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Human Evolution and the 21st Century Town
Friday 21st February 2014
UCL Institute of Archaeology
The town is not our natural habitat. For most of the last three million years, we evolved as hunter-gatherers, living off the land in small kin-groups and tribal societies, developing a working relationship with nature. Culturally, we are still adapting to urbanized living: our technologies, towns, economies and societies have developed at a remarkable speed. Anatomically, however, we have not evolved at the same electric pace: genetically, we remain much as we were before towns developed, or even before large-scale farming was adopted 5,000-10,000 years ago.
Today’s cities accommodate a global population of some 3.4 billion: there is therefore a profound dichotomy between the world we currently live in, and the one we were genetically, metabolically, physiologically and psychologically designed for. We can’t uninvent towns, nor do we wish to, but city life is, superficially, the very antithesis of the hunter-gatherers’ world.
There is a possible solution, however. It lies in the adoption of proxy behaviours, environments and townscapes that mimic elements of the nutrition, daily activity, social interaction and engagement with the environment that best fit the evolutionary demands of our minds and bodies. Through applied studies, such proxy behaviours could be brought together to form a coherent protocol applied to 21st-century townscapes and urban life-styles. We call this approach the Eden Protocol, a short-hand term for the Evolutionary Determinants of health, social interaction and urban wellbeing. By facilitating the associated behavourial changes, urban wellbeing and social cohesion might be quantifiably improved, and National Health Service costs diminished. The better our urban and societal surroundings simulate our “natural habitat”, and the better our behaviours match our biology, the healthier we urban creatures will be.
Please note: There is no charge for delegates, but places are limited and so pre-booking is essential.
- View the conference programme
- Visit the eventbrite page for more details and to book a place
- The urban paradox event is supported by a Grand Challenge of Human Wellbeing Small Grant
- Find out more about the Evolutionary Determinants of Health programme
Throughout 2014 the Development Planning Unit (DPU) will be celebrating 60 years of education, training, research, consultancy and knowledge sharing. The DPU’s focus is on urban development and planning in what is now often referred to as ‘the global south’.
Open lectures covering a wide range of ideas in architecture, design, technology, history and theory. Link…
Lectures, seminars and workshops on topics in the news within London planning. Link…
Weekly seminars in which UCL CASA PhD students, research fellows, honorary staff and visitors present their latest work. Link…
Bite-sized opportunities to sample the exceptional research work taking place at UCL. Link…
Page last modified on 03 feb 14 15:43