and performers, including Jon Mee of the University of York’s Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies, as they illuminate the life of Sterne. Friday 8 June

Environmental sustainability and resilience

Imagining a World without Food Waste How can we move from our ‘throwaway society’ to a world without food waste? Our expert panel from industry, policy, academia and non-governmental organisations will discuss the challenges and opportunities of preventing food waste across the food supply chain from farm to fork. Tuesday 12 June

Behind the Scenes of Science: Wolfson Atmospheric Chemistry Laboratories Take a look at the largest and best-equipped laboratories of their kind in the UK - the Wolfson Atmospheric Chemistry Laboratories. Join York scientists to find out about research into atmospheric composition, including air quality, ozone, marine and lab studies. Wednesday 6, Friday 8 and Wednesday 13 June

Health and wellbeing

Discovery Zone: York Memory Games Have a go at new smartphone memory games and contribute to scientific research. Join researchers from the University of York’s Department of Psychology and find out about the York Memory Games (YORMEGA) project which aims to understand what limits our memory and how we might do better at preserving it. By playing the games, you’ll be able to help with this research. Friday 1 and Saturday 2 June

Behind the Scenes of Science: Jack Birch Unit, Biology Sponsored by York Against Cancer, the Jack Birch Unit studies epithelial tissues, which give rise to more than 80 per cent of all adult human cancers. The Unit’s main focus is on bladder cancer which develops from the urothelium, the specialised lining of the bladder wall. Join us for a tour and talk and learn more. Friday 15 June

Justice and equality

Achieving Peace in the Middle East More than 20 years on from the Oslo Accords, we bring together world-class speakers from across the globe to discuss how peace can be achieved in the Middle East. Our Focus Day Is presented in collaboration with The Morrell Centre for Toleration, based at the University of York, and includes a number of expert speakers from York. Saturday 9 June

Creating Inclusive Economies Why in the 21st century do we have a more unequal society than ever before? Our Focus Day explores the relationship between economic and political decision-making and the impact of those decisions on the most vulnerable in our society. Presented in collaboration with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, expert speakers include Kate Pickett, author of The Inner Level, sequel to the acclaimed The Spirit Level, and Chris Renwick, author of Bread for All: The Origins of the Welfare State (Allen Lane, 2017), both of the University of York. Friday 15 June

Risk, evidence and decision making

Artificial Intelligence: Promises and Perils Find out more about AI and what we should and shouldn’t be worried about. What might AI mean for our future health, employment and everyday life? Join us for a special Focus Day brought to you in collaboration with the Assuring Autonomy International Programme, a £12 million initiative funded by Lloyd’s Register Foundation and the University of York to spearhead research, training and standards in the safety of robotics and autonomous systems (RAS). Saturday 16 June

Behind the Scenes of Science: Centre for Immunology and Infection Go behind the scenes of the CII, a joint research centre created by the Hull York Medical School and the University of York’s Department of Biology. Its aim is to integrate the study of basic and clinical immunology, microbiology and parasitology to develop a greater understanding of disease pathogenesis and through this, to develop new approaches to prevention and treatment. Tuesday 5, Thursday 7 and Friday 8 June

Technologies for the future

Behind the Scenes of the Science: The Biorenewables Development Centre (BDC) Take a look behind the scenes of  the BDC – an open-access research and development centre working at the interface between academia and industry to develop, scale-up and help commercialise bio-based products and processes. Learn about exciting ideas such as using potato starch to make batteries for electric vehicles, turning bread waste into pharmaceuticals and transforming household waste into biofuels. Tuesday 12 and Thursday 14 June

The Shape of Things to Come? Life in the quantum age Join Tim Spiller of the University of York and other experts on quantum technologies as they offer a glimpse of the tangible applications that will transform our everyday life in the future - from cameras that see around corners and through solid walls (and inside the human body) to supercomputers that can develop and test new drugs outside the lab. Monday 11 June

Explore the University of York’s research themes

Other events featuring York researchers or students, or brought to you by University of York staff, include:

The Art of Activism Tuesday 5 to Sunday 10 June

Behind the Scenes of Science: The Biology Teaching Laboratories Wednesday 6 and Thursday 7 June

