Past ILAS events

In this section you can see details of previous ILAS events, including the Grand Challenges lecture series.  The Grand Challenges are at the heart of the Institute’s programme and is the shared core of our new consortial degrees; Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences. The lectures offer a distinctive range of interdisciplinary perspectives on pressing societal questions and are open to all: undergraduates, postgraduates, all staff members and the wider Keele community.

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2019

Tackling Human Infections in the 21st Century - Opportunities and Challenges?

Professor Janet Hemingway - Tackling Human Infections in the 21st Century – Opportunities and Challenges
11 December 2019

Janet Hemingway

Human infections are still a major cause of morbidity and mortality. Antimicrobial resistance threatens our ability to treat simple bacterial infections, diseases such as malaria have been drastically reduced but remain a major killer, other such as filariasis and visceral leishmaniasis may be eradicated as a public health problem in the next decade, while diseases such as dengue and ebola continue to increase. Major breakthroughs in personalised medicine, gene therapy and our ability to collect and analyse large data represent opportunities to bring new approaches to tackling human infections. How tractable are they to such approaches, what are our priorities in attempting to reduce the global burden of disease, what progress has been made and what challenges remain? Looking at these grand challenges the talk will summarise progress to date in some of the major insect borne diseases and highlight the challenges that still remain if we are to adopt sustainable integrated solutions to tackling human infections.

Biography

Janet Hemingway is Professor of Vector Biology at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. She is also a Senior Technical Advisor on Neglected Tropical Diseases for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Janet has been PI on projects in excess of £60 million including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded Innovative Vector Control Consortium. Professor Hemingway was appointed the Director of LSTM in 2001 and stepped down on 1st January 2019, having overseen a period of exceptional growth of the organisation.

Can meaningful hope spring from revealing the depth of our climate failure?

Professor Kevin Anderson - Can meaningful hope spring from revealing the depth of our climate failure?
27 November 2019

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Peel away the layers of dangerously naïve hope and unfounded optimism and the mitigation challenge posed by the Paris Agreement now demands the rapid and profound re-shaping of contemporary society. Whilst the models dominating the mitigation agenda employ evermore exotic and speculative technologies to remain ‘politically palatable’, the arithmetic of emissions increasingly embeds equity at the heart of any mathematically cogent strategy. Dress it up however we may like, the Parisian mitigation agenda is ultimately a rationing issue. Until we are prepared to acknowledge this, we will continue our reckless pathway towards a 3-5°C future.

Against such a depressing backdrop, do the rapid emergence of new and vociferous constituencies and the heightened profile of climate change suggest early cracks and the prospect of new light?

Biography

Kevin Anderson, Professor of Energy and Climate Change - Universities of Manchester (UK) and Uppsala (Sweden)

Kevin Anderson holds a joint chair between the School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering (MACE) at the University of Manchester and the Centre for Environment and Development (CEMUS) at Uppsala University. He has just completed two years as the Zennström Professor of climate change leadership at Uppsala and previously held the roles of Deputy Director and Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. Kevin is research active with publications in Science, Nature and Nature Geosciences.

Kevin engages widely across all tiers of government (EU, UK and Sweden) on issues ranging from shale gas, aviation and shipping to the role of climate modeling (IAMs), carbon budgets and ‘negative emission technologies’. With Manchester colleagues, his analysis previously contributed to the framing of the UK’s Climate Change Act and the development of national carbon budgets.

Kevin has a decade’s industrial experience, principally in the petrochemical industry. He is a chartered engineer and a fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Twitter: @kevinclimate

The Jubilee principle, Martin Dent and the ongoing global financial crisis

Ann Pettifor - The Jubilee principle, Martin Dent and the ongoing global financial crisis
13 November 2019

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The most striking outcome of the global financial crisis of 2007-9 was the stunned impotence of policy makers – politicians, technocrats and central bankers. They were either unable to fix the global economy or consciously chose not to do so. After the crisis, no structural change was made to the system at the core of the crisis: the international financial architecture. Instead business was made better-than-usual for those that caused the crisis, as most too-big-to-fail financial institutions were backed by government guarantees and central bank largesse in the form of QE and low rates.

Policy-makers imposed two key policies on the flawed globalized model: monetary easing (QE and low rates) and fiscal consolidation (austerity). Incomes across the world fell, while insecure employment and private debt rose to 319% of global GDP (IMF). Borrowing by English higher education institutions has ballooned since 2009, as has student debt. Simultaneously the finance sector (or the 1%) became the main beneficiary of central bank largesse. These policies increased corruption and fraud, intensified inequality, insecurity and led to political insurgencies around the world. Dependent on central bank ‘life support’ the heavily indebted global economy is increasingly prone to volatility and to a range of destabilizing shocks including the breakdown of earth’s life support systems. What lies ahead?

This event also marked the launch of the inaugural Martin Dent Justice and Peace Memorial Lecture to honour Professor Martin Dent’s life and work.

Twitter: @AnnPettifor

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Professor Martin Dent 

 Professor Martin Dent - OBE Photo 460x387

The Faculty of Natural Sciences Equality, Diversity and Inclusion committee and the Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences were delighted to welcome Dr Claire Hardy to Keele in the same week as International Menopause Day which this year took place on Friday 18th October 2019

Dr Hardy is an expert in women's health across the lifespan and has a special interest in menopause in the workplace. In her presentation, she introduced the menopause and issues relating to the workplace, sharing findings from her research. The symptoms and signs of the menopause are different for every single woman.  Around 80% of women will suffer from the typical side-effects, such as; changes in periods, hot flushes & night sweats.

Dr Hardy stressed that there are many positives to reaching the menopause stage, such as:

- no more periods
- no more PMS
- no more pregnancy/need for contraception
- more time to focus on self and personal growth

What can we do at work to help?

- Be aware of difficulties for some staff
- Talk. Empower employees to disclose with managers without fear of sanction
- Allow flexible working
- Set up formal & informal support networks
- Provide accurate & evidence-based information

It was a fascinating and important lecture about a subject that needs to be discussed in the workplace so that this is no longer seen as a taboo subject.

