2012 lectures online

Throughout the year, the University of Sussex is host to an exciting series of public lectures that illustrate the breadth and quality of research being conducted at the University.

Most lectures are recorded and made available here in a number of formats.

The beginnings of the sciences at the University of Sussex

03 December 2012
Speaker: Lord Briggs

The death of opera?

Professor Nicholas Till

20 November 2012
Speaker: Professor Nicholas Till, Professor of Opera and Music Theatre - School of Media, Film and Music

In the 1960s, the German musicologist Theodor Adorno pronounced that opera was an ‘eviscerated’ art form that didn’t know that it had died. Fifty years later, it continues to command a substantial tranche of Britain’s public arts budget. In this lecture, Professor Till will consider the historical implications of the death of opera, the social and cultural status of opera today and the creation of new forms of post-operatic music theatre.

More information about Professor Nicholas Till

Uniting States of Americans: from ‘I am an American’ to ‘We are the 99%’

Cynthia Weber

13 November 2012
Speaker: Cynthia Weber, Professor of International Relations - School of Global Studies

The eleventh anniversary of 9/11 and the first anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement provide occasion for reflecting on how these events, and the slogans they (re) popularized, unite and divide US citizens. Professor Weber, who has been exploring these questions through documentary film practice and, through a combination of lecture/film screening, will address where these 'uniting states' leave the contemporary United States.

More information about Cynthia Weber

From spider silk to Alzheimer’s disease: common threads in protein assembly

Professor Louise Serpell

06 November 2012
Speaker: Professor Louise Serpell, Professor of Biochemistry - School of Life Sciences

Proteins underlie all aspects of biological functions yet, on occasion, normal proteins can assemble to form amyloid fibrils. These fibrils can either be functional, in the case of silks, or pathological, in diseases such as Alzheimer’s. In this lecture, Professor Serpell will discuss her work aims: to understand protein self-assembly, how it leads to neurodegeneration and how it may be exploited as functional materials.

More information about Professor Louise Serpell

Smoke signals from the distant universe

Professor Seb Oliver

16 October 2012
Speaker: Professor Seb Oliver, Professor of Astrophysics - School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences

Our knowledge of the complex process of star formation is frustrated by enshrouding, smoke-like dust, obscuring the view of conventional telescopes. In this lecture, Professor Oliver will demonstrate how infrared cameras on telescopes in space can detect the signals from this ‘smoke’ and probe the underlying star formation in distant galaxies. He will show how maps of the sky have uncovered hundreds of thousands of distant galaxies and will discuss what we have learnt from these studies about star formation.

More information about Professor Seb Oliver

Spence, Sussex and the sixties

23 May 2012
Speaker: Professor Louise Campbell, University of Warwick

What is the significance of the University of Sussex's distinctive architecture and what were the ideas behind the design of the campus? In this lecture, Dr Campbell will discuss Sir Basil Spence's architectural vision and how it relates to the ambitions of those who founded Sussex, the first of the new universities of the sixties. Dr Campbell is an alumna of Sussex and co-author of the new book Basil Spence: Buildings and Projects (2012).

Re-visioning the gender agenda

Professor Andrea Cornwall

01 May 2012
Speaker: Professor Andrea Cornwall, Professor of Anthropology and Development - School of Global Studies

Sussex's activist academics of the 1970s played a major role in shaping what was to become international development's 'gender agenda'. The concept of gender was mobilised to highlight structural inequities and, by the 1990s, calls for 'gender equality' had been taken up across the development industry. Yet, in recent years 'gender' has quietly disappeared from development discourse, replaced by 'women's empowerment' and 'investing in women and girls'.

In this lecture, Professor Cornwall will reflect on this history, explore what 'gender' might have to offer feminists engaging with international development today and argue for a re-visioning of the 'gender agenda'.

