Darwin College Lecture Series

Darwin Lecture Series audience

2022 Lecture Series - Food

Bhaskar Vira

The Political Economy of Conservation and Food Security

Martin Jones

Archaeology and Discovering the Food of the Past

Melissa Calaresu

Food and Cultural History

Alex Rushmer

Food as Expression

Richard Parmee

X-Rays and Food Safety

Sarah Mukherjee

Food, Power & Society

Andrew Knight

Should Cats and Dogs Go Vegan?

Sarah Bridle

Food and Climate Change

Featured Lecture

Adam Rutherford 'Human Origins' Lecture

Adam Rutherford talks about 'Human Origins' in the 2020 Lecture Series 'Enigmas'. Click on 'Featured Lecture' to play.

Darwin College plans to hold the 2022 Darwin College lecture series in person whenever possible. Lectures will take place at Lady Mitchell Hall and Little Hall, Sidgwick Avenue.

Lectures will also be live-streamed on this page https://www.darwin.cam.ac.uk/lectures

Should the Government or the University of Cambridge place restrictions on such events taking place, the lectures will only be live-streamed. Our webpage will be regularly updated so PLEASE do check this page before setting out to attend the lectures.

Since 1986 in the second term of every academic year Darwin College has organised a series of eight public lectures. Each series has been built around a single theme, approached in a multi-disciplinary way, and with each lecture prepared for a general audience by a leading authority on his or her subject.

The Darwin College Lectures are very popular, each attended by around 600 people, so you must arrive early to ensure a place. Stewards at the door follow a strict admissions policy to ensure fairness. An adjacent overflow theatre (with live TV coverage) is provided for those who cannot be seated in the main hall.

For covid safety information and our admittance policy follow this link.

Upcoming Lectures

On Escaping or Not Escaping Solitude. Persian Tales of Turtles and Pearls - Dr Christine van Ruymbeke, University of Cambridge
Narratives speak volumes. As remarked by the philosopher Hannah Arendt, they are the only possible medium to express the complexity of philosophical or other conundrums. Often, the reader's effort to decode them, that is: the exercise itself, contains the pedagogy. This presentation examines two great Medieval Persian narrative works: the Book of Kalila and Dimna ( کتاب کليله و دمنه Ketab-e Kalile-o Demne) by Nasrollah Monshi and the Seven Portraits ( هفت پيکرHaft Paykar) composed by Nezami Ganjavi.
Lady Mitchell Hall, Sidgwick Avenue
The Isolation of Asylum Seekers: immigration detention in Australia - Dr Amy Nethery, Deakin University
Australia's policy of mandatory, indefinite and unreviewable immigration detention was introduced in the early 1990s to respond to the arrival of asylum seekers by boat. The policy persists despite its failure to deliver policy goals, vast expense, international condemnation, and human damage. What explains this persistence? In this essay, I argue that immigration detention is best understood as the most recent iteration of administrative detention, a form of non-judicial incarceration with a long history.
Lady Mitchell Hall, Sidgwick Avenue
The Closeting of Secrets - Professor Adrian Kent, University of Cambridge
The definition and properties of information may seem to be fundamental features of the world that are independent of how particles, fields and space-time behave. In fact, though, information is fundamentally physical and twentieth century physics has radically changed our understanding of its nature and properties. Einstein's relativity theories tell us that information cannot travel faster than the speed of light in vacuum.
Lady Mitchell Hall, Sidgwick Avenue
Antarctica:Isolated Continent - Professor Dame Jane Francis, British Antarctic Survey
Continents as we know them today emerged as a consequence of the mechanism of plate tectonics, which led to the fragmentation of a super-continent. One such fragment, the Antarctica, now is in the ocean at the South Pole, covered in thick ice-sheets that contrast with its long-past history where it was adorned by forests and inhabited by animals including dinosaurs. It was the natural processes that buried carbon dioxide that led to the glaciation of Antarctica. The burning of fossil fuels is now having an opposite effect, causing the depletion of the ice at a remarkable rate.
Lady Mitchell Hall, Sidgwick Avenue
Isolation and Trapping using Optical Tweezers - Professor Philip Jones, University College London
In 2018 Arthur Ashkin was awarded a half share of that year's Nobel Prize in Physics "for the optical tweezers and their application to biological systems". The work for which he was recognised had its origins more than thirty years before, and in the years since their invention, the uses of optical tweezers have grown far beyond biological systems, with numerous diverse applications across the chemical and physical sciences also.
Lady Mitchell Hall, Sidgwick Avenue
Are we alone in the Universe - Dr Arik Kershenbaum, University of Cambridge
Is there intelligent life elsewhere in the universe? If not, does that mean that we humans are utterly alone in creation? Recent technological developments make the discovery of life on other planets almost expected within the coming decades. But most of the inhabited planets we hope to discover may well be populated by no more than alien bacteria. Will that make us feel any less alone? What we really hope to find are aliens with whom we can communicate and hold a conversation.
Lady Mitchell Hall, Sidgwick Avenue
The Self-Imposed Isolation of North Korea - Professor Heonik Kwon, University of Cambridge
North Korea is one of the most secluded societies in today's world. Its system of rule is often referred to as an enigma of modern politics. This essay asks what has caused this condition of extreme isolation, highlighting the relentless pursuit of a historically durable charismatic political power. The discussion will include Max Weber's thoughts on the place of charismatic power in modern politics.
Lady Mitchell Hall, Sidgwick Avenue
Isolation in International Relations - Professor Amrita Narlikar, German Institute for Global and Area Studies
Since the end of the Second World War, diverse aspects of International Relations (IR) - including foreign policy, global governance, negotiation studies, and political economy - have been guided by an understanding that if markets were kept open, and states and their peoples interconnected, both prosperity and peace would stand a far better chance. In contrast, isolation - or its translation into a national strategy, isolationism - is often treated as a profanity in both the study as well as the practice of IR. In my Darwin lecture, I offer a different perspective.
Lady Mitchell Hall, Sidgwick Avenue

Past Lectures

Claire Roddie

Battle Blood

Sara Read

Transitional Bleeding in Early Modern England

Tim Pedley

Blood in Motion: The Physics of Blood Flow

Carol Senf

Dracula, Vampires and the New Woman

Rose George

Blood Villains and Heroes

Walter Bodmer

Bloodlines of the British

Marc Quinn

Blood Sculptures

Sean Carroll

Mysteries of Modern Physics”

Jo Marchant

Decoding the Heavens: The Antikythera Mechanism

Tiffany Watt Smith

The Enigma of Emotion

Erik Kwakkel

The Enigmatic Premodern Book

Tamsin Mather

Eruptions, Emissions and Enigmas: from fuming volcanic vents to mass extinction events”

Albert Yu-Min Lin

Archaeological Mysteries

Watch all past Lectures

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