UCL Institute for Global Prosperity


Soundbites and Director's Seminars

The Soundbites and Director's Seminars series are public events hosted by the UCL Institute for Global Prosperity, and open to all.

IGP Soundbites and Seminars

The Soundbites and Director's Seminars series are public events hosted by the UCL Institute for Global Prosperity, and open to all. Each series features both Seminars and Soundbites, mixed intermittently. 

Soundbites are a platform for professionals and entrepreneurs who are leading in their field. Speakers are innovators and inspiring actors working in new and traditional sectors, outside of academia. The Soundbite gives the audience an insight into how their organisation contributes to sustainable and inclusive prosperity.

The Director's Seminars are an opportunity for audiences to get an in-depth theoretical perspective on sustainable and inclusive prosperity. These Seminars are given by academics who are pushing for new ways of thinking and new ways of researching society's grand challenges.

Visit our Events List for the full list of our upcoming events 

Recordings of previous seminars are available on our YouTube channel

2024 Spring Series

Deliberative democracy: Rethinking democracy for 21st century prosperity

Democratic systems are facing challenges, with a disconnect between local and national systems. However, we are witnessing the rise of populism, post-truth movements, growing inequalities, and a lack of trust in politics and political systems. At the same time, we can observe a flourishing of local activism and the emergence of deliberative and participatory forms of democracy at the community level. By examining theory and practice alongside leading scholars and practitioners, this series of seminars and soundbites will address significant questions in ongoing debates about the structure and evolution of democratic futures. It seeks to explore how we can re- imagine democracy for the 21st century and design democratic and deliberative systems that are suited to the challenges we currently face.

This series provides a thought-provoking exploration of the contemporary discussions surrounding deliberative democracy's structure and form, as well as the possibilities for renewing democracy. It aims to stimulate critical thinking and foster open dialogues regarding the challenges confronting us.


Director's Seminars

Events archive:

Autumn 2023

2023 Autumn Series - Cultural Spaces for Democratic Participation, Political Expression and Shared Prosperity

This Director’s Seminars and Soundbites series explores how citizens mobilize new physical and digital channels of political participation, and what can be done to create and adapt these cultural spaces so as they make positive impact on democratic life in the 21st Century.

On the one hand, conventional forms of political participation, such as elections and party politics, have suffered from disengagement, disinformation, political polarization, and a growing distance between citizens and their elected representatives. On the other, citizens continuously reframe the boundaries of democratic politics by creating alternative outlets for democratic participation. These unconventional forms of political expression, which include physical and online collective action, street protest, subversion and activism, have become key channels of deliberation and alternative engagement, for younger generations in particular.

The series will examine how physical and online cultural and artistic spaces, such as cultural centres, parks, public libraries, social media platforms and metaverses, can channel that bottom-up political energy, become vectors of political expression and feed into wider political debates, as well as what policies, experiments and designs are needed to support the new forms of democratic participation.

Director's Seminars

5 October, 16.30-18.00: How can we adapt our prosperity thinking for the challenges of the 21st Century? A panel with Professor Jo Beall (LSE), Dr Matthew Davies (University of Cambridge), Dr Marit Hammond (Keele University) and Dr Ruth Yeoman (Kellogg College, University of Oxford).

19 October, 16.30-18.00: Value struggles in the foundational economy: traditional retail markets as commercial property, regeneration opportunity or key provisioning sites?, Professor Sara Gonzalez and Dr Myfanwy Taylor (University of Leeds)

2 November, 16.30-18.00: The Right to Apathy? Seminar with Professor Renata Salecl (Birkbeck University of London)

23 November, 16.30-18.00: Telling ‘graphic’ stories about climate change: representing lived experience from below, Dr Gemma Sou (University of Manchester)

7 December, 16.30-18.00: The politics of improvement: beginning to make things work, Professor Karel Williams (University of Manchester)


12 October, 13.00-14.00: Art for All: promoting belonging and equity through art in the digital age, Lindsay O'Leary (Tate)