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Dr Claire Hardy

Deeds Not Words: The Story of Women’s Rights, Then and Now

Dr Helen Pankhurst - Deeds Not Words: The Story of Women’s Rights, Then and Now
9 October 2019

Helen Pankhurst led a participatory and wide-ranging discussion on women’s lives, reflecting on the changes since the right to a parliamentary vote was first granted to some women in the UK in 1918.

The session was in three parts with questions during and after each. It started with personal reflections from Helen, a direct descendent of the famous Pankhursts, on the Votes for Women campaign and the role of the suffragettes; Second, it explored how far we have come in the last hundred years, looking at and contrasting progress in areas such as in politics, money and work and women’s identity. The session ended with a discussion about priorities going forward.

The participatory lecture was informed by findings from her book Deeds Not Words: The Story of Women’s Rights, Then and Now.

Helen Pankhurst CBE is an author, a women’s rights activist and an international development practitioner.

Helen studied at Sussex University, Vassar College, New York, and Edinburgh University and has an honorary degree from Edge Hill University. She was a Visiting Professor/Senior Fellow at LSE, is a Visiting Professor at MMU and the First Chancellor of the University of Suffolk.

Helen is a Senior Advisor for CARE International, based in the UK and in Ethiopia. She previously worked for other international development charities including WaterAid, Womankind Worldwide and ACORD. She is currently a Trustee of ActionAid and, in 2019, one of the judges of the Orwell Prize for Political writing.

The great-granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst and granddaughter of Sylvia Pankhurst, leaders of the British suffragette movement, Helen carries on the legacy. This has included undertaking re-enactment work for current-day awareness-raising including at the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics, the 2015 film Suffragette, leading CARE International’s annual #March4Women event ahead of International Women’s Day in London launching the Centenary Action Group and the Greater Manchester initiative GM4Women2028. She has worked with the composer Lucy Pankhurst, on the lyrics of the Emmeline Anthem commissioned by BBC Radio 3 and in 2018 published the book: Deeds Not Words, the Story of Women’s Rights, Then and Now.

Twitter: @HelenPankhurst

Video available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PLm6S_-wsxg6AeXE9FdVKZOHKsAn66KXKf&v=CX2RhcLe5xw 

The Postgenomic Condition: Ethics, Justice, Knowledge After the Genome

Professor Jenny Reardon - The Postgenomic Condition: Ethics, Justice, Knowledge After the Genome
23 May 2019

Can Genomics Be Anti-Racist?
At the end of the last millennium, the proposal of the Human Genome Diversity Project and the publication of Herrnstein and Murray’s (1994) controversial bestseller, The Bell Curve, sparked worries that the new science of genomics would reignite scientific racism. Since WWII, human geneticists had labored to distance the study of human genes from eugenics and the Nazi regime. Would that work be undone before genomic research had even really begun? To avert this possibility, in the wake of the sequencing of the human genome—or the postgenomic era—genome scientists and their supporters proposed a new ‘democratic’ approach to genomics. In several high profile cases, they proposed to give power back to “the people” to define themselves, and to control use of their DNA. Yet the problem of race and racism persisted. From the International HapMap Project, to David Reich’s March 2018 editorial in the New York Times, this talk explains how and by what means debates about ‘race’ and racism remain central and formative of the postgenomic condition.

Jenny Reardon is a Professor of Sociology and the Founding Director of the Science and Justice Research Center at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her research draws into focus questions about identity, justice and democracy that are often silently embedded in scientific ideas and practices, particularly in modern genomic research. Her training spans molecular biology, the history of biology, science studies, feminist and critical race studies, and the sociology of science, technology and medicine. She is the author of Race to the Finish: Identity and Governance in an Age of Genomics (Princeton University Press, 2005) and The Postgenomic Condition: Ethics, Justice, Knowledge After the Genome (Chicago University Press, Fall 2017). She has been the recipient of fellowships and awards from, among others, the National Science Foundation, the Max Planck Institute, the Humboldt Foundation, the London School of Economics, the Westinghouse Science Talent Search, and the United States Congressional Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

Brexit and the End of the British Empire

Professor Danny Dorling - Brexit and the End of the British Empire
15 May 2019

From Brexit the British may learn a great deal about themselves as a result of having voted to 'Leave'. Not least that Britain, and even Brexit, has its roots in the British Empire. Traditionally British Geography, a subject that was partly born in its current form in Britain due to Empire, has not been very good at explaining what the Empire was and why it mattered so much to Britain. Brexit may well be the point at which the English, in particular, finally learn about the importance of geography. Geography is central to Brexit - from the Irish border through to the modern day priorities of India. In hindsight, living with the highest rate of income inequality in Europe was arguably the real problem for the British, rather than being in the EU per se. The source of British woes was not immigrants or some perceived lack of sovereignty, but of their own making, and possibly (at least in part) an outcome of having so recently been at the heart of the largest empire the world has ever known.

Danny Dorling is the Halford Mackinder Professor in Geography at the University of Oxford. He was previously Professor of Geography at the University of Leeds and the University of Sheffield, and earlier held academic posts in Newcastle, Bristol, and New Zealand. His most recent books are ‘Peak Inequality’ (with Sally Tomlinson), which was published in 2018 and ‘Brexit (“Rule Britannia”)’, published in January 2019.

You can download the slides from Danny Dorling's lecture here: Slides from Danny Dorling lecture on 15 May 2019

Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching Conference

2019 Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching Conference
9-10 April 2019

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At Keele University, we were delighted to host the fourth Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching Conference. Interdisciplinary teaching, scholarship and research are increasingly prioritised within Higher Education and there are many developing opportunities, programmes and examples of innovative and best practice to be disseminated to a wider audience. The conference gave delegates an opportunity to share their research, practice and interdisciplinary knowledge.

Conference themes focused on the design, development and delivery of interdisciplinary study, research, and learning and teaching across the UK and included keynote speaker Dr Machiel Keestra, assistant professor (UD) at the Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Amsterdam.

The two day conference included parallel paper sessions, a discursive panel, a student-led workshop and poster presentations.

You can download a copy of the conference programme here: Conference Programme

What are universities for now?

Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences partnership event with the Keele Institute for Social Inclusion
3 April 2019

As we enter our 70th anniversary year, it is a time to reflect on Keele as a university with a long and proud history, one that responds to the needs of a modern and rapidly changing society. In 1949, Lord Lindsay, our founder and a great and innovative educationalist, outlined a powerful vision for the purpose of a university in an era of post-war austerity. He was clear that universities have a key role to play in enriching democratic societies so that they would become ever more inclusive, civilized and enlightened.

In 2019, we face a future that is at least as uncertain as it would have seemed to Lindsay and his contemporaries 70 years ago. All universities face unprecedented challenges and questions about their purpose and value, and it is ever more important that we seek to clarify what the broad purpose of universities is in the twenty first century.

Updating Lindsay’s vision
One way to update Lindsay’s compelling vision and to make it clearly relevant to the needs of the future is to unearth its enduring underpinning values. We might consider the core value at the heart of that vision to be social freedom, that is the ways in which individual autonomy can be facilitated through forms of social co-operation that are mutually beneficial. Universities promote social freedom by supporting students in ways that not only enhance their personal freedom, but also their productive freedom, through the world of paid and unpaid work, and their political freedom as engaged citizens of the world. Through its research and various forms of partnership, universities can also be instruments of social freedom that have positive impacts on the wider society in the economic, political and cultural spheres.

This one-day conference brought together students, academics and practitioners to debate the role of universities today by exploring their potential as instruments of social freedom. If we are to remain committed and true to a vision that highlights the transformative potential of universities in enhancing the freedom of all, students, staff, alumni and wider society, then we need to ask what it would mean for us to lead the way in realising this vision today.

Politicising our wrinkles: using optimism to challenge anti-ageing culture

Professor Jayne Raisborough - Politicising our wrinkles: using optimism to challenge anti-ageing culture
13 March 2019

Ageing is gendered. Women’s longevity and their position in gendered pay/ pension inequalities leave many women exposed to precarity and hardships in later life. Additionally ‘anti-ageing culture’ recasts age as a something that can be repaired and reversed. This can mean that women face a cultural expectation to engage with expensive, painful and environmentally-damaging beauty regimes to ‘manage’ or ‘fight’ signs of ageing. That this is moralised site is evidenced by women being accused of ‘letting themselves go’ as they age. This makes for a bleak picture of contemporary ageing, yet women can and do resist the moral imperative to reverse age and they do find other forms of asserting self-worth and identity in a culture that threatens to erase any non-compliant bodies. Drawing upon findings from an ‘antidote to anti-ageing ‘ project and the voices of 60 women, aged from 40- 101 years, Professor Raisborough considers the ways that women’s responses to anti-ageing are formed, informed and lived out and how their ambitions to age on their own terms are shaped. From an optimistic perspective and listening and learning from our aging rebels, she argues for continued attention to the ways that we resist and negotiate anti-aging and challenges feminism to act as a better resource for older women.

Jayne Raisborough is Professor of Media, within the School of Cultural Studies and Humanities at Leeds Beckett University. Her work broadly focuses on two questions: who can we be and how can we live in prevailing socio-economic contexts? These questions are explored across a range of journal articles and her most recent books: Lifestyle Media and the Formation of the Self (2011 Palgrave) and Fat Bodies, Health and the Media (2016 Palgrave). She has explored, published and taught on media/ cultural representations of social class, gender, ethical consumption, litter and more recently anti-ageing and women’s gun ownership. While these sites are diverse, they each represent specific manifestations of ‘responsiblised’ citizenship and allow insight into a cultural shaping of new subjectivities. She is interested in what is enabled and enacted through this responsiblization and shaping - particularly because these activities relate to prevailing neoliberal rationalities.

How do we challenge the stealthy world of digital surveillance?

Professor Beverley Skeggs - How do we challenge the stealthy world of digital surveillance?
27 February 2019

A copy of the Powerpoint presentation from the lecture can be downloaded by clicking the link here: Bev Skeggs Powerpoint Presentation (27MB)

When every nanosecond of our existence is being tracked for advertising potential, should we worry? When every action on phones, computers and even in front of TVs is being stored, what should we think? When the future of nations is being gamed by hidden forces, for example, Cambridge Analytica’s political activities on Facebook, how should we respond? Is there anything that we can do?

Drawing upon findings from a recent interdisciplinary research project which tracked the trackers to try to understand values and value, Professor Bev Skeggs will show how digital systems are creating inequality in new ways and will ask what is to be done to take control of the digital world for the first time.

Bev Skeggs is the Director of the Atlantic Fellows Programme at the LSE. Before taking up this post she was Professor of Sociology, at Goldsmiths, University of London. She has published The Media; Issues in Sociology (1992); Feminist Cultural Theory (1995); Formations of Class and Gender (1997); Class, Self, Culture (2004); Sexuality and the Politics of Violence and Safety (2004) (with Les Moran) and Feminism after Bourdieu (2005) (with Lisa Adkins), and with Helen Wood, Reacting to Reality TV: Audience, Performance, Value (2012) and Reality TV and Class (2012). Between 2013-16 she was an ESRC Professorial Fellow working on a “sociology of values and value" that included projects on the digital economy and prosperity theology.

What is the role of people in an age of intelligent machines?

Dr Joanna Bryson - What is the role of people in an age of intelligent machines?
13 February 2019

Artificial intelligence (AI) and the information age are bringing us more information about ourselves and each other than any society has ever known. Yet at the same time it brings machines seemingly more capable of every human endeavour than any human can be. What are the limits of AI? Of intelligence and humanity more broadly? What are our ethical obligations to machines? Do these alter our obligations to each other? What is the basis of our social obligations?

In this talk I will argue that there are really only two problems humanity (or any other species) has to solve. These are sustainability and inequality, or put another way, security and power. Or put a third way, how big of a pie can we make, and how do we slice up that pie. Life is not a zero-sum game; we and many other species use the security of sociality to construct public goods where everyone benefits. But still, every individual needs enough pie to thrive, and this is the challenge of inequality. I will argue that understanding these processes answers the questions above, and then will look at how AI is presently affecting both these problems. I will close with concrete policy recommendations for managing AI and our society.

