Upcoming Events


Tech vs Trust

Thursday 1 July 2021

Glen Weyl, Reema Patel, Henry Farrell, Niccolò Tempini, Ritula Shah (chair)


In this lively online discussion, our speakers will take a deep dive in to the relationship between online technology and our data. We give away our data in exchange for so-called ‘free’ services, giving firms valuable information that underpins their business models. The data drives revenue, often used to help targetted adverts function or provide […]

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People Powered Research

Thursday 30 September 2021

Professor of Astrophysics Chris Lintott


From Astronomy to Zoology, scientists are struggling to make the best of the enormous datasets the digital revolution has brought. Rapid advances in machine learning have ushered in new opportunities, but Sky at Night presenter Chris Lintott will argue that there’s still a place for all of us to contribute. Bringing experience of more than […]

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Viruses that improve our health

Thursday 25 November 2021

Professor Martha Clokie


We think about viruses as harmful to us, but research by our speaker Martha Clokie shows that some can improve our health. These tiny viruses known as ‘phages’ do this by invading bacteria, multiplying, and bursting out, eventually destroying their host. When these are bacteria that attack our bodies, this could be beneficial—our enemy’s enemy […]

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Past Events


The Sounds of the Red Planet: Secrets of the Mars Rover

Thursday 6 May 2021

Dr Naomi Murdoch, Dr Stephen I. Thomson


Meet one of the scientists behind NASA’s latest Mars mission in this special live event. Dr Naomi Murdoch will introduce the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover, which is searching for signs of ancient life. Our speaker’s work has been on the famous SuperCam instrument, a laser mounted on the head of the rover that looks for […]

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Serious Games: learn by doing

Saturday 28 November 2020

Dr Mehdi Khoury


Discover how computer games are used by engineers to simulate and solve problems – and try them yourself. At the University of Exeter, a great tool has been developed to connect complex scientific information and explore the interactions between water, energy, land, and food resources management in the context of Climate Change. 3 P.M. – […]

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Who do we think you are? Online social identity detection

Saturday 28 November 2020


Are you a parent, an entrepreneur, a feminist, a libertarian, all of these, or none? By using machine learning, Dr Miriam Koschate will tell you from your writing style which group was influencing you while you were writing. You may be able to deceive the person next to you but our models will know who […]

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Talking about Mindfulness Therapy for Young People

Saturday 28 November 2020


Join Jerry Fox and Dr Kristin Liabo for mindfulness exercises and discussion. Jerry is from the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services; he has developed mindfulness therapy for young people and their carers. He’ll be chatting about how the success of the therapy was measured with data collected from groups in this project. He will […]

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Why is Climate Change so hard?

Friday 27 November 2020

Ritula Shah (chair), Professor Richard Betts MBE, Grace Blakeley, Professor Robert Pollin, Dr Kris de Meyer, Dr Catherine Butler


This lively online discussion looked at communicating science, the psychology behind our actions, and the politics of Climate Change. “The danger of global warming is as yet unseen, but real enough for us to make changes and sacrifices” Margaret Thatcher told the UN in 1989. Yet, in 2020 the predictions are unfolding with devastating wildfires, […]

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Lockdown Blues

Friday 27 November 2020

Fred Cooper


Do you have the lockdown blues? This hour-long online workshop is about connection and catharsis through shared creativity. Dr Fred Cooper from the Wellcome Centre will talk briefly about the Beacon project on loneliness, show you some things that other people have been making, drawing, writing (or singing!) during Covid-19, and lend you some inspiration […]

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How the Ancient Greeks Can Improve Your Health

Friday 27 November 2020

John Wilkins


The interactive session explores an ancient greek’s programme for healthy living. Written 1800 years ago, Galen’s medical system was the basis of Western and Islamic Medicine for 1600 years. Might Galen’s healthy living be useful for us in the 21st century? Join Professor John Wilkins to consider Galen’s advice on the environment, eating and drinking, […]

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Empire Strikes Back: Why Imperialism Matters

Thursday 22 October 2020

Dr Gajendra Singh


A recent YouGov poll found that nearly half of Brits are proud of their colonial past, while 43% think the British Empire was a “good thing”. Britain’s post-Brexit future was recently described in civil service documents as ‘Empire 2.0’, which was quickly met with criticism by some journalists in Africa and India. But how does […]

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A Conversation with Noam Chomsky