26 October, 13.00-14.00: The Sacred and the System, Lucia Pietroiusti (Head of Ecologies at Serpentine, London)

16 November, 13.00-14.00: Embedding culture in planning and urban development: The story of London's creative industries, Tom Campbell (Former Head of Creative Industries at the London Development Agency) 

30 November, 13.00-14.00: Impunity and accountability: restricting protest rights through the back door, Katy Watts (Liberty Human Rights Organisation)

14 December, 12.00-13.00: Social and ethical challenges of the metaverse, Richard Benjamins (Telefonica)

Spring 2023

2023 Spring Series - Prosperity and the Popular

This seminar series looks at the radical potential of ‘the popular’. We start from the view that the social and cultural relations, meanings and artefacts that hold communities together are a platform for critical ideas and strategies that can advance prosperity and inclusion. This perspective is vital at the current historical conjuncture in which multiple crises are creating the conditions for authoritarian populism to take advantage of exclusion and poverty, despite ostensibly promising to remedy the gulf between ‘the people’ and ‘elites.’


12 January, 13.00-14.00: Immediate Theatre: Telling untold stories, Jo Carter (Immediate Theatre)

26 January, 13.00-14.00: Popular culture and understanding prosperity, inclusion and equity: A conversation, Angela Jansen (Research Collective for Decoloniality and Fashion)

9 February, 13.00-14.00: Embedding culture in planning and sustainable urban development: The transformational power of the creative industries, Tom Campbell (Former Head of Creative Industries at the London Development Agency) THIS EVENT IS CANCELLED AS IT COINCIDES WITH UCU STRIKE ACTION

2 March, 13.00-14.00: The making of 'Stories of Pang Jai', Jimmy Lo (Documentary filmmaker) 

16 March, 13.00-14.00: Telling ‘graphic’ stories about climate change: representing lived experience from below, Gemma Sou (University of Manchester)

Director's Seminars:

19 January, 16.30-18.00: Pass the parcel: prosperity, populism and the anti-equalities agenda, Jo Littler (City, University of London)

2 February, 16.30-18.00: Overstandin: A southern methodology, Jaspal Naveel Singh (The Open University)

23 February, 16.30-18.00: Rethinking traditional markets as provisioning sites in an inclusive economy: insights and contributions from the Markets4People project, Sara Gonzalez (University of Leeds) and Myfanwy Taylor (University College London) THIS EVENT IS CANCELLED AS IT COINCIDES WITH UCU STRIKE ACTION

9 March, 16.30-18.00: Post-pandemic hybrid experiments: Collaborative, creative methods for making prosperous futures, Beckie Coleman (Bristol University)

23 March, 16.30-18.00: Looking for sustança: food practices and food insecurity in Brazilian urban peripheries under COVID-19, Gareth Jones, Aiko Akemura and Mara Noguera (London School of Economics)

Autumn 2022

2022 Autumn Series - Entrepreneurship and Prosperity in Extreme Contexts

We are currently living in times that Peter Atwater in his 2021 Financial Times article, referred to as ‘normalized unprecedentedness’, where extreme events such as increased humanitarian crises, a global health crisis, a cost of living crisis and extreme weather conditions are becoming the norm. These unprecedented occurrences and shocks are happening at such an accelerated pace that they are, as Atwater highlights, becoming our ‘new normal’. These accumulating and interrelated crises create extreme conditions and exert further strain on society. How do we create a path to prosperity in such conditions? This series presents cutting-edge approaches to these challenges from an entrepreneurial perspective. Contributors are leading thinkers, both academic and otherwise, who problematise current assumptions and proffer new ways of thinking and doing to generate prosperity.