Dr Joanna Bryson is an Associate Professor (Reader) at the University of Bath. Dr Bryson’s first and third degrees were in Psychology (Chicago, Edinburgh), while her second and fourth were in Artificial Intelligence (Edinburgh, MIT), so she approaches AI from the perspective and for the purpose of understanding human behaviour. Before her postgraduate education she did programming and system administration in Chicago's financial industry, and has since consulted for a number of companies on AI, notably LEGO. She has worked off and on in AI ethics since 1996, and helped author the UK research councils’ Principles of Robotics in 2010. In the last two years she’s consulted to the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research on researching the impact of AI on society, the Red Cross on autonomous weapons, Chatham House on the impact of AI on the nuclear threat, and the British Parliament, the British Financial Conduct Authority, the European Parliament and Commission, the Council of Europe, and the OECD regarding the regulation of AI.

How can we cure disease?

  • Professor Daniel M Davis - How can we cure disease?
  • 30 January 2019

The immune system holds the key to human health. In this talk, Daniel M. Davis will describe the scientific quest to understand how it works – and how it is affected by stress, sleep, age and our state of mind – and explain how this knowledge is now unlocking a revolutionary new approach to medicine and well-being.

The body's ability to fight disease and heal itself is one of the great mysteries and marvels of nature. But within the last few years painstaking research has resulted in major advances in our understanding of this breathtakingly beautiful inner world: a vast and intricate network of specialist cells, regulatory proteins and dedicated genes that are continually protecting our bodies. Far more powerful than any medicine ever invented, it also plays a crucial role in our daily lives. Already we have found ways to harness these natural defences to create breakthrough drugs and so-called immunotherapies that help us fight cancer, diabetes, arthritis and many age-related diseases, and we are starting to understand whether or not activities such as mindfulness might play a role in enhancing our physical resilience.

Daniel M Davis is a Professor of Immunology at Manchester University. His research, using super-resolution microscopy to study immune cell biology, was listed in Discover magazine as one of the top 100 breakthroughs of the year. He is the author of THE COMPATIBILITY GENE, described by Bill Bryson in the Guardian’s Books of the Year as ‘elegantly written and unexpectedly gripping’. His most recent book, THE BEAUTIFUL CURE, has been described by Stephen Fry as 'One of those books that makes you look at everything human in a new, challenging and thrilling way'. He has published well over 120 academic papers, cited over 10,000 times, including articles in Nature, Science and Scientific American.

Reflections on the (in)compatibilities of social justice and HIV vaccine research agendas in resource-poor communities in South Africa

In this talk I reflect on my experiences as community health psychologist conducting qualitative social science research on HIV vaccines in South Africa. My reflection centres on the competing narratives of social justice, community engagement and scientific research that confront me in my work. Positioning myself as scholar-activist, I discuss the challenges that arise at the intersection of qualitative research on community engagement in HIV vaccine research and the process of scientific experimentation.

HIV vaccine research spans complex relationships between local and global stakeholders. In South Africa, HIV vaccine research takes place amongst the most vulnerable and marginalised populations. Communities who host HIV vaccine research are the victims of oppression, reflected in the enduring impact of structural inequalities that threaten their health and well-being. They become the target for HIV vaccine research participation due to their elevated risk of HIV infection. Clinical trials to test candidate HIV vaccines bring resources into local communities. Participation in HIV vaccine research mediates community members’ access to these resources.

Researchers and trial funders emphasise the crucial role that local communities play in the successful development of a safe and efficacious HIV vaccine. Power hierarchies between researchers, funders and local communities reproduce inequalities and challenge notions of equal partnership and mutual benefit. Community engagement processes designed to promote participation in HIV vaccine research continue to fulfil an ethical and operational function, neglecting issues of community capacity-building and empowerment.

Dr Anthea M. Lesch is a lecturer, scholar, activist and qualitative researcher based in the Psychology Department at Stellenbosch University in South Africa. Her work adopts a community psychological approach to examining inequality and its impact on the health and well-being of marginalized and oppressed groups in society. Her current research focusses on community engagement in communities affected by HIV/AIDS, black women’s sexual and reproductive health, the lived experiences of people living on the streets of urban Cape Town and exploring narratives about race, racism and the racial collective consciousness in contemporary South Africa.

Dr Anthea Lesch is an ILAS visiting fellow hosted by Dr Lisa Dikomitis, Institute for Primary Care and Health Sciences (iPCHS) and School of Medicine and Professor Mihaela Kelemen, Director of the Community Animation and Social Innovation Centre (CASIC). Find out more about their project ‘For the common good, health and wellbeing: developing creative participatory methodologies for patient and public involvement and engagement in global health research.'

2020-2030: The Most Critical Decade in Humankind’s Short History

2018 was a shocking year for humankind in terms of accelerating climate change, loss of species and habitats, worsening pollution problems, and serious setbacks on governance, human rights and poverty alleviation issues. Plus an extra 75 million people by the end of the year.

To point out that this is literally ‘unsustainable’ is blindingly obvious – but politicians are still not in listening mode. So how can we, in Higher Education and elsewhere, double-down on today’s inspiring solutions agenda? And should we now be embracing a new era of much more radical direct action?

Sir Jonathon Porritt, Co-Founder of Forum for the Future, is an eminent writer, broadcaster and commentator on sustainable development. Established in 1996, Forum for the Future is now the UK’s leading sustainable development charity. The Forum has a growing presence in the United States, India, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. In addition he is President of The Conservation Volunteers, a Non-Executive Director of Willmott Dixon Holdings, a Trustee of Ashden, and a Director of Collectively (an online platform celebrating sustainable innovation). He was formerly Director of Friends of the Earth, co-chair of the Green Party and as Chairman of the UK Sustainable Development Commission until 2009, he spent nine years providing high-level advice to Government Ministers. Jonathon was installed as the Chancellor of Keele University in February 2012. He is also Visiting Professor at Loughborough University and UCL. Recent books are ‘Capitalism As If The World Matters’ (2007) and ‘The World We Made’ (2013) - which seeks to inspire people about the prospects of a sustainable world in 2050. Jonathon received a CBE in January 2000 for services to environmental protection.

