Social Dimensions of Outer Space Network


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 2018, the Social Dimensions of Outer Space (SDOS) network delivered its inaugural project, an interdisciplinary exploration of “Scotland in Space”, led by Deborah Scott 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 comissioned short stories and accompanying essays exploring their scientific, social, political, literary, and cultural aspects.

Copies of the book are available:

The Scotland in Space Project was 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.

Upcoming Events

EXHIBITION: Piazzi Smyth at Calton Hill

1 Apr 2019 10.00am – 30 Sep 2019 5.00pm

Nelson Column, 32 Calton Hill, Edinburgh, EH7 5AA

Festival Launch at Event Horizon

11 Apr 2019 8.00pm – 9.30pm

The Cabaret Bar, Pleasance, Edinburgh

SEMINAR: Envisioning Space Exploration: Scotland in Space and the Literary Imagination

23 May 2019 6.00pm – 9.00pm

Project Room, 50 George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9JU

TOUR: Calton Hill Observatory

8 Jun 2019 2.00pm – 3.00pm

City Observatory (Collective), Calton Hill

WORKSHOP: Out of the Cradle: Inclusive Systems in Outer Space

20 Jun 2019 9.00am – 8.30pm

Royal Observatory Edinburgh

SEMINAR: Visions of an Inclusive Outer Space: Systems and Architectures

20 Jun 2019 6.00pm – 9.00pm

Lecture Theatre, Royal Observatory Edinburgh, Blackford Hill, Edinburgh, EH9 3HJ

TOUR: Curious Edinburgh Astronomy Tour

22 Jun 2019 12.30pm – 2.00pm

In front of Camera Obscura / Castle Esplanade

CONFERENCE: SpaceUp Glasgow

6 Jul 2019 9.00am – 5.00pm

Glasgow Caledonian University, Cowcaddens Road, Glasgow, G4 0BA

BOOK LAUNCH: Escape from Earth: A Secret History of the Space Rocket

10 Jul 2019 6.30pm – 8.00pm

Blackwell's Bookshop Edinburgh, 53 - 62 South Bridge, Edinburgh, EH1 1YS

SEMINAR: Re(En)Visioning Space Exploration: From the Moon Landing to Further Afield

19 Jul 2019 6.00pm – 9.00pm

Bayes Centre Seminar Room (G.03), 47 Potterrow, Edinburgh EH8 9BT

EXHIBITION: From Scotland to Outer Space

19 Jul 2019 8.00pm – 23 Aug 2019 5.00pm

Bayes Centre, 47 Potterrow, Edinburgh, EH8 9BT

FRINGE EVENT: Scotland – Final Frontier?

7 Aug 2019 1.30pm – 2.30pm

The Stand’s New Town Theatre, Freemasons' Hall, EH2 3DH

FRINGE EVENT: Space Exploration – Should We Fund our NHS Instead!?

17 Aug 2019 7.20am – 8.20pm

The Banshee Labyrinth, 29-35 Niddry St, Edinburgh EH1 1LG, UK

CONFERENCE: Piazzi Smyth 200th Anniversary Symposium

2 Sep 2019 9.00am – 4 Sep 2019 5.00am

Royal Society Edinburgh, 22-26 George Street, EH2 2PQ Edinburgh

Contact SDOS

If you would like to join the SDOS network, please, e-mail Matjaz Vidmar with a couple of sentences about your interests in this field, link to any profile page (for web listing) and a contact e-mail.

The SDOS Network is funded by

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With support form

Our media partners are

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Our network is hosted at

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