Public Programme

Public Programme

The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) aims to develop a high quality programme of activities for young people and the wider public of the Scottish Borders during 201415.

Forthcoming events

What is (and was) Scots? Answers and questions from a historical perspective

Eyemouth High School, Monday 7th December, 7pm
Speaker: Professor Jeremy Smith
Read the summary report of Professor Smith's talk on What is (and was) Scots? Answers and questions from an historical perspective

Past Events

November 2015

The Thirty-Nine Steps to Governor General: The Years in Between

Hawick High School, Monday 16th November, 7pm
Speaker: Lady Deborah Stewartby
Read the summary report of the talk on The Thirty-Nine Steps to Governor General: The Year in Between

September 2015

A Sixteenth Century Murder Mystery: Who Killed Lord Darnley?


24 September, 2015. 7.00pm, Jedburgh Town Hall, Abbey Place, Jedburgh TD8 6BE

Speakers: Professor Sue Black FRSE, Director, Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification, University of Dundee

Professor Niamh Nic Daeid FRSE, Professor of Forensic Science, University of Dundee

Dr Richard Shepherd, leading forensic pathologist and

Dr Karly Kehoe, Lecturer in History, Glasgow Caledonian University

A re-examination of the evidence alluding to the murder of Lord Darnley, husband of Mary Queen of Scots, at Kirk o' Field in February 1567. Professor Sue Black chaired a multidisciplinary team, including an historian, a pathologist and a fire and explosions expert, in an attempt to resolve the 'cold case' of Lord Darnley's murder in the light of modern investigative techniques.

August 2015

Bordering on the Supernatural  

22 August, 2015 from 2.00pm - 5.00pm, Bowhill House, TD7 5ET, Selkirk

Speakers:  Professor Douglas Gifford FRSE, Emeritus Professor of Scottish Literature, University of Glasgow, Prof. Kirsteen McCue, Head of Scottish Literature, School of Critical Studies, University of Glasgow and Dr Lizanne Henderson Lecturer in History , University of Glasgow.

June 2015

13 June, 2015 at Berwickshire High School, Duns, TD11 3QQ

Women and the Stars - UNESCO International Year of Light 2015

Speakers: Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell PRSE, President, Royal Society of Edinburgh; Dr Claire Brock, Lecturer, University of Leicester; Dr Mhairi Stewart, Public Engagement Officer, University of St Andrews; and Professor Monica Grady, Open University.

Read the summary report of the talks by the four speakers on Women and the Stars

Great Discoveries Quietly Made; Scottish Women in Science
Dr Mhairi Stewart, University of St Andrews
Mhairi told the stories of some of the renowned Scottish female scientists, the discoveries they made and the difficulties they faced. Their stories showed how they changed the world and how the world has changed for women in science.

Mary Somerville’s Celestial Mechanics
Dr Claire Brock, University of Leicester
Mary Somerville (1780-1872) is a complex figure in the history of science. This talk assessed how she attained the position she did, through an exploration of her ambitious childhood programme of study, and how reaching for the stars brought Mary Somerville a unique position in British society.

Current Women in Space Science
Professor Monica Grady, The Open University
Professor Grady discussed some of the current discoveries and work being undertaken in space science, including the 2014 Rosetta comet landing.

Key Note Talk: We are Made of Star Stuff
Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, President of the RSE
In this talk we considered the atoms in our bodies and ask where they have come from. What was the earth made from? What have stars and the Big Bang got to do with our bodies?

May 2015

Tuesday 26 May 2015 at Selkirk Victoria Halls, Selkirk

'A Good Man in Africa': Mungo Park, the Niger and Late Enlightenment Exploration

Speaker: Professor Charles Withers FBA FRSE, Ogilvie Chair of Geography, University of Edinburgh

Read the summary report of Professor Withers' talk on 'A Good Man in Africa': Mungo Park, the Niger and Late Enlightenment Exploration

In the late eighteenth century, the Niger Problem was a 2000-year-old two-part dilemma.

The first part was simple: which way did the river run, west-east or east to west? The second was more difficult : where did the river end? In a central African lake? Did it join the Congo?

Numerous theories abounded. This mattered as a both a geographical and a commercial problem. If proven right, the theory that the Niger bisected Africa to join the Nile, would have allowed for trade through the heart of the continent.

The Scots explorer Mungo Park was the first to solve, by personal and direct observation, the first part of the dilemma and to live to tell others about it. He died unsuccessfully trying to solve the second.

This illustrated talk examined Park's travels, the making of his highly-successful 1799 book and considered evidence which suggests that others had already solved the second part of the problem.

March 2015

Thursday 26 March 2015 at Kelso High School, Kelso
From Banditry to Books: Enlightening the Scottish Borders

Speaker: Professor Ted Cowan FRSE, Emeritus Professor of Scottish History, University of Glasgow

Read the summary report of Professor Cowan's lecture on From Banditry to Books: Enlightening the Scottish Borders

This lecture seeks to explore and assess enlightenment influence upon the inhabitants of the Borders. There is a substantial and ever-increasing literature about the subject for Scotland as a whole, though until recently there was almost nothing about this aspect of the region's history. That has now changed during the last few years with the appearance of several studies which are of great assistance in our quest. The Scottish enlightenment remains a controversial, if highly stimulating subject. At its core was an enquiry and debate about human nature and everything which impacts upon humankind from the cradle to the grave.  Another mission was the pursuit of useful knowledge particularly in such fields as the sciences, medicine, geography, natural history, geology, the classification of new species of flora and fauna, and antiquities. Indeed, just about anything could be deemed ‘useful knowledge’. The philosophers of the day also speculated about the possibility of perfecting the human race, while pondering such topics as improvement and progress.

Did the Borders even experience Enlightenment? Were men like David Hume and Walter Scott somehow aberrations? Hopefully in discussion with those attending we can find answers.

February 2015

25 February 2015: RSE@The Scottish Borders Launch Event: What Made the Borders? From the Romans to the Union of the Crowns

Speakers: Dr Steve Boardman, Reader in History, University of Edinburgh

Professor Michael Brown, Professor in Medieval Scottish History, University of St Andrews

Professor Richard Oram, Professor of Medieval and Environmental History, University of Stirling

Read the summary report of the talk by the three historian - What Made the Borders?

Three distinguished academic historians from different disciplines discussed the evolution of the Scottish Borders, through an examination of archaeological remains from the Roman period, and historical documentary evidence relating to the landscape, the local and national politics and governance of the region. 


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