Director's Seminars:

6 October, 16.30-18.00: Complying in the ‘right’ way: Competing fiscal rationales in highland Bolivia and the problem of ‘compliance’ in tax studies, Dr Miranda Sheild Johansson (Anthropology, UCL)

20 October, 16.30-18.00: Standing on the shoulders of giants. Connecting current and past research on Grand Challenges, Silvia Dorado-Banacloche (University of Massachusetts Boston)

3 November, 16.30-18.00: Recalibrating entrepreneurship: Myths, fads, and the need to embrace the pluralism of entrepreneurial activity, Pablo Munoz (Durham University Business School)

24 November, 16.30-18.00: Entrepreneurship in Chronic Adversity, Ramzi Fathallah (Telfer School of Management, University of Ottawa) THIS EVENT IS CANCELLED AS IT COINCIDES WITH UCU STRIKE ACTION

8 December, 16.30-18.00: Community Entrepreneurship in a Challenged World: Lessons from Fogo Island, Natalie Slawinski (Gustavson School of Business, University of Victoria)


13 October, 13.00-14.00: Panel discussion: Responsibly fostering prosperity in Asia through entrepreneurship and technology (Part of the Asia Prosperity Research Hub launch)

27 October, 13.00-14.00: Creating Prosperity in Society-the case of AMAATI, Salma Abdulai (AMAATI)

17 November, 13.00-14.00: Purpose Driven Innovation for building our Future Civilization , Christian Schmitz (Purpose Driven Innovation Ecosystem Group)

1 December, 13.00-14.00: Farm diversification and land-management for a climate-positive future: building a new rural incubator model at an upland farm, Antonia Boyce

15 December, 13.00-14.00: My commitment to the world – Using technology for Good, Dimitris Vassiliadis

Spring 2022

2022 Spring Series: Modelling Natural Prosperity for the Future

The complex interactions and outcomes that characterise the global climatic and ecological crises require sophisticated modelling, monitoring and measurement across different temporal, spatial and human scales, including governance and policy regimes. This series show-cases cutting edge approaches to climatic and ecological modelling from a range of interdicisplinary perspectives and leading thinkers, both academic and otherwise. The series asks how diverse approaches may be integrated and actioned to generate effective policy responses and forms of natural prosperity. 


13 January, 13.00-14.00: Modeling action on climate change for natural prosperity, Andreas Gieges (Climate Analytics)

27 January, 13.00-14.00: Modelling Climate Change Solutions for Natural Prosperity, Jamie Beck Alexander (Project Draw Down)

10 February, 13.00-14.00: Pollinators, productivity and pesticide use in urban farming: a citizen science approach, Dr Beth Nicholls (University of Sussex)

3 March, 13.00-14.00: Symbiotic Urbanisation for Mutual Prosperity, Sarah Ichioka (Desire Lines)

17 March, 13.00-14.00: Environmental Land Management, and the Landscape Recovery scheme, Dr Kieron Stanley (Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)

Director's Seminars:

20 January, 16.30-18.00: Polar observation and earth modelling; future changes and natural prosperity, Prof. Julienne Stroeve (UCL Earth Sciences)

3 February, 16.30-18.00: Natural Capital, Ecosystem Services, and Sustainable Wellbeing, Prof. Robert Costanza (UCL Institute for Global Prosperity)

24 February, 16.30-18.00: Food systems for planetary prosperity and human health, Prof. Peter Jackson (Sheffield Institute for Sustainable Food)

10 March, 16.30-18.00: Indigenous Environmental History and Its Relevance to Future Prosperity, Prof. Joy Porter (University of Hull)

24 March, 16.30-18.00: CANCELLED Shifting understandings of urban prosperity in the post-Covid era (Joint event with The Bartlett Development Planning Unit

Autumn 2021

2021 Autumn Series: Rethinking how we finance prosperity


7 October, 13.00-14.00: Co-producing financially inclusive systems for a sustainable and just world, Sian Williams (Toynbee Hall)

21 October, 13.00-14.00: Power and purpose: transforming the UK financial system for people and planet, Jesse Griffiths (The Finance Innovation Lab)

4 November, 13.00-14.00: Raising community finance to repower London, Afsheen Kabir Rashid (Repowering)

25 November, 13.00-14.00: Open Banking, Money Management and Mental Health, Bailey Kursar (Touco Lab)

9 December, Financialisation and the Care Crisis, Adrienne Buller (Common Wealth). CANCELLED

Director's Seminars: 