Romeo and Juliet and Vampires: Supernatural Shakespeare in young adult novels and films Wednesday 6 June

Eleanor Catton in Conversation Wednesday 6 June

Travels in Time, Fiction and Physics Wednesday 6 June

The Qur’ans of Uljaytu Wednesday 6 June

Frankenstein: A night at the movies Wednesday 6 June

Liquid Traces: The left-to-die boat case Wednesday 6, Sunday 10 and Wednesday 13 June

Language Change as Competition Wednesday 6 June

Behind the Scenes of Science: The York Plasma Institute and Laboratories Wednesday 6 and Wednesday 13 June

Singing for Health Thursday 7 June

Necromancers, Scientists and Angry Bulls Thursday 7 June

Fish ‘n’ Ships: Fishing through time Friday 8 and Saturday 9 June

Prison Terminal: Dying in prison Friday 8 June

York Law School 10-year Anniversary Moot Friday 8 June

How Science Made the Victorian Future Friday 8 June

The Mughal Queen Nur Jahan as a Patron of the Arts Friday 8 June

The Chimera Ensemble Friday 8 June

The Historic Yorkshire Word Hunt Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 June

Seebohm Rowntree Re-considered Saturday 9 June

Soapbox Science Saturday 9 June

Festival Fringe Family Fun Afternoon Saturday 9 June

Re-imagining the Sacred Saturday 9 June

Coins: Exploring the unexpected Saturday 9 June

Art, Activism and the Political Imagination Saturday 9 June

Witchcraft and Wizardry Sunday 10 June

Zombies in York Monday 11 and Tues 12 June

Representations of the Body: The Female Nude in Egyptian Modern Art 1939–1963 Monday 11 June

Imagining Sustainable Electronics Monday 11 June

The Afterlives of Medieval Kings Monday 11 June

In the Shadow of the Moon: A rehearsed sharing Monday 11 June

Tomorrow’s Leaders: Imagining our future Tuesday 12 June

Behind the Scenes of Science: The York JEOL Nanocentre Tuesday 12 and Thursday 14 June

A World without Violence against Women Tuesday 12 June

Imagine If… Tuesday 12 June

Imagining Ancient Egypt Tuesday 12 June

Edvard Munch: The brighter years Tuesday 12 June

Behind the Scenes of Science: The York Structural Biology Laboratory Tuesday 12 June

Sherlock Holmes Investigates the Impossible Tuesday 12 June

The Business of World Cup Football Tuesday 12 June

Organising British Crime: James Morton in conversation with Mark Roodhouse Tuesday 12 June

Re-staging Greek Tragedy Today Tuesday 12 June

Imagining Justice: Criminological fiction Wednesday 13 June

What Works for Women at Work: Four patterns working women need to know Wednesday 13 June

The Tower of Babel Revisited Wednesday 13 June

Exploring the Limits of the Possible Wednesday 13 June

Space. Planets. Stars. Wednesday 13 to Saturday 16 June

Beer and Beowulf: Fantastic poetry Wednesday 13 June

Behind the Scenes of Science: The Clinical Simulation Unit Thursday 14 June

Immigrants: An English controversy, 1250-1500 Thursday 14 June

Facing the Impossible in Physics Thursday 14 June

Ivan Bilibin: Visualising fairy tales Thursday 14 June

Puzzles in the Pub Thursday 14 June

Imprisoned, Erased, Repressed, Innovative: Hidden stories of LGBT+ scientists Thursday 14 June

Foundations of House Friday 15 June

The Beatles at 50: Lyric Secrets of the Beatles’ White Album Friday 15 June

A Taste of Ancient Sicily: Food, farming and family life Saturday 16 June

LUMA Film Festival Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 June

Psych!York: Interactive family fun Saturday 16 June

Talking Portraits! Saturday 16 June

Thinking: Destination Unknown… Saturday 16 June

Medic! A sense of First World War battlefield medicine Saturday 16 June

Bearing Arms, and Heads and Bodies: Stretcher bearers in the First World War Saturday 16 June

Space: The final frontier? Sunday 17 June

Eoforwic: Celebrating Anglo-Saxon York Sunday 17 June

Britten: War Requiem Wednesday 20 June

Refuse/Refuge Friday 20 July to Sunday 16 September