Friday 11 September 2020

Professor Noam Chomsky, Robert Lamb


Noam Chomsky spoke live from Tucson in this online event. He answered audience questions, particularly on the topic of Free Speech, but also on coronavirus, q’anon, and ‘cancel culture’. In July 2020, the linguist and philosopher put his name to the ‘Letter on Justice and Open Debate’, which was signed by 153 writers. The public […]

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Living With Emperors (online event)

Thursday 23 July 2020

Will Lawson, Professor Steve Simpson


Hear tales from the extraordinary career of a maker of David Attenborough’s Dynasties series. Will Lawson directed the ‘Emperor’ episode that followed penguins, and is assistant producer of the forthcoming Frozen Planet II. The event is presented by Professor Steve Simpson from the University of Exeter. He was an Academic Advisor and featured scientist in […]

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The Impact of COVID-19 on Developing Countries (Online Event)

Thursday 2 July 2020

David Miliband, Lyse Doucet, Waad al-Kateab, Dr Hamza al-Kateab, Dr Weeda Mehran


Poor countries are ‘on a ledge with no safety net’, according to David Miliband, who was in conversation with Lyse Doucet, Waad al-Kateab, Dr Hamza al-Kateab, and Dr Weeda Mehran in this free live online event. In rich countries, the implications of the coronavirus outbreak seem to be always in people’s lives: poor health, the […]

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When the British spoke French (online event)

Thursday 25 June 2020

Dr Thomas Hinton


The British are the worst language learners in Europe, according to a survey published by the European Commission. However, this was not always the case: in Medieval Britain, French was critical to work in business, law and literature. In 1300, one in five people were bilingual in English and French. More than a quarter of […]

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Why do animals migrate? (online event)

Thursday 21 May 2020

Dr Lucy Hawkes


Have you ever spotted a flock of birds flying somewhere high above you? Have you ever stopped and stared, wondering where they might be going? Our speaker for this free online event is National Geographic Explorer Dr Lucy Hawkes, a leading expert on animal movements who uses state-of-the-art miniaturised electronic tracking units. Lucy tracks migrating […]

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Basic Income Now?

Thursday 30 April 2020

Professor Guy Standing, Ritula Shah (chair)


Aside from the human cost, the Covid-19 pandemic is having massive negative effects on the worldwide economy, and therefore household incomes. One suggested solution is a Universal Basic Income. Our speaker, Guy Standing, the leading expert on the concept, argues that we can solve the ‘evils of modern life’, for almost zero net cost: we […]

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How Bats Changed The World

Thursday 23 April 2020

Professor Kate Jones


In this free online event, we looked at the ecology behind coronavirus, in particular how taking bats out of their natural habitats may have led to the virus moving to humans, as was the case with Ebola, SARS, and MERS.  Our speaker, Professor Kate Jones, specialises in the ecology and biodiversity of bats and also […]

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Making a Psychopath

Thursday 27 February 2020

Dr Mark Freestone


  Find out what makes a psychopath, from the leading expert who helped to create Killing Eve’s Villanelle. Dr Mark Freestone has worked on some of the most interesting and infamous psychopath cases of recent times. Using real case studies, Mark will be looking into their minds. Do you remember the scene where Villanelle dresses […]

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Health Inequalities in the time of Climate Change

Thursday 30 January 2020

Dr Karyn Morrissey


  Recent headlines across the world declared that Climate Change is the ​“the biggest global health threat of the 21st century”—based on the Lancet Countdown on health and climate change published in November 2019. Its co-author joins us from the University of Exeter to discuss her vital work behind the story.  The impacts of climate […]

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Climate Change Theatre Action

Thursday 5 December 2019

Dr Evelyn O’Malley, Dr Sharanya Murali


Join us in Exeter and be part of a global event: an evening of short play readings that encounter our changing climate in unexpected ways. Climate Change Theatre Action is a worldwide series of readings and performances of short climate change plays specially commissioned to coincide with the United Nations climate change meetings. Written by […]

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Big Natural History Television and Conservation

Thursday 28 November 2019

Julian Hector


    Our speaker is head of the BBC Natural History Unit; founded in the 1950s as the first and biggest production unit of its kind, it is regarded as the world’s greatest maker of wildlife documentary films. Planet Earth, Frozen Planet, Life on Earth, and dozens more groundbreaking series were all delivered by this […]

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The Evolution of Public Attitudes During Brexit

