Global Conversation has travelled the world exploring issues from Climate Change, Dementia and the search for habitable Exoplanets. Join the conversation today and book your place at one of our upcoming events listed below.

Upcoming Events

We are still finalising the date and location of our next Global Conversation. If you would like to be notified once this has been confirmed please email Ruth Waterfield, International Alumni Officer (

Past events

Global Conversation Hong Kong 4 June

Valuing the Invaluable: How can we include biodiversity in business decision-making?

Hong Kong, Monday 4 June 2018

The world’s natural resources provides us with everything needed to sustain life. However, the erosion of biodiversity is one of the greatest threats to our continued existence on this planet and the World Economic Forum places biodiversity loss among the top two risks for businesses.  We must find ways of exploiting the natural world in a sustainable manner, a recognition that has drawn scientists, economists and the business community together to work out how this might be achieved. Accounting for biodiversity and the implementation of targets for the conservation and management of the natural environment have been identified as key first steps. The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals 2030 now has signatories from 193 countries but success in these endeavours requires the acumen and engagement of the business community.

Exeter scientists Professor Stuart Bearhop and Dr Nibedita Mukherjee discussed our dependence on global ecosystems, what interventions have been successful, and how science and industry could work together to promote and deliver a sustainable economic future. A lively Q&A followed with panellists Christopher Botsford, ADM Capital and Karen Ho, WWF Hong Kong taking questions from guests.

The event was hosted by Exeter's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Steve Smith.

Can we Prevent Dementia? Will we cure it?

New York, Monday 5 March 2018

Professor Clive Ballard (Pro Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of the University of Exeter Medical School), a world expert in the field of dementia, will highlight Exeter’s pioneering research in this field was joined by Professor Howard Fillit (The Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation, Founding Executive Director and Chief Science Officer) to explore this global health issue and answer questions from the audience.

There are more than 40 million people with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias worldwide and this is set to double over the next 25 years as the population continues to age.  Dementia is a devastating condition and the leading health fear for older adults. However, recent evidence from our 2017 Lancet Commission suggests that dementia could be prevented or delayed significantly in more than 1 in 3 people by lifestyle interventions, such as physical exercise, diet and weight and tackling social isolation.

There is also a massive and urgent unmet treatment need. It has been twenty years since a new drug was discovered for Alzheimer’s disease.  Current treatments improve symptoms slightly but they don’t tackle the core disease. It is critical we find innovative solutions to develop disease modifying treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and other common dementias to tackle this urgent global health challenge.

The event was hosted by Mary Stahl, Vice Consul Life Sciences, British Consulate General New York.

View photos from this event.

HK GC 2017

Can We Prevent Dementia?

Hong Kong, Monday 13 November 2017

There are more than 40 million people with dementia worldwide and this number is set to double over the next 25 years. Recent evidence from the University of Exeter – published in a paper by the Lancet Commission – suggests that dementia could be prevented, or delayed significantly in more than one in three people. Key potential factors include keeping the brain active, physical exercise, diet and weight, tackling social isolation, deafness, treating midlife medical risk factors (such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol), and preventing and treating depression more effectively. The challenge now is to provide an evidence base for specific interventions which can maintain cognitive health and reduce the number of people developing dementia.

The University of Exeter was delighted to co-host this Global Conversation event with Brain Health Initiative. In “Can We Prevent Dementia?” we heard from world-leading dementia expert, Professor Clive Ballard (Pro-Vice Chancellor and Executive Dean of the University of Exeter Medical School) who demonstrated some of the challenges and latest research in this field.

After a lively panel Q&A featuring Dominica Yang (Brain Health Initiative), Professor Timothy Kwok (CUHK and Jockey Club Centre for Positive Ageing) and Professor Linda Lam (CUHK), PROTECT in Hong Kong was launched, allowing the public in Hong Kong to sign-up and take part.

View photos from this event.


Can Economics Save the Environment?

Sydney, Monday 29 May 2017

Authorities from the United Nations Environment Programme to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to the Convention on Biological Diversity agree that conventional approaches to conserving many of the world’s vital natural resources are simply failing. Indeed there is strong evidence that in some respects the world may already have exceeded certain safe limits on our use of nature’s resources. However, many prominent figures, including the leaders of all the above organisations, argue that while global economic activity has created these problems, only by recognising the economic value of the natural environment can we hope to save its resources.

Professor Ian Bateman (University of Exeter) demonstrated some of the latest research in this field, using a number of recent real world examples to illustrate how economics can reveal the value of the environment and incorporate it into both Government and business decisions. Professor Kerrie Wilson (University of Queensland) illustrated examples from the Australian perspective.

Trump’s First 100 Days: The Politics of (Mis)Information?

London, Wednesday 10 May 2017

This Global Conversation considered President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in Office.

Beginning with Franklin Roosevelt in 1933, US Presidents have promised to enact significant elements of their agenda within their first 100 days in office. We will discuss how effective Trump has been in implementing his agenda and what major policy changes have occurred.

