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Families will be able to discover more about the oceans, military history and how the pandemic has inspired new poetry as part of a free festival taking place this month.

Futures2021 returns to the South West on September 24 and 25 with a range of in-person and online events featuring world-leading academics from the University of Plymouth.

It will include talks and discussions at city venues, workshops and events for people of all ages and a quiz for families to pit their wits against researchers from across the region.

Futures2021 is a collaboration between Universities of Plymouth, Bath, Bristol, Exeter, and Bath Spa University held as part of European Researchers Night.

This Europe-wide event, funded by the European Commission, aims to bring research to life and to promote careers in research to young people and their families.

Grace Williams, Public Engagement Manager at the University of Plymouth, said:

“Futures2021 offers an exciting way to engage with communities across Plymouth. It is an opportunity for families to listen to – and ask questions of – some of our world-leading experts in fields including marine science and virtual reality, history and health. We hope it will not only encourage people to think about how they are living their lives today, but also inspire future generations to understand what it means to be a researcher and see that they can follow in our researchers’ footsteps.”

The FUTURES2021 events involving academics from the University of Plymouth include:

  • Friday 24 September: Pandemic Poetry (Bread and Roses) – Professor Anthony Caleshu talks about how poetry provided inspiration and solace, and a way for people around the world to interact during periods of lockdown;
  • Friday 24 September: Lost Childhoods: The Cultural History of Separation (Online) – Professor James Daybell explores periods in history where children have found themselves separated from families through the choices of others and how that has affected individuals and cultures;

  • Saturday 25 September: Stories of change and naval history (online) – maritime historians take you through moments in time of significance to the Royal Navy, including the British Civil Wars, the First World War and the internationalisation in the United States Navy;
  • Saturday 25 September: Seas the Day (National Marine Aquarium) – world-leading experts from University of Plymouth’s Marine Institute will explore one of the global challenges facing our planet – how to protect our seas – through a range of talks and family activities;
  • Saturday 25 September: Voyage of Discovery (The Market Hall, Devonport) – historians, scientists, environmentalists and health academics will be running interactive activities, experiments, talks and demonstrations in the Market Hall’s new immersive dome.

Futures2021 will conclude with The Big Family Quiz on Saturday 25 September, featuring rounds on science, history, geography and more, all inspired by some of the region’s most exciting research. It all takes place online which means families can join the fun wherever you are.

Dr Joel Morley, Futures2021 project manager at the University of Bristol said:

“Futures2021 brings research to life not just in Plymouth and the South West, but across Europe as part of the wider event funded by the European Commission. Here in the South West we are a hub for outstanding research and innovation and we are excited that we can bring this to Plymouth with our events, both in person and online. We want to show how research is making our daily lives better and encourage young people to consider a career in research.”

All the events are completely free but you will need tickets. You can find out more and get your tickets at

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