8 November 2023

More than 600 people attended the varied programme of events organised for the University’s Festival of Research between 1 and 7 November 2023.  

The theme of this year’s festival was The Pursuit of Peace and took its inspiration from the centenary of the Welsh Women’s Peace Petition 1923-24.  

Its seven-day programme featured a range of discussions, workshops, research exhibits and creative activities, with more than 20 events held in ten different locations on Penglais campus, the National Library of Wales and the town centre.  

One of the festival’s most popular events was the launch of a bilingual, multi-authored book – Yr Apêl / The Appeal (Y Lolfa) – telling the remarkable story of how 390,296 Welsh women signed a peace petition in 1923-24 calling on their American sisters to join their campaign for a world without war.  

More than 100 people gathered in the National Library for the launch of the book, co-edited by Professor Mererid Hopwood and Dr Jenny Mathers from the University and featuring chapters by seven different contributors.  

The launch followed the unveiling in Laura Place, Aberystwyth, of a Purple Plaque honouring Annie Hughes Griffiths, the woman who led the peace petition to the USA in 1924.  

During the Festival, a fundraising evening was organised by Aberaid to raise money for the refugee charity and for Ukraine Train as well as to support the Syrian Dinner Project. 

Held in St Paul’s Methodist Centre, the ‘Hope and Harmony’ event began with supper prepared by the Syrian Dinner Project followed by a concert featuring the University’s orchestra and poets Mererid Hopwood, Matthew Jarvis and Eurig Salisbury.  

The festival’s keynote speaker was Eileen Weir, a community worker from Belfast who spoke inspiringly about her experiences growing up as a teenager in Belfast during the Troubles and her subsequent community work with the Shankill Centre for Women – building bridges between political, religious and other divisions across the island of Ireland. 

Students organised a popular ‘Peace of Art’ event in the Students’ Union building on Penglais campus, showcasing music, poetry and artwork by students.  

Other thought-provoking discussions looked at creating pathways to peace in the 21st century; overcoming rural divisions to create peace in communities; and the links between Ceredigion, climate change and claiming peace, which brought local people together in dialogue at Ceredigion Museum. 

The University collaborated with a range of partners on the Festival’s activities, including the National Library, Ceredigion Museum, Academi Heddwch, Purple Plaques Wales and the Ceredigion Association of Voluntary Organisations.  

This was the first time the Festival of Research was co-ordinated by the Dialogue Centre and reflecting on the week’s events, Dr Jennifer Wolowic, the Centre’s Principal Lead, said:  

“Inspired by the Welsh Women’s Peace Petition and its strong links to Aberystwyth, we shaped our Pursuit of Peace programme around the individuals, groups, and ideas that have shaped peace-making in the past and used them to explore ways in which we can shape a peaceful future, bringing researchers into conversations with communities. I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to the festival’s success – our brilliant speakers, organisers, partners, technical and hospitality staff, and our wonderful audiences. Diolch yn fawr bawb.”