Professor Jason Reifler (University of Exeter) spoke about what his research tells us about the Trump Presidency so far. David Petts, a DC pollster and political strategist, spoke about what the politics of the US will look like going forward.

View photos from this event.

Why does basic research matter and who should fund it?

Exeter, Monday 28 November 2016

Global Conversation Exeter was hosted at the new Living Systems Building.

In this Global Conversation, Professor Philip Ingham FRS set out why he believes the Living Systems Institute needs to be a bastion of basic research, not just because the knowledge it generates can lead to unforeseen applications but also because such knowledge has a broader value to society.

Scientists, and especially life scientists, are under ever increasing pressure to justify their research: funding proposals must now include impact statements and value propositions and show evidence of industrial alignment or translational potential, implying all research should have some practical purpose. Indeed, in a recent essay, the distinguished commentator Matt Ridley (British journalist, businessman and author of popular science books) has argued that advances in scientific knowledge are driven principally by technological need and innovation and that industry and commerce are better arbiters of research resource allocation than public agencies. But should knowledge generation always be directed towards defined exploitable goals?

View photos from this event.


Mining: Is bigger always better?

Vancouver, Canada, Thursday 20 October 2016

Global Conversation, Vancouver, saw Professor Kip Jeffrey, Head of Camborne School of Mines, share solutions to challenges facing the global mining sector. The future of the industry was discussed in response to an ever-increasing global demand for mined materials and growing environmental concerns.

Thanks to support from the Canadian Institute of Mining, the audience were made up of industry leads and institutional contacts, as well as a large number of alumni. This provided the foundation for a lively and informed Q&A session. We were delighted to welcome Dr Tony Batchelor, Chairman of the Camborne School of Mines Trust, and Garth Kirkham of the Canadian Institute of Mining, to the panel.

View photos from this event here.

Cyberwarfare - What is the Role of International Law?

Washington DC, USA, Tuesday 18 October 2016 

Visiting Washington DC ahead of the US Presidential election, this Global Conversation event explored the latest research on cybersecurity. Exeter’s Professor Michael Schmitt, a leading international expert in the law of armed conflict, presented his research into legal implications of cyberwarfare. Focus was drawn from the ‘Tallinn Manual Project’ - a six-year long NATO study Schmitt has led on at the Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre, looking at the applicability of international law to cyberspace.

The prolific event held at the British Embassy gave alumni, corporate and institutional contacts (including representatives from US Military and Fujitsu) opportunity to ask questions to Professor Schmitt, who was joined by Tom Wingfield, Professor of Cyber Law at the National Defence University.

View photos from this event here.


A 'New Europe': Lessons from Ancient and Modern History

London, Thursday 26 May 2016

With June’s referendum bringing the debate about Britain’s future in the EU centre stage, academics from the University of Exeter considered the issues in light of current research at a special event in London.

Professor Richard Toye (History) and Professor Elena Isayev (Classics and Ancient History) presented the latest research on the UK’s historical relationship with Europe, examining what the evidence of the past can tell us about the Europe of today – and of the future.

Historian Dr. David Rosenthal and Exeter alumna Sophie Wardell (BA English 2009) joined the speakers for a panel discussion and Q&A.

View photos from this event here.

Genome Editing: molecular panacea or moral dilemma?

Singapore, 14 March 2016

We heard from internationally recognised geneticist, Professor Philip W Ingham of Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and founding Director of University of Exeter’s Living System’s Institute.

We heard how genome editing works and how it has already been applied therapeutically, and in biomedical research. Visiting academic Professor Russell Gruen of NTU told how technological advancement can be used to manipulate human development. Limitations of genome editing and the desirability of practical applications were discussed, with provocative questions being posed to Profs Ingham and Gruen. It was compelling to hear that within ten years exponential growth of computing will allow for robotic processing capability to be a reality – the doors are open to manipulate human genetic form – what are your thoughts?

View photos from this event here.

Protecting the Oceans in a Changing World: Why marine biodiversity matters to Hong Kong and the world

Hong Kong, 8 March 2016

Professor Brendan Godley (Chair in Conservation Science and Director of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation, University of Exeter) and visiting academic Dr David Baker (Swire Institute of Marine Science, University of Hong Kong) delivered an enthralling lecture on the importance of ocean health, with research from both institutions into the profound rapid deterioration of coral reef in some of the world’s busiest channels, being central to this presentation.

We were honoured to be joined by a committed panel of conservation specialists including, Dr Christine Loh (Undersecretary for the Environment in Hong Kong),  Prof Kenny Leung (Professor of Aquatic Ecology and Toxicology, University of Hong Kong) and University of Exeter’s Professor Stuart Bearhop (Chair in Animal Ecology and Associate Dean for International & Development) to answer the audiences questions.

It wasn’t all bad news. We heard how there has been a resurgence of growth in reef as a result of direct environmental conservation; a sense of personal responsibility was unavoidable.