2018

Knowledge and a transforming world

  • Professor Ioan Fazey - Green Keele Christmas lecture
  • 6 December 2018

Brought to you in partnership between Keele's Institute for Sustainable Futures and the Institute for Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Humanity and the planet are entering a period of major, transformative change in economies, political power, human-environment relationships and technology. Whether for the good or for the bad, transformation of society in some way is inevitable. Humanity has therefore no option other than to try and find ways to help steward such transformations towards more equitable and sustainable futures.

Science and knowledge have an important role to play in this process. Yet so far, science and research is arguably failing humanity when its impact is measured against the level of progress being made towards addressing burgeoning global environmental and social crises. Further, for all its brilliant success, science and technology, have led to many of the problems to which transformative responses are now needed, including climate change, obesity, smoking, mental health, plastics in the oceans and premature deaths from air pollution. This raises important questions about the kinds of knowledge and learning needed for, and in, a transforming world.

This Christmas lecture explores these issues, including briefly outlining the origins of scientific thinking and the challenges that have emerged, including the limits of current approaches to knowledge and research in being able to address the problems that science and technology have also produced. Examples will be used to highlight the need for new thinking for the 21st Century, such as in Louisiana where communities are already on the move due to growing impact of sea level rise and where policy professionals are questioning the kinds of governance needed to support inevitable change. New and radical thinking is also required, such as recent work in Bangladesh which has led to the building of resilient floating homes. A key issue is then how new ways of thinking and solutions can be developed, which in turn raises questions about whether the formal ways knowledge is produced, such as that produced in Universities and research institutes, is fit for purpose in a world of major change. Key for this is to find ways to emancipate learning and unleash a new era of creativity that not only produces knowledge about the nature of bio-physical and social phenomena but also leads the development of wisdom about how to act in the world. Overall, this lecture is timely for a Christmas season of both celebration and reflection as it seeks to stimulate thinking about how current ways of thinking about knowledge, knowing and learning has resulted in many benefits for many people but also how such thinking may also need to change to help achieve more equitable and sustainable futures.

Ioan Fazey is Professor of the Social Dimensions of Environmental Change at the University of Dundee and Director of the Centre for Environmental Change and Human Resilience. He has over 60 research publications in knowledge, learning, resilience, vulnerability and sustainability. His work has included innovative projects on community resilience in the South Pacific and Scotland and co-creative projects to build flood resilient floating homes in Bangladesh. He is actively involved in helping support and facilitate emergence of a growing field of research on action on Transformations to Sustainability. This includes convening the Transformations 2017 Conference Series and being a co-founder of the SDG Transformation Forum, and trustee of H3Uni, an action oriented organisation that seeks to promote transformative thinking and capacity for working within a changing world. To find solace from a turbulent world and foster inspiration and support he spends time connecting with the non-human world, including with his dog.

Can women ever win in politics? Reflections on the centenary of women’s suffrage

  • Melissa Benn - Grand Challenges lecture
  • 5 December 2018

A hundred years ago, women won the qualified right to vote. In the ensuing hundred years, we have seen the rise of many women in politics, much legislation that benefits women’s lives and, more recently, the resurgence of a powerful and intersectional global feminism. But something is still very wrong in our body politic and in civic society, particularly for women without power, influence or ‘voice.’ In this talk, I want to reflect on enduring achievements, new dangers and disputes, and how we might craft a more inclusive and effective politics for the 21st century.

Melissa Benn is a writer and campaigner. She has published numerous articles and essays for publications as diverse as Public Finance and the London Review of Books, and is currently a regular contributor to the Guardian and New Statesman. She has published eight books including two novels and her non-fiction includes the highly acclaimed School Wars: The Battle for Britain’s Education (2011) and What Should We Tell Our Daughters? The Pleasures and Perils of Growing Up Female (2013). She is on the board of the Oxford Women in Humanities group and chair of the national campaign group Comprehensive Future.

A public health narrative for anti-discrimination law

  • Professor Iyiola Solanke - Grand Challenges lecture
  • 28 November 2018

Despite over 50 years of anti-discrimination law in the UK, reports demonstrate that discrimination has not only endured but in some areas worsened. Why is this? In this talk I suggest that a problem lies in the individualised approach inherent in anti-discrimination law, where an individual victim brings a case against an individual organisation/ employer. I suggest that if this were to be complemented with a social approach, where public action was a norm alongside individual action, anti-discrimination law could be more effective. Drawing upon literature in critical social psychology and methods adopted in public health campaigns, I propose a way to do this.

Professor Iyiola Solanke, is a Professor in the Centre for Law and Social Justice at the University of Leeds where she holds the Chair in EU Law and Social Justice. 

Innovation and Knowledge Exchange in Universities: The development of a Knowledge Exchange Framework

  • Professor Trevor McMillan - Grand Challenges lecture
  • 7 November 2018

Universities play a key societal role in supporting and enhancing the performance of a wide range of communities and organisations at local, regional, national and global scales. The nature of this, though, depends on the characteristics and strategies of individual universities. Academic strengths, portfolio, local environment all play a role in determining the nature and level of interaction with outside bodies. The importance of this has been recognised for some time by government in different ways and it is critical that we can demonstrate the extent and success of knowledge exchange in universities and commit to getting better at it.

A Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF) should provide a mechanism for assessing performance and approaches to improvement, against the backdrop of the enormous variety of activities carried out in universities, and the variation between universities, in terms of what is appropriate for them to focus on. This lecture will consider the current proposed approaches to a Knowledge Exchange Framework.

Professor Trevor McMillan became Vice-Chancellor of Keele University in August 2015.

Ethics, law and the future of democracy

  • Dr Rowan Williams - Grand Challenges lecture
  • 16 October 2018

We are living in the aftermath of a referendum. And whatever the rights and wrongs of the particular result, it’s worth asking why we aren’t usually governed by referendum. Democracy in the full meaning has an ethical component, which is in danger if we just go by majority votes: it assumes something about the liberty or dignity of every citizen, and so mandates a certain approach to minorities or dissidents. In this lecture, Dr Williams will look at how this has evolved and how it works - and why and where it may be at risk today.

Dr Rowan Williams, Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge former Archbishop of Canterbury.

