Audience at public lecture

Lancaster University Public Lecture Series

Experience the cutting edge of teaching and research with talk by experts

Lancaster University Public Lectures Series

Experience the cutting edge of teaching and research with talks by experts from Lancaster University.

The new academic year has begun and, while we are not able yet to welcome you back to enjoy our public events in person, we are delighted to let you know that Lancaster University’s Public Lecture Series will return from the 12 November 2020. The team has been working hard to bring the Series back on board, and we present to you a new theme for the series, ‘Talking about…’, and warmly invite you to join our researchers as they explore some of the most pressing issues facing the country. The talks will range from the vocabulary of the pandemic to education in lockdown, from new opportunities for criminals, challenges for business resilience, new ways of caring in our communities to using spaces and places differently.

In order to ensure the safety of our guests and speakers and following government guidance on social distancing, the 2020/2021 Lancaster University Public Lecture series has been moved online. As before, the lectures are open to all and you will have the opportunity to ask questions of the speakers, which will be answered during a live question and answer session that will take place at the end of the event. Each lecture will be recorded and you will have the opportunity to watch it on this very page as well as on Lancaster University’s YouTube Channel after the live event takes place.

For any questions about the Public Lectures Series or to join our mailing list get in touch with us at

Upcoming public lectures:

Talking about... the current health and wellbeing of vulnerable citizens

Date: Tuesday 11th May

Time : 6.30pm to 8pm

Broadcasting Platform: Zoom

Book your free ticket on Eventbrite

About the Lecture

How has Covid-19 affected the most vulnerable citizens in our country? Exploring data collected from care homes and the national charity Parkinson's UK, three experts from Lancaster University's Faculty of Health and Medicine discuss the impact of the pandemic and successive lockdowns on the health and wellbeing of frailer citizens, what lessons have been learned, and how best practice can be adopted in the future.

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on people affected by Parkinson’s

During the pandemic, those living with chronic health conditions have faced particular challenges, both due to the added risks of Covid-19 itself but also due to the impact of measures taken to reduce the spread, such as lockdown. Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative condition which causes problems with slowness of movement, balance and tremor and also a wide range of other difficulties including with sleep, temperature control, pain and fatigue. Psychological difficulties such as anxiety, depression and apathy are also commonly experienced as well as cognitive problems which can sometimes progress to dementia.

In order to highlight the impact of the pandemic period on people with Parkinson’s and their families and consider what support may be needed going forward, Professor Jane Simpson and Dr Fiona Eccles will present findings from a survey carried out by national charity Parkinson’s UK of their members (including family carers) in the first lockdown in April-May 2020, and interviews conducted with people with Parkinson’s at several timepoints during the pandemic.

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on people in Care Homes

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a major impact on adult social care. Deaths in care homes in England over the first wave of the pandemic rose to approximately 150% of the same period the previous year. There was large uncertainty over best practice for care homes over this period. How can we optimise care to ensure COVID outbreak risks are minimised, while also ensuring that residents receive the most appropriate care possible?

In this talk Professor Jo Knight discusses findings from data collected from care homes and hospitals supplied by County Durham and Darlington Foundation Trust, and the resulting most appropriate course of action in such situation, which will then be widely applicable to policy regarding infectious disease outbreaks and transmission, such as Norovirus, in care homes in the future. This work is part of the 12-month UKRI funded, 'Impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on care home pathways, outcomes and safety of care' project.

The lecture will be followed by a Q&A session during which you will have the opportunity to ask questions of the speakers via the Zoom Q&A function.

Accessibility: automatically generated subtitles will be available for this event.

To register for your free tickets, please go to Eventbrite

About the speakers

Professor Jane Simpson is Professor of the Psychology of Neurodegenerative Conditions at Lancaster University. As a clinical and academic psychologist, she conducts research to improve the wellbeing of individuals affected by chronic health conditions, and particular motor neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s. Jane and Fiona have recently received two grants worth over £200,000 from UK funders to continue the work included in the presentation to be shared during this lecture.

Dr Fiona Eccles trained as a clinical psychologist and now works as a Lecturer at Lancaster University with research interests in the psychological wellbeing of people with neurological conditions, particularly Parkinson’s, Huntington’s disease and dystonia. Along with Professor Simpson, she has recently edited guidance for the British Psychological Society on psychological interventions for four neurodegenerative conditions including Parkinson’s.

Professor Jo Knight is a Professor Applied Data Science at Lancaster University and the Research Director for Eden North. She uses routinely collected data to improve the health outcomes of the population. Her approaches are analytical and range from understanding triggers for disease to the utilisation of health services. She also undertakes research on the genetic underpinnings of diseases. The work she will discuss during the lecture is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

© Image by Pixabay

Talking about... spaces and places

Date: Tuesday 15th June

Time : 6.30pm to 8pm

Broadcasting Platform: Zoom

Book your free ticket on Eventbrite

About the Lecture

The pandemic has made us re-think our relationship with space, with new home-seekers demonstrating different priorities, including a desire for more garden and working space. But it's not just confined to spaces where we live. Our experts will explore our changing relationship with space, and the legacy of Covid-19 on the design, planning and use of social spaces.

