Welcome from the Director – Issue 12

Apr 22, 2024 | IAS Director, Transformations (Issue 12)

Professor Alex Easton, Director, IAS

Welcome to our new edition of Transformations, after what has been another exciting term in the IAS. With our major projects ‘Understanding Offence’ and ‘Justice and AI’, Cosin’s Hall has been as busy as ever. Alongside these have run several research development projects bringing together networks at an early stage of an idea.

This term we’ve also run major events which have reached out to staff, students, and the public. As part of Durham’s Global Week celebrations, the IAS ran a showcase event, highlighting recent projects ‘Arctic Soundscapes’, ‘Responsible use of Space’, and ‘Opportunities in Pollution’. It was wonderful to see what these projects have achieved since their IAS activities started, developing strategic research investment, and having impact in the local region, and across a range of other countries. It was clear not only that the investment had delivered significant outcomes, but that the projects had genuinely delivered interdisciplinary work involving co-production of ideas and transformative understanding of important topics.

We also joined with South College to run an event ‘Journalism in a Post-truth World’. With an exciting line-up of speakers from the worlds of journalism and academia exploring the role of press regulation, the adaptation of democracies to a post-truth era, and how science can be communicated when even basic facts are debated as true. Alongside the invaluable insight from the panel was input from an audience that included academics, students, and sixth form students who were highly engaged and provoked a wide-ranging discussion. We look forward to running further events in this area in the future.

The IAS’s aims to reach beyond academia were also developed with a wonderful talk this term by Howie Firth, a Durham alumnus who developed and runs the Orkney International Science Festival, a truly interdisciplinary celebration of science and its impacts. With fascinating insights into the benefits (and challenges!) of running such a broad ranging festival we hope to develop some close links with the festival in future years.

It’s wonderful to see such a full programme of activities in the IAS, and reaching so many different audiences, and delivering such a range of outcomes. I’m excited about what our projects continue to deliver, and what is possible as a result of the interdisciplinary discussions that happen in the IAS, but I am also excited about what’s to come, with many more exciting activities in development. More to come on that in future editions!

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