In Autumn 2017, Social Dimensions of Outer Space (SDOS) network was formed by academics across the University of Edinburgh, based on a pathway “Space Cluster” project at the Science, Technology and Innovation Studies group in 2016-17. The network brings together natural and social scientists, as well as academics and practitioners across a variety of humanities and arts disciplines.
In the past years, its membership has expanded across several Scottish higher education institutions and other organisations. The network is also developing a series of larger projects, such as the Scotland in Space collaborative publication and the Space Enlightenment Festival.
The forming of the Social Dimensions of Outer Space network was supported by the University of Edinburgh’s Institute for Academic Development Action Grant.
Scotland in Space
In Summer-Autumn 2018, the Social Dimensions of Outer Space (SDOS) network delivered its inaugural project, an interdisciplinary exploration of “Scotland in Space”, led by Deborah Scott, Lawrence Dritsas and Simon Malpas. This initiative brought together science-fiction authors, researchers in Astrobiology, Astrophysics, Social Sciences and the Humanities, and staff from public bodies such as the National Museum of Scotland and the Royal Observatory of Edinburgh.
In a series of dialogues, the participants examined Scotland's potential as a site of space-focused innovation, research and imagination. The resulting manuscript includes three short stories and accompanying essays exploring their scientific, social, political, literary, and cultural aspects. The resulting publication, published through project’s partner, Scotland’s premier science fiction magazine, Shoreline of Infinity, will be launched as part of the Space Enlightenment Festival in Spring-Summer 2019.
The Scotland in Space Project is financially supported by the University of Edinburgh’s Edinburgh Futures Institute.
Space Enlightenment Festival 2019
Connecting people and cultures at the frontiers of Outer Space exploration
The Social Dimension of Outer Space (SDOS) network is coordinating the Space Enlightenment Festival (SEF) in Spring-Summer 2019, highlighting the vital contribution of humanities and social science to framing the future of Scottish and global engagement with outer space, through both emerging technologies here on Earth and the expanding frontiers of space exploration and industry. This festival will coincide with several key anniversaries, for instance the 200th anniversary of the birth of most famous Edinburgh Astronomer Royal, Charles Piazzi Smyth, and the 50th anniversary of the first human landing on the Moon.
The festival’s timeline “launched” at the “Boldly Go!” Shoreline of Infinity’s Event Horizon, on 11 April, then have regular “comms link” at a monthly seminar to mark the journey’s progress, and will conclude with a “landing”, the conclusion of the seminar series and opening of the mini-exhibition on 19 July 2019. In total, we are planning to coordinate several dozens of activities, some delivered exclusively by the expanding membership of our network and others in partnership with external contributors, organisations and institutions/venues - all listed in the calendar below.
The Space Enlightenment Festival is financially supported by the University of Edinburgh and Edinburgh Napier University and is part of Festival of Creative Learning.
1 Apr 2019 10.00am – 30 Sep 2019 5.00pm
Nelson Column, 32 Calton Hill, Edinburgh, EH7 5AA
11 Apr 2019 8.00pm – 9.30pm
The Cabaret Bar, Pleasance, Edinburgh
23 May 2019 6.00pm – 9.00pm
Project Room, 50 George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9JU
8 Jun 2019 2.00pm – 3.00pm
City Observatory (Collective), Calton Hill
20 Jun 2019 6.00pm – 9.00pm
Lecture Theatre, Royal Observatory Edinburgh, Blackford Hill, Edinburgh, EH9 3HJ
22 Jun 2019 12.30pm – 2.00pm
In front of Camera Obscura / Castle Esplanade
6 Jul 2019 9.00am – 5.00pm
Glasgow Caledonian University, Cowcaddens Road, Glasgow, G4 0BA
19 Jul 2019 6.00pm – 9.00pm
Bayes Centre Seminar Room (G.03), 47 Potterrow, Edinburgh EH8 9BT
19 Jul 2019 8.00pm – 15 Oct 2019 5.00pm
Bayes Centre, 47 Potterrow, Edinburgh EH8 9BT (TBC)
2 Sep 2019 9.00am – 4 Sep 2019 5.00am
Royal Society Edinburgh, 22-26 George Street, EH2 2PQ Edinburgh