Please Note: This seminar series has finished. For information on our current seminar series please see our Seminar Series webpage.

All seminars will be held in the Boardroom, School of Geography and the Environment, 4.30-5:45pm on Tuesdays, unless indicated otherwise below. For further information please contact Joe Gerlach.

Week 1: 4.30pm, Tuesday 20 January 2009, Boardoom, SoGE

No seminar

Week 2: 4.30pm, Tuesday 27 January 2009, Boardoom, SoGE

Community Evolution and Natural Selection.

Prof. Lynn Margulis, George Eastman Visiting Professor, Balliol College, Oxford.

Abstract: Communities, by definition, populations of different species living in the same place and time, are easily recognized when delimited by conspicuous ecotones. Coastal marine microbial mats dominated by Microcoleus chthonoplastes and oolitic precursor spheroids are two examples in a single restricted region that potentially fossilize (in chert as microcrystalline quartz or in carbonate as oolitic limestone, respectively). Two other very different examples include the fresh water iron-manganese microbialite nodules at the source of the Connecticut River (second Connecticut Lake, Pittsburg, New Hampshire) and for at least 20 million years, the pseudergate and soldier bodies of Australian tropical termites Mastotermes darwininesis. When the sina qua non processes of the Darwinian evolutionary system are analyzed (biotic potential, inherited variation and natural selection), that communities are units of selection is obvious. Why, then, do "neo-Darwinists" ignore, reject, berate and/or rant against overwhelming evidence for communities as units of selection (="group selection")?

Week 3: 4.30pm, Tuesday 03 February 2009, Main Lecture Theatre, SoGE

When the Rivers Run Dry.

Fred Pearce, Environmental author, consultant and journalist.

Week 4: 4.30pm, Tuesday 10 February 2009, Boardroom, SoGE

Passenger geographies: affective atmospheres and the sociality of public transport

Dr David Bissell, School of Environment and Technology, University of Brighton.

Abstract: This paper takes as its starting point the centrality of non-representational registers of communication and comprehension to understanding how everyday experiences of travelling with others by public transport unfolds. Drawing on extensive primary research, this it explores how different affective atmospheres erupt and decay in the space of the train carriage; the modes of affective transmission that might take place; and the character of the collectives that are mobilised and cohere through these atmospheres. Acknowledging that these atmospheres have powerful effects, this paper focuses on the trajectories of particular misanthropic affective relations; and how such negative relations emerge from a complex set of forces which prime passengers to act. Yet this call to action is often met with a reticent passivity that transposes these negative affective relations, often in ways that intensify their force. In expanding the realm of that which is often taken to constitute the 'social', the paper concludes by considering some of the ways in which these negative affective atmospheres might be 'ventilated' in order to make travelling by public transport a more pleasant and perhaps even joyful experience.

Week 4: 4.30pm, Wednesday 11 February 2009. Main Lecture Theatre, SoGE

Climate Change and Food Systems - A Challenge for the Research Community.

Professor Thomas Rosswall, Executive Director, International Council for Science.

Week 5: 4.30pm, Tuesday 17 February 2009, Boardoom, SoGE

How fish swam across the Sahara: Implications for the peopling of the Desert and the 'out of Africa' hypothesis.

Dr Nick Drake, Reader, Department of Geography, King's College London.

Week 6: 4.30pm, Tuesday 24 February 2009, Boardoom, SoGE

The BSE crisis and why public administration matters in thinking about technological risk decision-making.

Dr Liz Fisher, Reader in Environmental Law, Corpus Christi College, Oxford.

Abstract: Reforming technological risk decision-making is often understood as an exercise in either making decision-making more scientific or more participatory. In this paper the role of the Southwood Working Party in the BSE crisis is examined to show how this understanding of this area of state activity is too simplistic. Technological risk decision-making is invariably carried out by public administration and understandings of good and legitimate public administration are directly influencing understandings of technological risk and of what is a reasonable decision. The implications of this fact for both reform and research are considered.

Week 7: 4.30pm, Tuesday 03 March 2009, Boardoom, SoGE

At stake with implementation: trials of explicitness in the description of the state.

Dr Fabian Muniesa, Researcher, Centre de Sociologie de l'Innovation, Ecole des Mines, Paris.

Week 8: 4.30pm, Tuesday 10 March 2009, Main Lecture Theatre, SoGE

Pass it on: towards a political economy of propensity.

Professor Nigel Thrift, Vice-Chancellor, University of Warwick.