Urban Paradox: human evolution and the 21st-century town

Start: Feb 21, 2014 10:00 AM
End: Feb 21, 2014 05:00 PM

Location: Archaeology Lecture Theatre G6, UCL Institute of Archaeology

EDEN Protocol: Evolutionary Determinants of Health and Urban Wellbeing

The inaugural conference of the Evolutionary Determinants of Health and Urban Wellbeing group will be held at the Institute on 21 February 2014.

The town is not our natural habitat. For most of the last four million years or more, we and our immediate ancestors survived as hunter-gathers, living off the land in small tribal societies, working closely with nature.  Culturally, we are 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 as we were before towns developed, or even before large-scale farming was adopted some 5,000-10,000 years ago.

Today’s cities accommodate a globally 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.

The Ove Arup Foundation

The conference, which is organised with support from the Ove Arup Foundation and UCL Grand Challenges, will look at issues relating to human evolution and the 21st-century town including:

  • the Social Determinants of Health
  • the Healthy Cities movement
  • planning for human locomotion in cities
  • planning for urban greenspace
  • containing urban crime through sport
UCL Grand Challenges

Admission is free but places are limited so pre-booking is essential. Register here»


9.15-9.50 Registration/Welcome

Session 1: 10.00-11.15
  • Brave old world: evolutionary determinants of health in the modern world (Gustav Milne, UCL Institute of Archaeology)
  • Becoming human: deep evolutionary perspectives on human behaviour (Matt Pope, UCL Institute of Archaeology)
  • Backwards and forwards: towards a "palaeolithically-correct" behavioural science (Ben Gardner, UCL Health Behaviour Research Centre)

11.15-11.45 Tea/coffee/discussion

Session 2: 11.45-1.00
  • School dinners: introducing an evolutionary perpective in inner-city schools (Emma Karoune, UCL Institute of Archaeology)
  • Play time: football, crimes and urban gangs (Samir Singh, Arsenal in the Community)
  • Building for humans: architecture and human evolution (Bob Allies, Allies & Morrison Architects, London SE1)

1.00-1.45 Lunch

Session 3: 1.45-3.00
  • Healthy cities: urban design from a human evolutionary perspective (Ian Scott, UCL Grand Challenges)
  • Greening the city: a physiological and psychological necessity (Jemima Stockton, UCL Dept of Public Health and Epidemiology)
  • Greening the city:a biological necessity (Graham Rook, UCL Dept of Microbiology)

3.00-3.30 Tea/coffee/discussion

Session 4: 3.30-5.00
  • A life less sedentary: making the office work harder (Abi Fisher, UCL Active Buildings project)
  • Access all areas? Social inequality and urban transport issues (Nicola Christie, UCL Transport Institute)
  • Two legs good, four wheels bad? Planning for human locomotion in the 21st century town (Paola Spivach, Senior Urban Designer, SUSTRANS)

5.00 Reception

Further information is available on the EDEN Protocol website or by email to EDENinfo@ucl.ac.uk