The following activity is a work-in-progress and currently on hold due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The description below reflects the aims of the project and its proposed framework. 

A day of events celebrating and investigating genetics on DNA day, the anniversary of the publication of Crick and Watson’s famous 1953 paper describing the Double Helix (Saturday 25 April 2020). The aim of the day is to think about science and culture more generally in the past, present, and the future. DNA day is celebrated around the world but to date there is no celebration in the UK.

Jerome de Groot ran an AHRC-funded project entitled ‘Double Helix History’ from 2017-2019. During this time he ran multiple events demonstrating a huge public interest in considering the relationship between genetic science and culture. The project ran 64 public events including lectures, focus groups, webinars, showcases and school talks; the public audience for these events was 1872 people with an extra 335 attending the school events. The events took place around Manchester, the North of England, and also internationally (in Japan, Australia, USA, Poland and Holland). The most successful occasion was a ‘Platform for Investigation’ showcase at the Science+Industry Museum, Manchester (January 2019), which had 712 attendees and included contributions from the Natural History Museum, Francis Crick Biomedical Institute, Manchester Museum, as well as the Universities of Manchester, Warwick, and Liverpool.

The current project seeks to capitalize on this public demand, to enhance existing partnerships with cultural organisations, and to further develop models for communicating research into the cultural impact of genetic science. ‘DNA Day’ seeks to embed SALC research into the relationship between science and culture within a major set of festival/ heritage events in Manchester. The events will focus on questions about the relationship between science and culture, with particular interest on the ways in which genetics seems to present a new version of Homo sapiens and of the human past.

Aims include:
Partnerships: This project will further develop partnerships with key cultural organisations and practitioners. It will create a sustainable network for running events in future years. Several of the partnerships already exist but this project develops them by creating new work and new opportunities for research conversations within non-HEI contexts.
Communities: It will enable local communities to engage with research from SALC. In particular the event at the Science+Industry museum in January 2019 involved 300 children, and we would get similar numbers for our event in 2020.
Research in SALC: This project arises from work undertaken by Jerome de Groot. The project enhances strengths in SALC around science communication and science in culture (work within History, EAC, ICP, Music).

Outcomes include: increased involvement with cultural institutions; audience engagement with SALC research through showcasing; impact through the creative workshop; template for future events and partnerships; increased engagement with communities; potential for future yearly ‘DNA Day’ activities; new ways for communicating SALC research including workshops, showcases, and social media; increased engagement between SALC and FLS in outreach activities; development of partnership work, collaboration models, and commissioning between SALC and key partners in Manchester including NHS/ health institutions; future funding bid to Wellcome Trust and AHRC.

Internal Partner(s): Matthew Stallard (RA on AHRC-funded ‘Double Helix History’ project 2018-19); Hawys Williams (Faculty of Life Sciences)

External Partner(s): Georgina Wells (Science+Industry Museum); Anna Bunney (Manchester Museum); Krystal Tsosie (Vanderbilt University); Emma Britain (FoH Widening Participation); HOME; Manchester Museum; Science+Industry Museum; Francis Crick Biomedical Institute; Manchester Central Library; Centre for New Writing; Irish World Heritage Centre; National Human Genome Research Centre, National Institute of Health (USA).

Funding source(s): SALC Social Responsibility Fund

Project duration: 2019-ongoing

Project lead(s): Jerome de Groot