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UCL in the Middle East: crossing cultures

ucyow3c21 September 2016

pencil-iconWritten by Sophie Vinter, Global Engagement Communications Officer

“When we talk about the Middle East we’re talking about many places and very different contexts – what goes for Qatar is not the same as for a refugee camp in Syria.”

The panel of the inaugural ‘UCL in the Middle East’ event nodded in agreement at the words of Dr Seth Anziska (UCL Hebrew and Jewish Studies), who was joining in a lively discussion by Skype from the USA.

Jonathan Dale (right) talks with attendees at UCL in the Middle East

Jonathan Dale (right) talks with attendees at UCL in the Middle East

Focusing on a range of contemporary issues – ranging from urban development and cultural heritage to healthcare and education – ‘UCL in the Middle East’ was the second regional-specific event that had been organised by Professor Ijeoma Uchegbu, Pro-Vice-Provost (Africa & the Middle East) and the Global Engagement Office. The first event, Knowledge Africa, took place in June.

Open to academics and professional services staff from around the university, these events have offered the opportunity to hear from a range of speakers, network and take part in panel discussions to share ideas and learn more about UCL’s collaborations in a specific area of the world.

Questions from the audience encouraged thought-provoking debate on some hot topics in the Middle East, including the balance of encouraging entrepreneurship while also allowing for intellectual property ownership and the idea of post-conflict ‘interventionism’.

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Risk and resilience in Japan after the Fukushima disaster

Oli Usher22 November 2013

Fukushima Daiichi reactor 2. Credit: TEPCO

Fukushima Daiichi reactor 2. Credit: TEPCO

There is no amount of concrete that could have kept people safe from the 2011 Japanese tsunami – and in any case, the height of the wave could never have been predicted. But learning the right lessons from past disasters, along with a helping hand from technology, could help keep us safer in the future.

That was the message delivered by Prof Peter Sammonds (UCL Institute of Risk & Disaster Reduction) in Tuesday’s Lunch Hour Lecture.

Japan is, in many ways, an ideal place to learn from in the field of natural disasters. A prosperous, well-governed and highly educated nation, it also has a long history of dealing with natural hazards, particularly earthquakes and tsunamis. The successes and failures of disaster management in Japan over the past century offer a rich vein of data for researchers like him to mine.

The key lesson, he argued, is to understand the complexity of disasters and how one calamitous event can cascade in fundamentally unpredictable ways.

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Gender and disasters: what causes the risk gap?

news editor15 March 2013

pencil-iconWritten by Dr Joanna P Faure Walker, UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction.

Miyagi Prefecture, Japan, following 2011 earthquake courtesy of Tex Texin on Flickr

Miyagi Prefecture, Japan, following the 2011 earthquake
(courtesy of Tex Texin on Flickr)

On Friday 8 March 2013, the UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction hosted an open panel discussion on ‘Gender and Disasters’.

The panel was chaired by Dr Ellie Lee (Reader in Social Policy and expert in gender issues from the University of Kent), and comprised: Paula Albrito (Head of the Regional Office for Europe for the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction), David Alexander (Professor in Risk and Disaster Reduction, IRDR UCL), and Linda O’Halloran (Director of NGO Thinking Development).

The three panellists provided examples of various natural disasters in which women showed a greater risk to the event than men either through active discrimination or through pre-existing factors.

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Dickens’s London, what’s changed since the 19th century?

Katherine Aitchison20 March 2012

This year marks 200 years since the birth of Charles Dickens. So, in the time since he was writing, how much has London really changed?

This was the topic up for discussion at a panel debate hosted by the UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction  on 15 March.

The panel consisted of UCL Quain Professor of English, Rosemary Ashton; UCL Emeritus Professor of Climate Modelling, Julian Hunt and Professor Jerry White (Birkbeck) who has written a number of books describing London through the ages. Each of the panel had their own take on Dickens’s work and how it relates to the changing face of London in the years since his birth.

Professor Ashton kicked off the evening by discussing the London of the 19th century and the relationship between Dickens and Edwin Chadwick (a social reformer who placed huge emphasis on the importance of public health). As far as public health goes, it is clear that London has changed substantially since Dickens was writing; although the poverty he was so concerned about is still visible in some areas, the days of multiple families crowding into one room are long gone.

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