Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care


A Student's Perspective: Faculty of Population Health Sciences Alumni & Student Event on 12th May

18 May 2017

Former UCL Lecturer Dr Xand Van Tulleken has enjoyed a successful TV career focusing on health, epidemiology and humanitarian issues.

fphs-alumni-event-2017 Over 140 past and present students joined staff on Friday evening to hear Xand's perspective regarding Europe's refugee crisis. Behaviour Science and Health PhD student Monica Koo details the evening.

A mixed audience of alumni, students, staff, and interested members of the public sat down in the Cruciform building's basement lecture theatre to hear Dr Alexander (Xand) van Tulleken talk about Europe's humanitarian crisis. Despite being a Friday night in London, the audience had not been discouraged and waited with great anticipation for the Faculty of Population Health Science's inaugural alumni event.


Prof Graham Hart spent a few minutes introducing the Faculty and Dr van Tulleken - a reminder that the FPHS encompasses a broad range of research on human health across the life course, by examining the biological, behavioural and psycho-social processes that affect population health.

And then on to the talk we had all been waiting for: Dr van Tulleken set the scene for his talk by describing the complex mechanisms of human migration and how this generates humanitarian crises. He used a powerful series of images he had taken during his time at the refugee camps in Lesbos and Calais and the stories of people he had met along the way to illustrate the grim reality of the ongoing migrant crisis in Europe.

Dr van Tulleken touched upon the philosophical, historical, and ethical elements of humanitarian aid, calling out the distinction between life versus living; development aid versus humanitarian aid; and the seemingly unsolvable paradox of addressing the immediate needs of refugees only to trap a displaced population indefinitely in limbo. His talk was thought-provoking and entertaining, and stimulated many questions from an engaged audience, as well as much discussion and debate at the drinks reception that followed in the Front Quad Pavilion. 

by Monica Koo (@mmkoo12)