16 September: Leading researchers debate survival to 22nd century at It’s All Academic Campaign launch
16 September 2016
Some of the world’s leading academics joined together last night for a public event to answer the question 'How Will Society Survive to the 22nd Century?' at the launch of It’s All Academic – UCL’s biggest ever philanthropic giving Campaign.
With a target of £600m, the Campaign aims to raise more money and engage more people with UCL and our work than ever before.
The launch event brought nearly 1,000 people to UCL’s Logan Hall to hear what the future might hold from a great line up of speakers, chaired by ITN Economics Editor and UCL alumna and honorary professor Noreena Hertz.
The panel was made up of the UK’s first Breakthrough Prize winner Professor John Hardy (Institute of Neurology), international human rights expert Professor Philippe Sands (Faculty of Laws), social anthropologist Professor Henrietta L Moore (Institute for Global Prosperity), space scientist Professor Lucie Green (Department of Space & Climate Change Physics), and Dr Kevin Fong (Centre for Altitude, Space and Extreme Environment Medicine).
Subjects ranged from whether humanity will ever live on Mars (with Kevin Fong commenting “You might consider it reprehensible to go around vandalising one planet after another”) to how we define prosperity, with Henrietta Moore observing: “People who live in west London are the richest, but people who live in the Outer Hebrides are more fulfilled.”
Outlining all the ways in which space technology affects life on earth, from weather forecasting to the internet, Lucie Green concluded that “maintaining our quality of life means maintaining our presence in space.” Philippe Sands reflected on the history of human rights post-1945 before which, he reminded us, “a state could do whatever it wanted to its own citizens” and added: “Without global rules we can’t have global wellbeing at any level”.
John Hardy, after impressing the audience with the scale of dementia research at UCL and his optimism for our future brain health, also coined an alternative slogan for the UCL Campaign in his answer to a question on philanthropy – “Even capitalists can have empathy”.
Afterwards a public reception was held where the audience could mingle with UCL staff and academics and explore some of their work at the interactive exhibitions. The exhibits were representative of the four main themes of the campaign: London, Students, Health and Disruptive Thinking. Guests could challenge themselves to change the tyres on a formula one car, create sweetie DNA strands and sample nitrogen ice cream.
The evening was a great success and firmly cemented the Campaign as an institutional priority moving forward into 2017 and beyond..