Supported by Keele's Centre for Ageing Research (KCAR) and the Institute for Liberal Arts and Sciences (ILAS)

  • Late-Life Creativity: an International Showcase
  • 28 June 2018

Research into social and cultural gerontology and, more recently, late-life creativity, benefits hugely from the degree to which it can learn from international perspectives, exemplars and communities of practice. Keele and the New Vic Theatre have pioneered the 'Live Age' festival since 2014, based on the New Dynamics of Ageing-funded 'Ages and Stages' project, and experiences learned from a collaboration with the University of Alberta and Edmonton's ground-breaking festival of late-life creativity.

Keele's Centre for Ageing Research (KCAR) is delighted to host Dr Nuria Casado-Gual (University of Lleida) whose internationally-funded Honorary Research Fellowship in Keele’s School of Humanities is enabling her to develop and share her work on late-life creativity in partnership with colleagues at Keele, the New Vic Theatre, and North Staffordshire’s creative writing community.

The showcase will feature Dr Casado Gual, with contributions from Dr Jill Rezzano and members of the Ages and Stages company; Dr Karan Jutla (De Montfort University) on narrative talking therapies among Sikh dementia carers; and David Amigoni on the international dimensions of his forthcoming edited collection (with Gordon McMullan, King's College, London) on late-life creativity.

An interdisciplinary Workshop from the Children and Young People's Research Network with Seedcorn Funding provided by the Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences (ILAS)

  • Addressing children and young people’s health and well-being using a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach
  • 26 June 2018

Attendance at this workshop is by invitation only. For more details, please contact Professor Claire Fox, c.fox@keele.ac.uk.

Full details of the workshop programme can be downloaded at Children and Young People’s Research Network

The Ends of Work

  • Professor Nicholas Smith - Grand Challenges lecture
  • 13 June 2018

One of the great challenges of our times is the current transformation of work and how we should orient ourselves ethically in relation to this transformation. It is popularly argued that as more and more jobs become automated, there will be less and less work to go around, decreasing occupational stability, but no shortage of wealth. In these circumstances, the fundamental moral challenge is to ensure that those who remain in work do not enjoy a disproportionately large share of this wealth, that the growing numbers of unemployed people get their fair share, and that no one is stigmatised for not wanting to work at all. Put simply, to ensure that the benefits - and in particular the freedoms - of the end of work are equally available to everyone. However, the question remains; does this get to the ethical heart of the challenge the transformation of work poses for us? In this lecture I suggest that it does not.

Professor Nicholas H. Smith is Professor of Philosophy at Macquarie University and an Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences Fellow 2017-8. He has published widely in critical social theory and philosophy of work. His latest book, The Return of Work in Critical Theory: Self, Society, Politics, co-authored with Christophe Dejours, Jean-Philippe Deranty and Emmanuel Renault, is published by Columbia University Press (2018).

Transforming health care in the Philippines: An eyewitness account from a public health transformer

  • Dr Manuel M. Dayrit - A School of Medicine event in partnership with the Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • 6 June 2018

Dr Manuel M. Dayrit will talk about his passion for improving health care in the Philippines, particularly for poor people in rural, remote, and underserved communities.

Dr Manuel M. Dayrit served as Secretary of Health of the Philippines (2001-2005). He dedicated his life to improving health care in the Philippines. First as a young community physician in rural Mindanao and later as disease control specialist and Director of Health Promotion at the Philippine's Department of Health. He held senior roles at the WHO. As Director of the Department of Human Resources for Health at WHO, he helped create the WHO Code for the International Recruitment of Health Personel in 2010. He is now Dean of the Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health in Manila where he leads a faculty dedicated to forming physician-leaders for the country.

Dr Dayrit and Professor Andrew Hassell (Head of Keele's School of Medicine) are Principal Investigators of the Newton-funded iPRIME study. Dr Dayrit is also Co-Investigator of SOLACE, a research project bringing together UK-based and Philippines based researchers from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds. SOLACE is led by Dr Lisa Dikomitis.

Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics for an Age of Crisis

  • George Monbiot - Grand Challenges lecture
  • 4 May 2018

A toxic ideology rules the world – of extreme competition and individualism. It misrepresents human nature, destroying hope and common purpose. Only a positive vision can replace it, a new story that re-engages people in politics and lights a path to a better world.

George Monbiot explains how new findings in psychology, neuroscience and evolutionary biology cast human nature in a radically different light: as the supreme altruists and cooperators. He shows how we can build on these findings to create a new politics: a ‘politics of belonging’. Both democracy and economic life can be radically reorganized from the bottom up, enabling us to take back control and overthrow the forces that have thwarted our ambitions for a better society. His new and thrilling vision provides the hope and clarity required to change the world.

George Monbiot writes a weekly column for the Guardian and is the author of a number of books, including How Did We Get Into This Mess?; Heat: How to Stop the Planet Burning; The Age of Consent: A Manifesto for a New World Order; Captive State: The Corporate Takeover of Britain; and Feral: Rewilding the Land, Sea and Human Life. His most recent project is an album, written with the musician Ewan McLennan, called Breaking the Spell of Loneliness.

A Cross-Disciplinary Workshop from the Institute for Science & Technology in Medicine (ISTM) with Seedcorn Funding provided by the Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences (ILAS)

  • Translating stem cell research into a new cell therapy for lung diseases
  • 2 May 2018

The workshop will include the following presentations:

  • Prof. Nicholas Forsyth - Introduction, Keele
  • Prof. Wei Zuo (Keynote) - Adult stem cells and regenerative medicine, Tongji University, China
  • Dr Ting Zhang - Commercialization of stem cell therapy, Regend Therapeutics, China
  • Dr Lucy Fairclough (Keynote) - Fundamental and biomarker research in COPD, Nottingham University
  • Dr Jan Herman Kuiper - Regulatory hurdles in cell therapy: our experience with autologous cartilage cell therapy, RJAH
  • Dr Simon Lea/Dr Helen Wright - Ethics and Patient & Public Involvement, R & D, UHNM
  • Dr Haris Mohammed - UK lung clinical treatment and challenge, UHNM
  • Dr Abigail Rutter - The potential use of Selected-Ion Flow-Tube Mass Spectrometry for lung disease research, Keele
  • Prof. Yibin Fu - Constitutive modelling of rubber and biological tissues, Keele
  • Dr Simon Pearce - Extracting elastic properties from the indentation of highly curved biological surfaces, Manchester
  • Prof. Ying Yang - Establishment of 3D tissue models, Keele
  • 1pm Lunch and refreshments

 

There will be Keynote presentations from Prof Wei Zuo of Tonji University and Dr Lucy Fairclough of Nottingham University.