Thursday 31 October 2019

Sir John Curtice


Download the images for this talk here Politicians assert that their views reflect the will of the British people, especially when it comes to Brexit. In this special talk, the President of the British Polling Council examines the evidence behind these claims. It takes place on the last day of the extension to Article 50. […]

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The Creativity Code: How AI is Learning to Write, Paint and Think

Thursday 26 September 2019

Professor Marcus Du Sautoy


SLIDES AVAILABLE HERE Will a computer ever compose a symphony, write a prize-winning novel, or paint a masterpiece? New developments in AI are shaking up the status quo, as we find out how many of the tasks humans engage in can be done equally well, if not better, by machines. But can machines be creative? […]

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The Extinction Rebellion Lawyer

Thursday 29 August 2019

Farhana Yamin


When police unglued Farhana Yamin from the forecourt of the Shell building—during climate protests—she became a figurehead of the Extinction Rebellion movement. The Climate Change lawyer appeared on front pages across the world and deftly handled interviews on programmes such as Newsnight. For this Agile Rabbit talk, Farhana argues that now is the time to […]

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Can I Do Anything About Climate Change?

Wednesday 31 July 2019

Professor Piers Forster, Penelope Endersby, Ritula Shah (chair), Molly Scott Cato, Danny Chivers, Professor Steffen Boehm


Do you wonder if altering your diet, cutting down on flights, or declaring a climate emergency makes any difference to climate change? This sell-out discussion with world-leading speakers from politics, business, activism, and science, moved beyond superficial responses to the vital question ‘Can I do anything about climate change?’ The audience brought its own ideas […]

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The Mental Health Crisis in Schools

Thursday 25 July 2019

Professor Tamsin Ford CBE


Are school-days the best of your life? For many they are not. Today, six times more children report mental illness than twenty years ago. Last month, Theresa May announced that every teacher will be trained to spot early warning signs of mental illness, describing tackling the rise in mental health problems as a ‘personal priority’. […]

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Before the Big Bang

Thursday 27 June 2019

Professor Laura Mersini-Houghton


We’re dealing with a biggie in this talk – the origin of the universe. Recent groundbreaking discoveries support the view that our universe is part of a larger cosmic structure: a multiverse. Gravitational anomalies in the structure of our universe are ‘tugs’ exerted by other universes. These exciting theories are indicated by the work of […]

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Evaporating Black Holes and Hawking’s Points

Thursday 30 May 2019

Sir Roger Penrose


A new area of cosmology is the subject for the physicist, mathematician and philosopher of science, famous for many achievements, in particular his work with Stephen Hawking. This talk focuses on recent ground-breaking observations of anomalous points in the very early universe that appear to be sources of vast amounts of energy. These could have […]

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Freedom of Speech in a Globalised World

Thursday 25 April 2019

Professor Yasmin Alibhai-Brown


We are living through disruption to politics and society. Increasingly this is delivered by individuals proudly claiming their rights to free speech. Journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown argues that sexist homophobic views are sometimes justified as expressions of liberty. Should individual rights always take precedence over collective, social responsibility? Despite its flaws, do we need to defend […]

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Shark and chips?

Thursday 28 March 2019

Dr Andrew Griffiths


The sale of shark meat in fish and chip shops was dramatically uncovered by a team at the University of Exeter, led by Dr Andrew Griffiths. Andrew will tell the story behind his headline-grabbing work that recently identified threatened sharks on sale to the British public. The wonderful diversity of sharks and rays around the […]

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System Change

Thursday 28 February 2019

Former leader of the Green Party Natalie Bennett


Can our economic, social, and environmental systems work so that the most responsible choices we make are also the easiest, cheapest, and most obvious? Often when we are faced with environmental or social problems, we find that changing our own actions can initially feel satisfying, but this can sometimes lead to a feeling that the […]

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RGS-IBG Explore South-West – Conference

Saturday 9 February 2019

Belinda Kirk, Dr Ceri Lewis, Professor Toby Pennington, Professor Katie Willis


This is a one day seminar for anyone planning expeditions and field research overseas, with a focus on self-led student projects. The morning consists of short TED-style talks, and the afternoon is made up of workshops. It takes place in the beautiful city of Exeter for adventurous people attracted to the work of the Society. […]

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Is there anything left to explore?

