February 2016

February 2016

26th Februaty 2016 - Scotland Rocks - A Tartan Tour of Planet Earth

Speaker: Professor Iain Stewart, University of Plymouth and BBC presenter

Read summary report of Iain Stewart's talk - Scotland Rocks - A Tartan Tour of Planet Earth

Many of the fundamental ideas that underpin our current understanding of how planet Earth works come from the work of Scottish scientists. This talk explored and celebrated this tartan contribution to modern Earth Science, and examined how many of the contemporary challenges facing society in the 21st Century also root into Scotland's industrious past.

25th February 2016 - Joint Annual RSE/SCRR Peter Wilson Lecture: Lost in Translation

Speaker: Professor Dame Anne Glover DBE FRSE, Vice-Principal External Affairs & Dean for Europe, University of Aberdeen.

Read summary report of Anne Glover's talk - Lost in Translation

The world of science is beguilingly simple as we construct hypotheses, test them and then make conclusions relevant to the evidence.  This is a continuous process refined over time.  Politicians also claim to want evidence to form the basis of their policies but sometimes the evidence is not consistent with their philosophies or is at odds with other considerations such as economic factors.  How are we then to ensure that politicians and policymakers have access to the best possible advice when we know that the advice may not be taken?  How do we deal with uncertainty in translating that advice to policymakers and should science advisers be in the business of providing policy options based on the available evidence?  The lecture drew upon experience in providing science advice to government and administrations in Scotland and in Europe.

This was the 2016 Joint Annual RSE/Peter Wilson lecture, organised in partnership with the Scottish Consortium for Rural Research (SCRR).

24th February 2016: Discussion Forum - Life in the Soil: Does it Matter?

Read summary report of the discussion on Life in the Soil: Does it Matter?

Speakers included: Professor Richard Bardgett, Professor of Ecology, University of Manchester; Professor Colin Campbell, Director of Science Excellence, The James Hutton Institute and Professor Julie Fitzpatrick, Scientific Director of the Moredun Research Institute. Panel discussion will be chaired by Susan Davies, CEO, SNH.

Soil has been described as the “poor person’s tropical rain forest”.  Walking through a woodland or a meadow, there are hundreds and possibly thousands of species beneath our feet, but what are they all doing and why are there so many?  The evening focused on the vital roles which these organisms play -  in maintaining the soil’s fertility, the ecosystems services which they perform, the possibility of new pharmaceutical products, and the problems associated with disease transmission. Soil ecosystems are rich, diverse and vital to life and society. The event was supported by the James Hutton Institute, the Moredun Research Institute, the Strategic Research Programme and Scottish Natural Heritage.

16th February 2016: Full Day Conference - Understanding European Challenges

Read the summary report of the conference on Understanding European Challenges

Keynote speaker: Brigid Laffan MRIA, Director and Professor at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies and Director of the Global Governance Programme, European University Institute (EUI), Florence.The European Union is facing unprecedented challenges, including the problems of the Euro, the refugee crisis, and turbulence in its neighbourhood. The conference addressed these questions and the different possible futures for Europe. It examined the issues in the relationship between the United Kingdom and Europe, and the way they are seen in the nations and regions. It also looked at the alternatives to EU membership should the UK decide in the coming referendum that it wishes to withdraw.

 

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