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Human creation, public transport and Italian football: public lectures

Autumn lectures 2017

An exciting season of autumn lectures is well underway – from human creation to the future of Reading’s transport, there’s something for everyone over the next few weeks. 

All of our public lectures are open for staff and students to attend – below you will find a selection of highlights over the coming weeks. For the full schedule, please see the Events Listing page. 

Annual Cole Lecture: The egg and sperm race

1 November (7.00 pm), G11 Henley Business School, Whiteknights 

Where do we come from? For thousands of years we really had no clue. In the mid-seventeenth century, human eggs and sperm were discovered but their role wasn't understood for another 180 years. Guest speaker Professor Matthew Cobb, University of Manchester, will describe how these amazing discoveries were made, and how rivalry spilled over into enmity.

Reading 2050: Reading's heritage and history

2 November (6.00 pm) – L022, room G01, London Road 

Book online 

The School of Construction Management and Engineering are central players in a bold new collaborative project exploring the vision for the future of Reading in 2050

A new public series has launched to accompany the project, bringing together industry experts to discuss and debate how Reading should evolve to a smarter and more sustainable future by 2050.

Led by Matthew Williams, Manager of Reading Museum and Professor Stuart Green, the second lecture of the series will explore Reading’s heritage and history.

MERL Annual Lecture: Making and the Creative Economy

6 November (7.15 pm) – Great Hall, London Road 

Book online

This year’s MERL Annual Lecture is in partnership with the Crafts Council, Heritage Crafts Association and Art Workers Guild. 

Presented as a panel discussion, the debate brings together influential thinkers connected to “craft and making” to explore pressing issues facing the creative economy. It will break down and examine dividing factors (intellectual, social, financial and cultural) that separate contemporary crafts from heritage crafts, as well as exploring the differences between amateur makers from professional makers.

Alumni lecture: In conversation with Michael Bolingbroke

9 November (6.00 pm) – Henley Business School, Whiteknights 

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The inspirational Alumni Lecture invites alumnus Michael Bolingbroke (BA Economics, 1987) to speak about his fantastic career, having held roles including Senior Vice President of Shows at Cirque du Soleil, COO at Manchester United, and CEO of F.C. Internazional. Throughout his rich career, Michael has always been passionate about his work and was proud to be involved in revitalising one of the jewels in the crown of Italian football. 

Reading 2050: The Future of Energy in Reading

16 November (6.00 pm) – L022, room G01, London Road 

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The third in a lecture series from the School of Construction Management and Engineering in support of the collaborative Reading 2050 project

In the lecture, Reading academics Dr Phil Coker and Professor John Connaughton will explore how local energy provision and usage may change by the year 5050. 

Jess Phillips MP: Talk and Debate

16 November (6 pm) – Van Emden Theatre, Edith Morley, Whiteknights 

The Department of English Literature and the Department of Politics are delighted to welcome guest speaker Jess Phillips, MP for Birmingham Yardley. 

A highly effective speaker, activist and campaigner, Jess Phillips more than trebled her majority at the recent General Election. Before she became an MP, she worked with victims of domestic violence, sexual violence and human trafficking, and she has stated: ‘I continue to speak out on behalf of those who struggle to have their voices heard’. (Everywoman, 2017). This determination to ‘speak out’, together with her well-publicised doubts about the leadership of the Labour Party, has made her the target of relentless attacks on social media.

Peter Campbell Memorial Lecture – Campbell Talks Campbell: on Mental Health and Politics

20 November (6:15 pm) Van Emden Theatre, Edith Morley, Whiteknights 

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The Department of Politics and International Relations will welcome former Labour Press Secretary and inaugural Downing Street Director of Communications and Strategy, Alastair Campbell, to campus for the annual Peter Campbell Memorial Lecture.

As part of the ‘Political Voices’ seminar series, Alastair will be sharing his thoughts and answering questions – with plenty of opportunity for audience interaction.

Lost and Found: Excavating the World’s First Farmers in Iraq and Iran, 10,000 – 7,500 BC

22 November (8.00 pm) – G10, Palmer Building, Whiteknights 

Part of the Being Human Festival, this richly-illustrated lecture delivered by Professor Roger and Professor Wendy Matthews will present the latest discoveries from their ongoing excavations at the World Heritage Tentative List site of Bestansur, dating to the Neolithic site of Sheikh-e Abad, 10,000-7,500 BC. 

Stenton Lecture: The Russian Revolution: A Hundred Years On

23 November (7.00 pm) – G11 Henley Business School, Whiteknights 

The Russian Revolution transformed the face of an empire, established the world's first socialist state, and profoundly affected the course of world history for the rest of the twentieth century.

 A hundred years on, the master historian Professor Stephen Smith (University of Oxford) reflects on the tumultuous events of 1917 and our attempts to understand this epochal moment in history.

Reading 2050: The Future of Transport and Mobility in Reading

30 November (6.00 pm) – L022, room G01, London Road 

Book online 

The fourth in a lecture series from the School of Construction Management and Engineering in support of the collaborative Reading 2050 project

By 2050, will train delays be a thing of the past? Join Scott Witchalls, Peter Brett Associates and Professor John Connaughton as they explore how Reading’s transport links and services may evolve in the not too distant future.   


To book your place on any of the events listed above, visit unless specified otherwise. 

For queries, please email

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