British Science Week 2024

  • British Science Week is organised by the British Science Association (BSA) to inspire and involve the public in the world of science.
  • The BSA use the broadest definition of science to include technology, engineering, maths, social sciences, and economics.
  • This year marks the 30th anniversary of British Science Week.

British Science Week is a ten-day celebration held in March every year, to honour all things science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM). This week aims to engage people from all walks of life: whether it’s encouraging participation in STEM education; bridging the gap between the public and scientific communities; or highlighting how science can help address global challenges. At Research Features, we strive to break barriers and make current, innovative research accessible to all, to further engagement and exploration of the sciences. This year the theme is ‘time’ – an opportunity to recognise and celebrate advances in science since British Science Week began in 1994, as well as looking to the future.

To celebrate British Science Week, we have collated some of our favourite articles showcasing exciting research about time and the importance of using our time effectively to achieve a more sustainable future.

It’s about time! Addressing social and environmental degradation

In our article based on the research of Filipe Duarte Santos, Professor of Physics and Environmental Sciences at the University of Lisbon, we explore the idea of ‘social time’. Our relationship with time has evolved along with the technological advancements that have driven cultural, social, economic, and political change.

Today, despite time remaining as unconquerable as ever, we often feel the need to fill every moment completely. Simultaneously, ‘future time’ is becoming increasingly uncertain with the growing need for sustainable solutions to political, economic, and environmental challenges. Read our article to find out how Santos believes we can overcome the challenges of our modern world.

Future generations will suffer from our ‘now’ focus, and solidarity between generations is increasingly becoming an ethical and moral issue.

graphic showing time and money

Exploring interdependencies and synergies to meet Sustainable Development Goal 11

The UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set out to solve today’s most pressing challenges, with each focusing on a different area. Some of the 17 goals prioritise ending hunger and poverty and delivering clean, affordable energy to all by 2030. Most of these ambitions are not on track to be achieved, however.

Associate Professor Esther Obonyo at the College of Engineering at Penn State University, USA, provides a novel framework to deal with sustainability issues, promoting cross-sector and transdisciplinary collaboration to solve environmental problems before it is too late. Check out our article to find out how Obonyo proposes SDG 11 – making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable – can be met.

Through her research, Associate Professor Esther Obonyo at Penn State University, USA aims to provide transdisciplinary frameworks for effective and synergistic sustainable developments to help policymakers meet SDG 11 - providing safe and sustainable housing.

The future of agricultural sustainability: Dairy leftovers as crop biostimulants

Delve into our article about the future of agricultural sustainability, based on work by Dr Francesco Vuolo. Starting from the time of hunter-gatherer lifestyles, humans have evolved and adopted a more settled existence that depends on reliable sources of food. As such agricultural practices have undergone significant changes. Today, however, there is an urgent push towards sustainable agriculture as decades of excessive synthetic fertiliser use has weakened the soil and polluted water bodies.

Our article explores Vuolo’s pioneering concept of using lactic acid bacteria byproducts from the dairy industry to create an organic biostimulant. Vuolo’s sustainable approach aligns with the EU Green Deal which will change agricultural methods for a cleaner and greener future.

By making use of dairy fermentation leftovers, we can create ecologically friendly biostimulants, and work towards a circular, green economy.

Human Systems Integration, it’s time to take centre stage

We now look to the future as we progress into a new age: Society 5.0. The term ‘Society 5.0’ refers to a highly connected, knowledge-based society that leverages emerging technologies to tackle social challenges and global issues. This period is not far off; we could even argue that we already have one foot in the door.

Dr Guy André Boy of Paris Saclay University and ESTIA Institute of Technology, France, is a leading figure in the field of Human Systems Integration (HSI) which Boy argues is vital to the development of Society 5.0. Read our article to find out how HSI is finding its place in shaping our everyday lives.

To some degree, it could be argued that HSI has been waiting in the wings and that now is its time to step into the spotlight.

As technology advances and takes the wheel, how do we transition to Society 5.0? Human Systems Integration helps navigate this complex field.

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