UKON 2018

  • The Sixth UK Ontology Network meeting, supported by the Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • 30 April 2018

The Sixth UK Ontology Network meeting (#ukon2018) will take place on Monday, April 30th, 2018 at Keele University. The aims of this meeting are as follows:

To enable dissemination of ontology and related forms of knowledge representation relevant work from across multiple disciplines
To encourage collaboration and cooperation between different members of UK organisations working in this area
To help establish a research agenda in ontology and better communication with funding councils and industry needs

This event is supported by the Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

For more information, please visit: http://ukontology.org/

Turning Heads: Changing Minds

  • ILAS PG Conference 2018
  • 19 April 2018

Welcome to the Institute’s third postgraduate conference; a great opportunity to celebrate the fantastic range and diversity of postgraduate work in the University.

All postgraduate students are invited to share their work in progress and present their research, dissertation project and course-related posters to a cross disciplinary audience of peers, students and staff.

Participants are expected to present their work as a poster, although artefacts or performance may also be offered. This is a different and alternative opportunity in addition to those available within the faculties and research institutes and the challenge here is to communicate your work in an accessible and inspiring way to an informed, but non-specialist audience.

We hope that as many research and taught students as possible will wish to take an active part in this innovative conference format; it is an opportunity to gain valuable experience in sharing your work beyond your own field and most importantly to hear and learn more about the diverse range of work being undertaken in different fields and from different perspectives. In this way, your conversations and interactions will encourage new ideas and fresh ways of thinking about your work.

After Brexit, UKRI if you want to: a field guide to the new research landscape

  • James Wilsdon - Grand Challenges lecture
  • 18 April 2018

The research system is changing, but the need for robust social science, novel methodologies and interdisciplinary analysis of complex problems has never been greater.

We’re about to embark on the biggest shake-up in the organisation of UK research for a generation. On 1 April 2018, implementation of the Higher Education and Research Bill will see the seven Research Councils, Innovate UK and the research arm of HEFCE drawn into the warm embrace of Sir Mark Walport's new mega-funder, UKRI (UK Research and Innovation). Multi-billion pound strategic funds - for global challenges and industrial strategy - are the main source of extra investment in the funding system, forcing universities to think creatively about the projects and cross-disciplinary teams they can assemble. The Research Excellence Framework has been revamped. And all of these reforms are taking place against the backdrop of the compound uncertainties of Brexit.

The external drivers are pressing, how can we prepare for the road that lies ahead? What opportunities - as well as bumps - may lie around the corner? Drawing on his experience at the heart of UK research policy, James Wilsdon will offer a field guide to the shifting contours of the UK research landscape.

James Wilsdon is Professor of Research Policy and Director of Impact and Engagement in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Sheffield. From 2013-2017, he was Chair of the UK's Campaign for Social Science. He also chaired the independent review of the role of metrics in the management of the UK’s research system, which published its final report 'The Metric Tide' in 2015. Previously, James worked as Professor of Science and Democracy at University of Sussex and Director of Science Policy at the Royal Society. He is an editor of the Guardian's 'Political Science' blog on science and research policy. In 2015, he was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences.

The ‘Betrayal of White Pupils’ (and other lies we’re told about race and education)

  • David Gillborn - Grand Challenges lecture
  • 21 March 2018

In April 2016 the front page of the Daily Mail, Britain’s most politically influential newspaper, was dominated by the headline ‘Betrayal of White Pupils’. The subheading stated that ‘By 16, white British children lag behind 12 ethnic groups’.

The story is part of a long running campaign, waged across the mass media and mainstream politics, that presents White people as race victims, ignored by the ‘elite’ and treated as second-class citizens in the face of multiculturalism and political correctness. In education, this lie has been perpetrated by both main political parties and has led to education policy that not only ignores racist inequality, but actively reinforces and worsens the situation.

Contrary to the popular assumption that racism is an occasional aberration seen at times of exceptional stress or social upheaval, this lecture argues that racism is a deeply-rooted characteristic of education in England. The Brexit vote and the election of President Trump have raised the profile of popular racism but at a fundamental level institutional racism and the routine privileging of White people, especially the White middle class, never went away. Migration and social integration are frequently cited as major challenges facing society but this misunderstands the problem; a greater challenge is whether we can move the White majority from its position of assumed dominance and superiority.

David Gillborn is Professor of Critical Race Studies and Director of the Centre for Research in Race & Education (CRRE) at the University of Birmingham. He is best known for his research on racism in educational policy and practice and, in particular, for championing the growth of Critical Race Theory (CRT) internationally. He is founding editor of the peer-reviewed journal ‘Race Ethnicity and Education’ and twice winner of the ‘Book of the Year’ award by the Society for Educational Studies (SES). His international honours include the Derrick Bell Legacy Award, from the Critical Race Studies in Education Association (CRSEA), for career accomplishments that demonstrate ‘personal courage and professional commitment to supporting and advocating race equality in education,’ and membership of the Kappa Delta Pi Laureate Chapter, which is limited to 60 living educators who have made a significant and lasting impact on the profession of education. David is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. His most recent books are ‘The Colour of Class’ (co-authored with Nicola Rollock, Stephen J. Ball and Carol Vincent, 2015) and ‘Foundations of Critical Race Theory in Education’ (co-edited with Edward Taylor and Gloria Ladson-Billings, 2016).

This one-day workshop explores pedagogies of listening and one-to-one communication, and the urgent need for the development of listening skills and the creation of spaces and environments for interdisciplinary and inter-cultural dialogue within higher education, in order to work toward a more sustainable society and future. The workshop draws on the resources and experiences of a HEFCE Catalyst funded teaching innovation project ‘Unmaking Single Perspectives: a Listening Project’ at Keele University.