14 October, 16.00-18.00: The digital refugee economy: an opportunity to leapfrog towards prosperity? Andreas Hackl (University of Edinburgh)

28 October, 16.00-18.00: The Wall Street Consensus at COP26: building a private finance system for net zero, Daniela Gabor (UWE Bristol)

18 November, 16.00-18.00: Rentiers of the Green Economy? Rethinking Finance and Ownership Models for a Low-Carbon Transition, Sarah Knuth (Durham University)

2 December, 16.00-18.00: Minimising pain, maximising joy: what is prosperity in a world of dispossession, disposability and violence? Gargi Bhattacharyya (University of East London) THIS EVENT IS CANCELLED AS IT COINCIDES WITH UCU STRIKE ACTION

16 December, 16.00-18.00: Joint event with The Bartlett Development Planning Unit on Zoonoses

Spring 2021

Spring Series: Inclusive and Regenerative Economies


Thursday 14 January, 13.00-14.00: Locally led experimentation: Testing components of Universal Basic Services, Sarah Dew (Camden Council)

Thursday 28 January, 13.00-14.00: Local actions to deliver more inclusive economic growth, Mike Hawking (Joseph Rowntree Foundation)

Thursday 11 February, 13.00-14.00: Beavering away– using the power of nature to underpin sustainable rural business, Archie Ruggles-Brise (Spains Hall Estate)

Thursday 4 March, 13.00-14.00: The urgent need for new models of affordable housing: Learning lessons from London’s Olympic Park, Dr Penny Bernstock

Thursday 18 March, 13.00-14.00: Organic Economies in Africa, Keith Tyrell (Pesticide Action UK)

Director's Seminars: 

Thursday 21 January, 16.00-18.00: Inclusive Development Futures, Dr. Indrajit Roy (University of York)

Thursday 4 February, 16.00-18.00: Levelling up our communities: proposals for a new covenant, Danny Kruger MP

Thursday 25 February, 16.00-18.00: Delivering a jobs-rich recovery - with Anneliese Dodds MP

Thursday 11 March, 16.00-18.00: Places of Hope: Using the Deep Place approach for socially, economically, environmentally and culturally sustainable places, Dr Mark Lang (Centre for Deep Place Strategies)

Thursday 25 March, 16.00-18.00: Futuregen: Lessons from a Small Country, Dr Jane Davidson (University of Wales Trinity Saint David)

Autumn 2020


15.10.20: Joana Dabaj (CatalyticAction)

29.10.20: Universal Basic Services (Andrew Percy)

9.11.20: How addressing racism in organizations leads to positive change for the way they function, Dr. Jonathan Ashong-Lamptey

3.12.20: Inclusive Economy: a localist perspective, Nick Kimber 

17.12.20: Sir Simon Woolley CBE

Directors Seminars:

8.10.20: Rebuilding economics post-covid, Dr Ruth Yeoman (University of Oxford)

22.10.20: The role of community engagement in speeding up post-covid recovery, Dr Rochelle Burgess (Institute for Global Health at UCL)

5.11.20: Health economics post-covid, Professor Andrew Oswald (University of Warwick)

26.11.20: Work, livelihoods and welfare post-covid, Torsten Bell (Resolution Foundation)

10.12.20: The future of sustainable business, Professor Gail Whiteman (Cambridge Centre for Climate Change Mitigation Research)

Spring 2020


16.01.20 Averting The Zombie Apocalypse: How planning is killing us and how prototyping will save us

30.01.20 Stimulating Innovation for Prosperity

13.02.20 Applying the rating agency model to financial crime

Director's Seminars

23.01.20 Inclusion on the Edge: Digital Labour and the Social Contract in Nigeria

06.02.20 Shadowy Conjunctions. Biometrics in counter-terror and beneficiary registration: the case of Somalia

27.02.20 Frugality, frugal innovation and 'a good life for all within planetary boundaries'

Autumn 2019


03.10.19 The Scramble for Data: How & Why Surveillance Is Being Exported

17.10.19 AI and Human Rights Investigations

31.10.19 Innovating Bold, Fast and Responsibly: How to Resolve the Tension Between Growth and Responsibility in the Digital Economy

