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Hear from our Professors at the next Inaugural Lecture event

Loughborough University extends a warm welcome for everyone to attend these engaging public events, delivered by its Professors on campus.

The next event of the series will take place on Wednesday 15 May, covering the following topics:

  • How sticky is Earth – and does it matter? – Professor Dan Parsons, School of Social Sciences and Humanities

Our coasts, estuaries and river environments are among the systems most sensitive to sea-level rise and environmental change. To manage them, we need to be able to predict how they will change under various scenarios.

However, our models are not yet robust enough to predict too far into the future. In addition, we need to improve how we use our understanding of modern environments to reconstruct paleo-environments. Significant assumptions have been made in the way in which we interpret ancient rocks and the conditions on Earth when they were deposited.

One reason our models and interpretations are lacking is that they assume that these riverine, estuarine and coastal systems are composed of non-cohesive sands and that nothing sticky exists. However, sticky mud is the most common sediment on Earth and many of these systems are dominated by biologically active muds and complex sediment mixtures that are inherently sticky.

Professor Parson’s lecture will illustrate just how important such abiotic-biotic interactions are and present a concept of ‘peak stickiness’ before exploring what happens during biodiversity crises and mass extinction events in Earth's geological history.

  • Disaster risk reduction or disaster risk production? The folly of devising a technocratic solution to a socio-political problem – Professor Ksenia Chmutina, School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering

Rarely, a day goes by without news of an earthquake devastating a city, a flood inundating a community or unprecedented temperatures afflicting a region.

The images of people losing everything, including their lives, are accompanied by reporters and politicians referring to these disasters as “unexpected” and “shocking”, but “unavoidable” and “natural” events to which we must adapt.

But are these types of disasters really ‘natural’? Disasters don’t just cause suffering, they expose it. Those who are most marginalised in our societies are most harmed by them. However, for them, a disaster is not a sudden or unexpected danger. It is a continuation of everyday harm inflicted on them but framing disasters as ‘natural’ obscures this fact.

In her inaugural lecture, Professor Chmutina will explain why, instead of being ‘natural’ events, disasters are a reflection and a manifestation of an unjust society. She will explore why many disaster risk reduction and resilience-building efforts actually re-construct the risk and re-create, even exacerbate, inequalities that eventually lead to further disaster. She will offer ways in which we can resist disaster risk creation through dialogue, empathy and humility, as well as the recognition of our collective ties, interconnections and vulnerabilities.

All lectures begin at 5pm and take place in EHB110b, Edward Herbert Building, with registration from 4.30pm. For more information about the venue, including photographs, view the access guide for EHB on AccessAble.

The Professors will be available for questions and further discussion at a drinks reception after the lectures.

Register for the 15 May Inaugural Lecture event and read full details about the series. The final event of this year’s series will take place on 12 June.