UCL Grand Challenges


Disruptive Voices

Experts from across UCL share their innovative solutions and ideas for addressing societal challenges, inspiring and encouraging us to think differently about local, national and global issues.

Grand Challenges has always supported colleagues at UCL to do things a little differently and disrupt the status quo. For over a decade, we have supported people from diverse disciplines to work together to tackle pressing global issues.

The idea of facilitating these problem-focused, cross-disciplinary partnerships flows from UCL’s tradition as a radical institution, and to expand our support for UCL’s radical thinkers, Grand Challenges has launched a new blog and podcast series to showcase novel ideas and critical thinking, called Disruptive Voices.  

Disruptive Voices Podcast

Episode 1: Democracy and Place 

Presented by Nina Quach and Siobhan Morris

In Episode 1, we speak to two academics from the Faculty of Laws, Dr Myriam Hunter-Henin and Professor Philippe Sands QC, about Democracy and Place. In this episode, we explore the role of international courts in shaping national identities and the role of individuals in the making and breaking of international law. Our guests also discuss how we can deliver justice at a ‘place-based’ level, drawing comparisons between Britain and France, and consider the relationship between politics and law.

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Episode 2: AI and the Future of Work

Presented by Dr James Paskins

In this episode, Professor Rose Luckin (UCL Institute of Education) and Nimmi Patel (TechUK) discuss what AI developments could mean for the future of work in the UK and globally, and how we need to redefine our understanding of good work to harness AI’s potential for positive change.

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Episode 3: Inside Parliament: Architecture and National Identities

Presented by Nina Quach and Siobhan Morris

In this episode, we speak to Professor Sophia Psarra (The Bartlett School of Architecture) to discuss how the architecture of parliament buildings across Europe influences the nature of political debates and contributes to shaping national identities.

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Episode 4: Behaviour and Plastic Waste

Presented by Nina Quach and James Paskins 

In Episode 4, we speak to Ayşe Lisa Allison, a PhD Student working with the Plastic Waste Innovation Hub. We explore some of the barriers to environmentally friendly action, and examine the links between behavioural science and design, focusing on biodegradable and compostable packaging and labelling. We also discuss the issue of disposable healthcare items, exploring some of the trade-offs when it comes to health and the environment.

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Episode 5: Climate, Disasters and Health

Presented by Nina Quach 

In this episode, we speak to Dr Marina Romanello and Professor Ilan Kelman, about climate change as a health disaster. We discuss how to better measure the impact of climate change on health, and crucially, how to protect the most vulnerable from its negative effects. Our guests also propose alternative framings to achieve the best health and prosperity for all in the future.

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Episode 6: Celebrating Old Age 

Presented by Nina Quach and Siobhan Morris 

In this episode, Dr Mine Orlu (UCL School of Pharmacy) shares her positive perspective on ageing, and explains the need for a cultural change in ageing research and policy. She also shares some learning from actively involving participants in her own research and the outputs they have co-created.

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