21.11.19 Data, Power and Consent in Humanitarian Support

05.12.19 Check Global: Building a Digital Literacy Network Across the World

Director's Seminars

10.10.19 Professor Homi Bhabha, On Global Perplexity and Global Prosperity: Migration and Dignity

24.10.19 Migration, Globalisation, Work and Poverty

14.11.19 Performing Rights: Contemporary Art, the Refugee Condition, and the Alibi of Engagement

12.12.19 Climate Change Politics in Urban Environments

Spring 2019


10th January, Food Sovereignty and the Land Workers' Alliance, Jyoti Fernandes, The Land Workers' Alliance

24th January, Ethical Trade, Sarah Roberts, Ethical Tea Partnership 

7th February, The Climate Disclosure Project, Carbon Disclosure Project

28th February, How do we fix the food waste problem? Claire KnellerWaste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP)

14th March, Are Cities the Farms of the Future? Dr Jens ThomasFarm Urban 

Director's Seminars

17th January, Transformative Agroecology: beyond sustainable intensification, Dr Graham Woodgate, UCL Institute of the Americas

31st January, Most Farmers are Subsistence Farmers: How industrial farming is driving monoculture from our gut biomes to our landscapes, and making us sicker and poorer in the process, Shane Holland, Slow Food London

21st February, Why are food systems failing diet-related ill-health - and what can be done about it? Professor Corinna Hawkes, Centre for Food Policy, City University 

7th March, The work of the London Food Board, Claire Pritchard, London Food Board 

21st March, Digital Food Activism: Reframing Food Politics? Dr Catherine Dolan, Oxford Food Governance Group and Department of Anthropology, SOAS

Autumn 2018


4th October

Will the London National Park City really change anything? Dan Raven-Ellison, Guerrilla Geographer, National Geographic Explorer, founder of campaign to make London a National Park City 

18th October

The Future of Urban Planning, Euan Mills, Urban Futures Lead, Future Cities Catapult

1st November

Geography, Culture and Prosperity as Co-creators of Public Spaces in CitiesDr Sandra Piesik, 3 ideas Ltd

22nd November

The Production of Play: new forms for civic engagement within contested urban realmsCatalina Pollak-Williamson, artist and architect

6th December

From Vacant to Vibrant: unlocking value through temporary activation of space, Yoana Tulumbadzhieva, London Borough of Waltham Forest

Director's Seminars

11th October

Reinterpreting human history to decouple prosperity and environmental impact, Prof. Mark Maslin, Department of Geography, UCL

25th October

Designing Open Cities, Prof. Ricky Burdett, Professor of Urban Design, Director of LSE Cities and Urban Age 

15th November

What is the Human in the Humanities Today? Professor Rosi Braidotti, Distinguished University Professor at Utrecht University

29th November

Special Director's Seminar: Rise Up: Providing homes for key urban workers on London's rooftops, Arthur Kay, SKYROOM and bio-bean

4th December

Special Director's Seminar: Infrastructure, citizenship and urban culture, Professor Henrietta Moore, Professor Suzanne Hall, Professor Nick Tyler, Dr John Bingham-Hall  

13th December

Digital Revolution and the State, Dr William H. Janeway

Spring 2018


Thursdays, 1-2 pm, Room 114 Foster Court, Malet Place, UCL, London, WC1E 6BT

11th January

Changing our housing system, Alastair Parvin, Co-inventor of WikiHouse

25th January

How can we make AI drive prosperity? Olly Buston, Founder of FutureAdvocacy

1st February

An introduction to Universal Basic Services, Andrew Percy, Co-Director of the Social Prosperity Network

8th February

Blockchain in Energy, Joanna Hubbard, Co-founder and COO, Electron 

1st March

Entrepreneurship, Professor Stephan Chambers, Inaugural Director of the Marshall Institute, LSE

15th March

Education in the context of mass displacement, Dr Fadi al-Halabi and Dr Brian Lally, General Director and Consultant at Multi-Aid Programs 

