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    UCL Events blog

    By Nick Dawe, on 6 May 2011

    Reviews of UCL public lectures, debates, exhibitions, shows, and more…

    UCL Faces Race: Why is my curriculum white?

    By Kilian Thayaparan, on 21 November 2014

    Greek philosophy headsHaving heard interesting things about the ‘Why isn’t my professor black?’ live panel discussion that took place earlier this year, I was intrigued to find out what new points and suggestions would be put forward by the Black & Minority Ethnic (BME) Students’ Network, this time as they attempted to answer the question: ‘Why is my curriculum white?’.

    In doing so, the aim was to begin to address a worrying finding from the NUS Black Students Campaign National Students Survey, which showed that “42% did not believe their curriculum reflected issues of diversity, equality and discrimination”.

    Standing before an energetic and enthusiastic mixed crowd, the first speaker introduced the audience to UCL, highlighting its self-given status as “London’s global university”.

    However, drawing attention to the fact that in its earlier years UCL was known as “London’s imperial university”, she argued that we haven’t moved from “imperial” to “global”, and that to achieve this, we need to examine and challenge the “Eurocentric nature” and “whiteness” of the curriculum.

    To illustrate this, the audience was shown a short film that explored some of the thoughts, experiences and suggestions of students concerning race and their studies. There were some quite worrying and often shocking recollections throughout.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Sexual Health: Intersections in politics and society

    By Guest Blogger, on 18 November 2014

    pencil-icon Written by Michael Espinoza, PhD candidate, UCL Institute of the Americas

    HIV virology testing form“By then, it was too late to hate him [for being gay].” – a self-described ‘former gay-basher’ reveals how he unknowingly befriended a gay man.

    This testimonial, part of a research project by Dr Richard Mole (UCL School of Slavonic Studies and Eastern European Studies), shows how a lack of human understanding can dictate how people relate to others whom they perceive as ‘different’. The difference in this instance involved sexuality and its relation to sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

    The first presenter was Professor Jonathan Bell (UCL Institute of the Americas), whose paper was titled The Economic Closet: healthcare, sexuality, and the politics of respectability during the AIDS crisis.

    Professor Bell discussed how healthcare politics in the 1980s saw gay rights leaders face two difficulties – one was the struggle against private health insurance companies and the other was the attempt to “adapt the socially-regressive and gendered New Deal safety net to their needs”.

    Not only did they have to accept that HIV positive gay men “had to be classified as disabled and unable to work to be entitled to welfare”, they also had to fight against profit-driven private health insurance companies who sought to portray HIV positive gay men as unproductive citizens who have “sexually promiscuous lifestyles” in order to deny their claims.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Violence, the State and Civil Society in Mexico

    By Guest Blogger, on 14 November 2014

    pencil-icon Written by Anna Tyor, International Relations MSc

    Javier Trevino-Rangel, a professor at the Centre for Research and Teaching in Economics in Mexico City, went from city to city in Mexico interviewing middle class residents about violence in their communities and heard the same responses over and over again, all over the country: “The media blows things out of proportion”; “We need more reliable information”; and “I just skip this section in the newspaper”.

    As we shifted chairs to make room for a growing audience, five distinguished speakers anxiously looked around the room hoping to address these issues by explaining challenging topics in Mexico including drug trade, militarisation of the state, rural violence, social media and human rights.

    Following the disappearance of dozens of student teachers in the southern state of Guerrero, Mexico and the world cried out in protest after the discovery of mass shallow graves filled with their singed bodies. This poignant talk convened by the Radical Americas Network at the UCL Institute of the Americas came in light of these recent murders and attempted to shed light on who is to blame for such atrocities.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Danny Boyle’s Sunshine: the science behind the fiction

    By Ben Stevens, on 12 November 2014

    From Georges Méliès to Tarkovsky and Kubrick, the wonders of space have taken a special hold on the imaginations of some of the world’s most visionary film directors.

    UCL’s very own Christopher Nolan (UCL English, 1991) is the latest to offer his response with the hugely anticipated Interstellar, which opened on Friday.


    Before him, Danny Boyle gave us his own epic vision in Sunshine (2007) – which was shown at a special screening organised by the UCL Public and Cultural Engagement (PACE) team at the Stratford Picturehouse in east London on 28 October.

    The film, starring Cillian Murphy, follows the crew of the Icarus II as they attempt to reignite our dying Sun with a specially designed nuclear weapon that must be delivered directly into its core, if life on Earth is to survive.

    Before the screening, visitors had the chance to view the space-themed objects from UCL’s museum collections, including a meteorite, part of a crashed satellite and some historical NASA images of space. Read the rest of this entry »