What will you learn during this lecture?

⭐ How we can safely re-open spaces as we move out of lockdown.

⭐ How urban farming, including use of our own spaces, can lead to healthier and more sustainable lives.

⭐ How we can balance architectural innovation with human use.

The Spaces of Social Distancing – Spearheading a Generative Signage Pilot Study for Lancaster.

Head of Architecture, Des Fagan, spearheaded a unique, automated social distancing and way-finding model for businesses preparing to re-open safely in the post-pandemic recovery.

The new model, devised with the University’s new School of Architecture, uses algorithms, special design exploration processes, generative software, sympathetic signage, electronically created floorplans and heat tracking and mapping to inspire a safe environment for people. Working with Lancaster City Council, the project, funded through Beyond Imagination, a £13.2m Research England project at the University’s ImaginationLancaster, a design-led research laboratory, has gathered essential data on the way in which people use spaces in the pandemic.

The work will now form part of a further UKRI bid to provide the same methodology for the use of businesses at UK scale.

Filling our spaces with food growing places

Food plays a major role in our lives. It’s essential for health and well-being and brings us together socially and culturally and, during the successive UK lockdowns, more people turned to growing their own food.

How we grow our food is also critical for our environment: 1/3 of global greenhouse gas emissions are associated with food and agriculture, and our current ways of farming are a major driver of global biodiversity loss. Whilst food can be a great connector, arguably our society is more disconnected than ever from how food is grown and from the natural processes that support farming. In this talk Professor Jess Davies will consider if urban food growing offers us a solution: can growing more of what we eat nearer to where we live help us lead healthier more sustainable lives, and secure our fresh food supplies?

Space, Place and Behaviour in the Seattle Central Library

In the grips of Covid-19, the use of space has become incredibly important to many of us, as we yearn for familiar, communal spaces such as our local libraries. Professor Ruth Conroy Dalton will present a series of studies on the Seattle Central Library, an enigmatic and simultaneously problematic space.

While winning major accolades and awards, the internet and social media were awash with accounts of people becoming lost in the space, almost succumbing to panic attacks, or posting photographs of the confusing, temporary signs that librarians were forced to improvise shortly after the building opened. How can a building be considered a great architectural space whilst also a deeply problematic place to inhabit? This talk will strive to get to the bottom of this paradox and explore how we can balance architectural innovation with human use.

The lecture will be followed by a Q&A session during which you will have the opportunity to ask questions of the speakers via the Zoom Q&A function.

Accessibility: automatically generated subtitles will be available for this event.

To register for your free tickets, please go to Eventbrite

About the speakers

Des Fagan is Head of Architecture and member of ImaginationLancaster at Lancaster Institute for Contemporary Arts. Des’s field of interest inside engagement between industry, community and academia is on optimisation as an approach to problem-solving.

Professor Jess Davies is a Professor of Sustainability at Lancaster Environment Centre, and the Director of the Centre for Global Eco-innovation. She leads a number of research projects that focus on how we can make better use of our land and ensure soil sustainability.

Professor Ruth Conroy Dalton is a British architect, author and Head of Lancaster’s new School of Architecture. She has authored or contributed to more than 200 publications. She is an expert in space syntax analysis, pedestrian movement and wayfinding and a world-leading authority on the overlap between architecture and spatial cognition (architectural cognition).

© Image by Gábor Molnár (Unsplash)

Watch the videos of our past lectures

We are delighted to make these videos available for later viewings or for your own use. If you use these in your work or research, we would be grateful if you would credit the University and/or the speakers. Thank you.

Talking about resilience in life and work

In this lecture, a panel of academic and business experts explores the concepts of resilience and cooperation and illustrate how, in difficult times, creativity, agility and a willingness to collaborate can transcend cultural and organisational constraints and catapult a community into action.

Talking about children and education

What is school for? Are we saving ourselves at young people's expense? This lecture explores how the pandemic has led many to revisit the role and purpose of schools, revealed the challenges and opportunities of online learning and called for new policies to limit the loss of education for the current generation.

Talking about new perspectives on the NHS

How has the NHS changed in 2020, both in how it operates and how we talk about it? In this lecture, we explore how the covid-19 pandemic has affected the oncology workforce and their wellbeing, its hidden impact on child health, and how the NHS has emerged from it as a ‘quasi-religion’.

Talking about crime in the 'new world'

While most of the society struggled to adjust to lockdown life, how did others found it easier to adapt and respond to the new challenges faced within Criminal Justice and the Security sector and demonstrated quick, innovative action to very different issues posed by the pandemic?

Talking about public health, choices and inequalities

How has the pandemic impacted volunteering in palliative care and brought forward the concept of advance care planning? To what extend has Covid-19 highlighted the systemic issues that exist around access to nutritious, healthy food for a significant proportion of the UK population?

Talking about lockdown language

A battle, a tsunami or a raging fire... How are metaphors used to talk about Covid-19 and why should they be used sensitively? How has disinformation adapted to the pandemic and how do policymakers and educators develop strategies to stop the spread of falsehoods online?