Friday 8 February 2019

Sam Lee, Ritula Shah (chair), Johanna Wadsley, Faraz Shibli


THE OPENING EVENT FOR RGS-IBG EXPLORE SOUTH-WEST Explore South West launched with a lively public panel discussion on the topic “Is there anything left to explore in the 21st century?”. “The glory-seeking adventurer of old is giving way to explorers who want to understand the planet rather than dominate it.” This is how The Economist […]

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The Reluctant Anthropologist: Tales of Madagascar

Thursday 31 January 2019

Professor Maurice Bloch


Why is it so easy, when we go to somewhere which the tourist industry would describe as very exotic, to get on with people? Part of the answer is that remote people are much less different than we might, at first, believe and that modern society is much less different than is often assumed. This […]

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Sea Turtle Conservation

Thursday 29 November 2018

Professor Brendan Godley


Professor Brendan Godley will talk through his esteemed international career in sea turtle conservation from undergraduate researcher to professional scientist. He will highlight how despite technological innovation, we still need to get out into the field.  

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BLUE HEART ~ THE FIGHT FOR EUROPE’S LAST WILD RIVERS

Thursday 11 October 2018


This is a screening of a celebrated film about Europe’s last wild rivers, followed by a panel discussion with speakers from the University of Exeter, National Trust, Flow Partnership, and South West Water The film “Blue Heart” aims to raise public awareness about the negative impact of the Balkan Rivers hydropower boom. More than 3,000 […]

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Isn’t 90º North a Lifeless, Irrelevant and Pointless Place?!

Friday 5 October 2018

Pen Hadow


Pen Hadow is one of the world’s leading explorers. In 2003 Pen Hadow became the first person to trek solo, and without resupply, across the Arctic Ocean’s sea ice from Canada to the North Geographic Pole – a feat that has never been repeated. But of the 850 hours spent hauling his sledge, over 30 […]

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THE VIEW FROM CERN

Thursday 27 September 2018

Professor John Ellis FRS


In this special launch event of Agile Rabbit, Professor John Ellis CBE from CERN asks the fundamental questions about the Universe and our place within it ~ questions that humans have been asking for hundreds of thousands of years. Particle physicists address them by studying the fundamental constituents of matter using the Large Hadron Collider […]

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Using Mindfulness in Kenyan Prisons

Thursday 28 June 2018

Dr Inmaculada Adarves-Yorno


Dr. Inma Adarves-Yorno is a mindfulness TED speaker, researcher, and trainer. She has witnessed the transformational power of mindfulness when aligned with a meaningful social identity. In this talk, Inma tells the fascinating story of the successes and failures of a mindfulness movement in Kenyan prisons. “Prisons and hospitals have something in common in Kenya: […]

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MOZAMBIQUE’S FORGOTTEN SKY-ISLANDS

Thursday 31 May 2018

Sam Jones


Until recent years, the mountains of northern Mozambique- isolated mountain ‘archipelagos’ that lie adjacent to the main highlands of eastern Africa remained relatively unknown in terms of biology. Owing to their remoteness and civil war, they have only recently been explored. These so called ‘sky islands’ harbour lush evergreen rainforests at high altitudes, differing from […]

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A YEAR IN A NAMIBIAN VILLAGE

Thursday 26 April 2018

Dr Helen John


Helen tells tales and anecdotes from her year spent in a Namibian Village conducting anthropological research by discussing interpretations of New Testament texts. Helen lived in an Owambo homestead in the remote North of Namibia. She looked at the relationship between African Traditional Religion and Christianity. As an inexperienced fieldwork researcher at the outset, Helen encountered […]

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LIFE THROUGH AN ICE HOLE: ARCTIC ACIDIFICATION

Thursday 29 March 2018

Dr Ceri Lewis


Ocean acidification, the change in ocean chemistry driven by increasing atmospheric CO2 levels, is one of the biggest threats to our oceans. It is happening first and fastest in the Arctic Ocean. The Catlin Arctic Survey was an exciting multidisciplinary expedition, in which scientists and explorers investigated ocean acidification processes and their impact on marine organisms. […]

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Underwater Sound In Blue Planet II

Thursday 25 January 2018

Professor Steve Simpson


Steve Simpson explains how he has pioneered new ways of listening to the ocean and of interacting with fish (including the use of underwater puppetry), to understand whole soundscapes and to unlock the language of fish. He also discusses his engagement with key marine industries, which aims to reduce and manage human noise pollution in […]

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