More information about Professor Andrea Cornwall

Making ends meet: mutual strategies for maintaining genome stability

Professor Aidan Doherty

24 April 2012
Speaker: Professor Aidan Doherty, Professor of Biochemistry - School of Life Sciences

Our cells contain DNA, the blueprint of life which encodes the information for our genes. Its integrity is constantly challenged by damaging agents including radiation and genotoxic chemicals; even the oxygen we breathe can compromise its structure, leading to genome instability and the onset of diseases such as cancer. To counteract DNA damage and maintain genome stability, cells have evolved a myriad of strategies for repairing specific genetic lesions.

In this lecture, Professor Doherty will explore our current understanding of the onset of human disease and how evolutionary processes also protect human cells from genotoxic agents. He will also discuss why studying DNA repair pathways is so important for understanding the onset and treatment of human diseases and what potential it may have for developing treatments.

More information about Professor Aidan Doherty

Outsourcing, offshoring and the global factory

Professor Roger Strange

13 March 2012
Speaker: Professor Roger Strange, Professor of International Business - School of Business, Management and Economics

Thirty years ago, the advanced economies of North America, Western Europe and Japan accounted for a large percentage of world GDP, trade and foreign direct investment. In 2012, an increasing proportion of global economic activity is taking place in the emerging economies. The causes of this seismic shift are well documented, but who owns and controls this ‘global factory’?

This lecture will look at the possibility that firms from the advanced economies have offshored many of their value chain activities to the emerging economies, which has possibly been accompanied by an outsourcing (externalisation) of some of the value chain activities to independent suppliers. Such externalisation involves not only a physical ‘slicing-up’ of the value chain and a change in its ownership, but often control still resides with the ‘lead’ firm. The ‘global factory’ concept is very much a reality, notwithstanding the absence of central ownership. Professor Strange will ask what the reasons are for the growth of outsourcing over the past 30 years and consider implications of this trend.

More information about Professor Roger Strange

Issues in Criminal Justice Lecture

Nick Hardwick

29 February 2012
Speaker: Nick Hardwick, CBE

The arts of looking

Professor Vicky Lebeau

21 February 2012
Speaker: Professor Vicky Lebeau, Professor of English - School of English

Is there an art to looking? Both visual culture and visual theory are today in a state of accelerated change, making new demands on our understanding of the relations between mind and medium, visual and verbal, stillness and movement.

This lecture asks if, and how, an 'art of looking' can help us to explore what it means to live a human – or, more strongly, a humane – life at the beginning of the 21st century.

More information about Professor Vicky Lebeau

Professorial lecture: Robots like us

Professor Owen Holland

07 February 2012
Speaker: Professor Owen Holland, Professor of Cognitive Robotics - School of Engineering and Informatics

The earliest robots were fictional creations. They were intended as substitutes for human beings and their physical form mimicked that of humans. When robotic replacements for humans in industry were eventually developed, their form was entirely subordinated to function and any connection with human morphology was lost. The last two decades have seen a revival of interest in human-like robots. Although some of this work has been dedicated to the technical goal of building better robots, other work has had a new and scientific focus: the use of robots as tools for studying human cognition.

This lecture will trace the roots of this enterprise and will explore its brief history, its current status and its probable future development. Will it ever be possible to build a robot with human-like intelligence? And will it ever be possible to build a robot that is conscious like us?

More information about Professor Owen Holland

Professorial lecture: Connect-disconnect: stories from the jagged edge

Professor Katy Gardner

31 January 2012
Speaker: Professor Katy Gardner, Professor of Anthropology - School of Global Studies

How do processes of globalisation articulate with the complex histories, hierarchies and cultures in places where development and modernity have a faltering and uneven reach?

‘Duniyapur’ in Bangladesh has a long history of globalisation, an example being transnational migration to the UK. For some, successful connections have led to wealth, whereas others have either never been able to connect or have been abruptly disconnected, returning to the wrong side of global capitalism’s ‘jagged edge’.

Based on long-term ethnographic research, this lecture tells the stories of people who constantly struggle to make a connection to sources of global capital or to the social relationships which help them survive. As these stories demonstrate, ‘development’ may be thought of as a process whereby connections to resources and employment are secure, formalised and enshrined as ‘rights’, rather than based on informal social capital.

More information about Professor Katy Gardner