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2015 UCL and the Wellcome Trust Science Policy Question Time

ucyow3c2 November 2015

pencil-iconWritten by Mr Greg Tinker and Dr Olivia Stevenson (OVPR)

pp1Five things we learned about the pressures on science in the UK

In advance of the 2015 Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR), an event organised by UCL and the Wellcome Trust, in the style of the BBC’s ever-popular Question Time series, sought to answer some of the most pressing questions facing the science community today.

Graeme Reid, Professor of Science and Research Policy at UCL, stepped into David Dimbleby’s shoes, putting questions from a lively audience of more than 100 people to an expert panel.

The panel included representatives from academia, funding bodies and the media and Professor Reid described their contributions as “brave, quick-thinking and well informed”. But what did we learn from their lively exploration of key science policy issues?

The science community wants to stay in the EU, but can they persuade the public?

Unpp2like the BBC’s Question Time, there was broad consensus among the panel and the audience that Britain’s membership of the EU is vital: for science research; for the growth of knowledge through EU students at UK universities and through world-leading research collaborations and partnerships. But panellist Alun Evans, Chief Executive of the British Academy, sounded a note of caution, suggesting that this debate, like the 2014 Scottish Referendum, won’t be fought on details, such as science funding. While this is “regrettable”, scientists “need to come up with arguments that make a difference to public opinion”.

Universities, or at least their Vice-Chancellors and Provosts, are likely to campaign to remain in the EU ahead of the 2017 referendum. But panel member Adam Smith, Assistant Communities Editor at the Economist, noted that, as institutions seek to fulfil their role as places of debate, will those outside universities accept that they need to be neutral spaces where all arguments can be heard?

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UCL President & Provost’s Lunch Hour Lecture

Kilian Thayaparan19 October 2015

UCL President & Provost Michael Arthur speaks at the inaugural 2015-16 Lunch Hour Lecture

UCL President & Provost Michael Arthur speaks at the
inaugural 2015-16 Lunch Hour Lecture

A diverse audience filled the Darwin Lecture Theatre last Tuesday (13 October) for the first Lunch Hour Lecture of the season, given by UCL President & Provost Professor Michael Arthur – as has become tradition for the opening lecture every other year.

Including staff, students and members of the general public, the audience were in attendance to hear more about the university’s recent accomplishments, its challenges and what lies ahead.

Professor Arthur began with a frank summary of his time at UCL, so far, stating: “I’ve been at UCL for two years now, and this place can throw up its challenges.” And for a university with so much reputation and history, he emphasised how important its values are to its success, adding that UCL’s current values, although a “bedrock”, are being revisited to adapt to the new challenges that it faces.

He also touched upon what it’s been like to take over from the previous UCL President & Provost Professor Malcolm Grant, explaining: “I’ve been told that there’s a difference between my style and Malcolm’s – I’ve been told that mine is more ‘managerial’, which I take as a compliment.”

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DPU SummerLAB: Common Grounds, Mostar

ucyow3c29 September 2015

pencil-icon Written by Hannah Sender, Projects and Communications Officer at UCL Institute for Global Prosperity

The UCL Development Planning Unit’s SummerLAB aims to bring together a group of people from diverse disciplinary backgrounds to work on a single project over a week, confronting major challenges facing contemporary urban life in four different settings. This is no simple task. Having recently returned from the Mostar-based SummerLAB – Common Grounds – I can attest to the numerous struggles and successes of some 20 participants faced with the challenge of creating a common ground in the still divided city of Mostar.

Although several of our group were former DPU students, the SummerLAB also had in its cohort a theatre producer, an established architect and a forestry student.

Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina (credit: Renata Summa)

Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina (credit: Renata Summa)

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Volunteering and networking at the i-Rec 2015 conference

ucyow3c22 July 2015

pencil-iconWritten by Jacopo Spatafora, MSc student at the UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction

i-Rec 2015 conference

i-Rec 2015 conference
(Image courtesy of Jacopo Spatafora)

It’s the beginning of July. While writing my thesis, I receive a forwarded e-mail from my friend, Helen: “Might be of interest – i-Rec 2015, held at UCL from 6 to 8 July. Volunteers needed for organising event.”

Wondering if sacrificing three valuable study days for an event was sensible or insane, I signed up…

i-Rec is an international conference, taking place every two years since 2002. It is a meeting point for practitioners and academics specialising in post-disaster recovery and reconstruction.

A multifaceted event

The UCL Bartlett Development Planning Unit, with global expertise in disaster-related practices, joined i-Rec 2015 to help share its research, comparing ideas based on past findings and future trends.

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