View photos from this event here.

The 'New' Middle East: The Return of the Nineteenth Century?

Sharjah, UAE, 6 February 2016

Exeter’s internationally recognised political scientist Professor Gareth Stansfield, Al-Qasimi Chair of Arab Studies, delivered a presentation entitled "The 'New' Middle East: The Return of the Nineteenth Century?" to an enthusiastic audience. The lecture considered a ‘new’ Middle East carved from the rise and return of new forces in the region, and the durability of established political orders.

Thanks must go to His Highness, Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council of the United Arab Emirates and the Ruler of Sharjah, for his generosity in hosting the evening.

View photos from this event here.

Extreme Global Warming: A World Beyond 2°C?

London, 2 February 2016

Current science indicates that a global increase in temperature of only 2°C could have significant impacts for the Earth but what are the consequences of exceeding this limit? What would the world look like with 4°C or even 6°C warming? These were just some the the questions explored at this Global Conversation by leading academics from the University of Exeter and experts from The Met Office, including Professor Richard Betts and Professor Tim Lenton and The Met Office's Dr Jason Lowe. During a captivating panel disucssion experts explored what a warmer world could be like, and what impact it could have on key issues such as food, water, energy security, flooding, health, migration and risk of conflict. 

View photos from this event here.

Tackling the Challenge of Dementia

San Francisco, 16 November 2015

This Global Conversation took place at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. Entitled "Tackling the Challenge of Dementia" two leading Exeter scientists, Professor Jonathan Mill and Professor Linda Clare, presented latest research into Dementia starting with the biological and genetic issues, followed by prevention and adaption techniques from the perspective of Clinical Psychology. A lively panel discussion followed, where presenters were joined by guest panellists, Professor Paul Coleman (Arizona State University) and Stefanie Bonigut (Alzheimer's Association).

View photos from this event here.

Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change: What is the best thing to do now?

New York, 12 November 2015

This Global Conversation took place at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Entitled "Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change: What is the best thing to do now?", leading Exeter Climate Science and Energy Policy researchers, Professor Peter Cox and Professor Catherine Mitchell explored the major threats and opportunities in this field, as well as latest considerations of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Guest presenter, Professor Travis Bradford (Columbia University) provided the US perspective on Energy Policy. A lively panel discussion followed, where presenters were joined by guest panellist Dr Gavin Schmidt (NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies).

View photos from this event here.

Addressing Literacy Disadvantage in Canada and the UK

Toronto, 9 November 2015

This Global Conversation took place at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. Entitled "Addressing Literacy Disadvantage in Canada and the UK", two internationally recognised social scientists, Professor Debra Myhill (University of Exeter) and Professor Shelley Stagg Peterson (University of Toronto) explored challenges and what public policy actions have the greatest potential to address literacy gaps arising from social disadvantage. Guest panellists, Patsy Aldana (National Reading Campaign, Canada) and Greg Farrell (Ontario Ministry of Education), joined the panel to explore the topic in more depth during the lively audience Q&A session.

View photos from this event here.

New Worlds, New Science and…New Life?

Paris, 26 June 2015

This Global Conversation took place at the stunning La Maison des Polytechniciens in central Paris. The topic "New Worlds, New Science and…New Life?" explored the search for life on Extrasolar Planets by Exeter's Professor Isabelle Baraffe with partners Professor Didier Queloz (University of Cambridge) and Professor NikolaiPiskunov (Uppsala University). Guests also enjoyed a pop-up exhibition by artist Pandora Mond, artist in residence at Exeter's Astrophysics Department.

View photos from this event here.

Water in Asia: Threats to and opportunities for Health and Well-being

Hong Kong, 23 March 2015

This Global Conversation took place at the Asia Society, Hong Kong. Exploring the topic of "Water in Asia: Threats and opportunities for Health and Wellbeing", presenters Professor Michael Depledge and Professor Dragan Savic were joined by Dr Christine Loh, OBE, Under Secretary for the Environment for the Hong Kong Government, who formally opened this event and took part in the lively panel discussion which followed the key note speakers. Dr Loh joined Professor Savic, Professor Depledge, as well as Mr. SW Chau Chief Engineer/Development, Hong Kong Water Supplies Department, to answer audience questions on a panel discussion following presentations.

View photos from this event here.

Transforming Mental Healthcare Services in Hong Kong

Hong Kong, 20 March 2015

This Global Conversation took place at the British Council in Hong Kong. Exploring the theme "Transforming Mental Healthcare Services in Hong Kong", Professor Eugene Mullan, Professor Ed Watkins, and Professor Patrick Leung of Chinese University of Hong Kong, explained how a pioneering new approach to the treatment of mental healthcare will help to reduce suffering and distress of those suffering from mental health issues in Hong Kong and how this new approach has developed through a strong partnership between Exeter and Chinese University Hong Kong.

View photos from this event here.