Director's Seminars

Thursdays, 4-6 pm, G08 Sir David Davies Lecture Theatre, Roberts Building, UCL, London, WC1E 6BT

18th January 

An introduction to Degrowth, Dr Jason Hickel, Goldsmiths

6th February

Cultures of Sustainability and Wellbeing: Theories, Histories and Policies, Dr Paola Spinozzi, University of Ferrara, and Dr Massimiliano Mazzanti

22 February (cancelled due to UCU strike)

An introduction to SystemIQ, Jeremy Oppenheim, Senior Managing Partner, SystemIQ

8th March (cancelled due to UCU strike)

An introduction to Artificial Intelligence and Human-computer interaction, Dr Kate Devlin, Goldsmiths

22nd March 

Artificial Intelligence and Creativity, Professor Maggie Boden, Research Professor of Cognitive Science, Department of Informatics, University of Sussex

Autumn 2017


Thursdays, 1-2 pm, Room 114 Foster Court, Malet Place, UCL, London, WC1E 6BT

5th October

The UK's Inclusive Economy Partnership, Alexandra Meagher, Senior Policy Advisor for the Government Inclusive Economy Unit

19th October

The Dark Matter of massive change, Indy Johar, Co-founder of 00, Senior Innovation Associate with the Young Foundation, Co-founder of Dark Matter Laboratories

26th October

Renewable Energy in the UK, Hayden Wood, Co-founder of Bulb

23rd November

Grassroots Finance - Bringing back trust, Stuart Field, Community Development Financial Consultant, Bread Funds

7th December

Rethinking our Digital Lives, Barbara Miranda 

Director's Seminars

Thursdays, 4-6 pm, G08 Sir David Davies Lecture Theatre, Roberts Building, UCL, London, WC1E 6BT

12th October

Design, Evolution and Revolution - A Change Agenda for Prosperity, Professor Mikko Koria, Professor of Design Innovation and Director of the Institute for Design Innovation, Loughborough University London

2nd November 

Is our economy set up to benefit regular, working people? Professor Guy Standing, Professorial Research Associate and co-President of the Basic Income Earth Network

16th November

Understanding the Good Life: a discussion of current CUSP, Kate Burningham and Sue Venn, Deputy Director and Research Fellow at the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity

30th November

Transitions to sustainable and prosperous places, Dr Clare Melhuish, Director of the UCL Urban Laboratory

14th December

Worldviews on the current economic order, Michael Jacobs, Director of the IPPR Commission on Economic Justice, Visiting Professor in the School of Public Policy, UCL

Spring 2017


Thursdays, 1-2 pm, Room 114 Foster Court, Malet Place, UCL, London, WC1E 6BT

12th January

Green Infrastructure Consultancy, Gary Grant

26th January

Social Life, Nicola Bacon, Founding Director, Social Life

9th February

Repowering London | Community-owned clean energy in London, Agamennon Otero, Founding Director of Repowering London, Energy Garden and Clean Marine 

2nd March

The People Who Share, Benita Matofska, Global Sharing Economy Expert

16th March

Abundance Investment, Bruce Davis, Joint Managing Director (Brand and Marketing), Abundance Investment

Director's Seminars

Thursdays, 4-6 pm, G08 Sir David Davies Lecture Theatre, Roberts Building, UCL, London, WC1E 6BT

19th January

How infrastructure and engineering can transform living conditions and alleviate poverty, Dr Priti Parikh, Senior Lecturer, Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering, Faculty of Engineering Science, UCL

2nd February

Mainstreaming the Internet of Things, Professor Jeremy Watson, Professor of Engineering Systems and Vice-Dean (Mission), Faculty of Engineering, UCL

23rd February

Materials for the 21st Century, Professor Mark Miodownik, Professor of Materials and Society, Mechanical Engineering, UCL

9th March

The Sharing Economy: A Financing Prosperity Network panel

23rd March

Systemic Enfolding: Microfinance, Financial Risk, and Imagining Alternatives, Dr Sohini Kar, Assistant Professor, Department of International Development at LSE