We can find many examples which demonstrate our lack of willingness to listen to others with different perspectives to our own, but also examples of when listening has led to the avoidance of conflict and to greater understanding. Achieving a more sustainable and just society requires us to hear the voices of those with perspectives different to ourselves, and to work effectively in new partnerships, as reflected in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Yet, in the majority of disciplines in higher education, there is an implicit assumption that ‘communication skills’ means speaking, with a focus on developing skills in presenting to large audiences, or debating and ‘winning’ arguments. Other than within professional practice courses there is rarely much acknowledgement of the need for the development of skills relating to one-to-one communication and understanding of others’ perspectives, despite the crucial role this plays in our personal and professional lives.

This immersive workshop will be of interest to anyone interested in the pedagogies of listening and communication, interdisciplinarity and education for sustainable development. The workshop will explore the creation of spaces and environments for listening within higher or further education and the application of these approaches to an education system tailored to supporting a more sustainable future; and it will introduce resources, activities and techniques conducive to open dialogue and active listening among students from different disciplines that can be adapted to your own context and practice.

You can download a copy of the draft programme here: Dissemination Event Draft Programme

19th March - Keele Hall, Salvin Room 10-4pm

18 April - London South Bank University 10-4pm

23 April – Edinburgh University 10-4pm

The Future of Social Housing after Grenfell

  • Anne Power - Grand Challenges lecture
  • 21 February 2018


Following the Grenfell fire and all its tragic consequences, the spotlight is on social landlords. They own over four million homes, housing around ten million tenants and nearly half of these live in multi-storey blocks of flats, where safety, security, repair and maintenance are critical.

Tenants are extremely anxious to know that their blocks are safe and that their landlord is taking all essential steps to secure this longer term, however, up to now, the Government has focussed on increasing the numbers of homes built and the needs of first-time buyers to the detriment of social renting. Recent events have sharpened the focus on the urgent need for more social housing at truly affordable rents, the need to invest properly in existing homes and communities and crucially, tenants’ needs to be heard and heeded.

In this lecture Anne Power will discuss the following questions; Can/will social landlords rise to the challenge? Will the government stick to its work to make social housing matter? Will tenants be treated as full citizens with the same housing rights as property owners?

Professor Anne Power has been involved in European and American housing and urban problems since 1965. In 1966, she worked with Martin Luther King's 'End Slums' campaign in Chicago, and, on her return to Britain, organised community-based projects in Islington, Hackney and Tower Hamlets. From 1979 to 1989, she worked for the Department of the Environment and Welsh Office, setting up Priority Estates Projects to rescue run-down estates all over the country. In 1991, she became founding director of the National Communities Resource Centre at Trafford Hall in Chester which provides residential training and pump priming support for people living and working in low-income communities.

Anne became a Professor of Social Policy at the London School of Economics in 1996 and is Head of LSE Housing and Communities, a research group based within the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion. She is author of many books, reports and articles on housing, cities and low-income communities and her latest publication Cities for a Small Continent was published in 2016.

A workshop organised by visiting ILAS Fellow, Dr Thibaut Devièse and Dr Szu Shen Wong, Keele University with the support of the Art and Humanities Research Council.

  • Royal Pharmaceutical Society, London
  • 16 February 2018

Have you ever wondered what goes into your skincare products you use?
Have you ever wondered what makes them smell so nice?
Have you ever wondered how they keep your skin looking healthy?

If so, come and join us for an afternoon of fun family-oriented activities and find out the answers to all your questions!

You will get the chance to try natural cosmetics.
You will also get the opportunity to design (and keep) cosmetic advertisements and packaging.

This follows on from the 'From Past to Present - Natural Cosmetics Unwrapped: Conference' held on 15 February at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, London.

On 15th February 2018, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society will host a conference focused on the study of natural cosmetics over time. This conference is co-organised by the University of Oxford, the University of Glasgow, Keele University and with the support of the Art and Humanities Research Council (Science in Culture).

For thousands of years, cosmetic products have been made with a range of minerals and organic substances. With the development of long distance commercial routes, the diversity of cosmetics increased drastically during Antiquity. In the last few centuries, many such cosmetics have been produced, marketed, and distributed by the cosmetic industry with classical influences. For example, the recipes of medical writers such as Hippocrates and Galen were sources of inspiration. Mythological and historical figures such as Hygieia and Cleopatra also appeared prominently on the packaging and advertising. Today, some cosmetics are still produced exclusively with natural substances and their advertisements sometimes refer to ancient times.

This conference will offer an opportunity to approach cosmetics from an interdisciplinary perspective, incorporating elements from the disciplines of classics, ancient history, archaeology, bioarchaeology, pharmacy and pharmacology. Subject areas covered include but is not limited to the following:

- Literary and documentary evidence for cosmetics in ancient and historical periods
- Scientific analysis of ancient and historical cosmetics
- Reception of ancient cosmetics in later historical periods and in the contemporary world
- Experimental reconstruction of ancient and historical cosmetics

Can Creativity Save Us?

  • Darren Henley - Grand Challenges lecture
  • 24 January 2018

The pace and scale of global change can make us all as individuals feel powerless. From the shifting climate to technology that aggregates us as data, our future thinking is dogged by dystopian fear. But this is only one version of the future - there can be many others. In this talk, Darren Henley looks at how creativity - which precipitated these changes - can show us the way forward, and restore our power as individuals.

Darren Henley is Chief Executive of the Arts Council.

He previously spent twenty-five years working in radio, leading Classic FM for fifteen years, first as Managing Editor and then as Managing Director. He was appointed an OBE in 2013 for services to music. Darren has chaired or sat on a range of government advisory boards in the area of cultural education. His two independent government reviews into music education (2011) and cultural education (2012) resulted in the creation of England’s first National Plan for Music Education, new networks of Music Education Hubs and Heritage Schools, the Museums and Schools programme, the BFI Film Academy and the National Youth Dance Company.

He is the author or co-author of thirty books, including The Virtuous Circle: Why Creativity and Cultural Education Count. It argues that an excellent cultural education is the right of everyone, bringing personal, social and commercial advantages that can only benefit the lives of all individuals in our society. In 2016, Darren's most recent most recent book was published. The Arts Dividend: Why Investment in Culture Pays looks in depth at seven key benefits that art and culture bring to our lives.

Darren joined the Arts Council in 2015.