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Research Festival: Communities

Global, Secure, Connected CommunitiesProgramme of events 

The Politics and Geography of Civil Liberties and Free Speech 

In this workshop, Professor Conor Gearty (Professor of Human Rights Law, London School of Economics) and Dr John Roberts (Reader in Sociology and Communications, Brunel University London) present findings from their respective projects on the politics of protest in and around parliament and the architectural design and regulation of free speech at Hyde Park. 

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The Doctoral Researcher Showcase

Brunel University London is home to a vibrant and stimulating research community. This event is aopportunity to hear from some of our Doctoral Researchers within the College of Business, Arts and Social Sciences about their exciting and innovative research activities. 


  • Figuring the I in Memoir – Franchesca Liauw, Arts & Humanities
  • Bouncing back from bankruptcy: Narratives of Entrepreneurial Antifragility – Amit Rawal, Brunel Business School
  • The world of AI and blockchain: Ethics matters in corporate governance – Hongdan Han, Brunel Business School
  • Can a strategy afford me to take more from my pension? – Oluwaseun Dada, Economics & Finance 
  • Who am I? Empowering racial identity and cultural pride in English special schools –Donna-Marie Holder, Education
  • An intersectional analysis of Black female leaders in feminism in education – Kellie Brown, Education
  • Transnational political parties and transnational sovereignty. How to read the situation of the left-wing in Europe – Rodrigo Francisco Maia, Social & Political Sciences
  • Examining Kuwait National Museum – Sundus Alrashid, Social & Political Sciences
  • Transdisability: bridging the gap, when trans* identity and disability meet – Cavyn Mitchell (He/They), Social & Political Sciences
  • Enthographic approaches to understanding and mitigating orangutan killing in Indonesian Borneo –  Paul Thung, Social & Political Science

Open Lecture, Reframed Queerness in Contemporary Francophone Writing from the Maghreb

Professor William Spurlin examines representations of same-sex desire in recent francophone writing from the Maghreb, theorising the queer potential of the indeterminate spaces 'in between' nations, cultures, languages, bodies and temporalities. This lecture raises important implications for the ways in which we think about gender, erotic autonomy, immigration, translation and intercultural relations, and the ongoing effects of colonial inscription. 

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#BrunelCuppaScience meets with Dr. Meredith Jones, Director of the Institute of Communities and Society.Discussion topics will include the importance of research into popular culture which can impact on inequalities, politics, social life, identities and bodies. Dr. Meredith Jones will also outline how the Institute will facilitate research pathways to impact, community outreach and public engagement. Finally, current hot topics in the field will be debated and advice for early career researchers will be given.

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Plastics in Society (SPlaSH) – Critical Approaches to Managing Plastics Waste 

This is the second of the SPlasH series of events on the urgent and pressing issue of plastic resource and waste management. The aim is to elucidate current prevailing linear models of production, consumption and (mis)management that result in plastics pollution and negative impacts on society. A prestigious panel composed of international researchers and practitioners from different fields will cover the topic from diverse angles, and unpack the distribution of plastic pollution around the globe. Panellists will discuss opportunities to bring change via innovative solutions and strategies, from industrial to global, and will engage critically with the challenge of zero-waste. This is an exciting opportunity to become immersed in a holistic discussion of this complex challenge, and to gain insights into synergistic research opportunities across traditional disciplinary barriers.  

Open Lecture, An Annus Horribilis: Through the Lens of an International Human Rights Lawyer 

Professor Alexandra Xanthaki, Brunel Law School

The last year has brought us face to face with some difficult human rights issues: the structural discrimination that was revealed in the discussions surrounding COVID; the continuing hate speech against migrants, obvious in the debate on the origins of the pandemic; and the continuing lack of solidarity among Europe evident in the vaccination saga and in the protection of the vulnerable offers little hope for the future of human rights in Europe. This lecture is about dissolving some of the myths that currently undermine our human rights commitments; and looking at lessons we can take forward after this annus horribilis towards a brighter, fairer future.  

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Launch of Brunel’s new Institute of Communities and Societies 

Dr Meredith Jones, Institute Director 
The Institute of Communities and Societies aims to shape the policy agenda on issues such as migration and mobility, social cohesion, inequalities, security and rights, and transparency in our economic institutions, among others. Join us to hear about the new Institute and our exciting plans and vision for the future. 

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Introduction to the Centre for Artificial Intelligence Social and Digital Innovation 

Professor Ashley Braganza, Centre Directorwill discuss how the Centre for AI: Social and Digital Innovation advances and introduces new AI technologies at theoretical and applied levels, and generates the knowledge needed to influence policies and practices through understanding the effects of AI at societal, industry, business and individual levels.  


Introduction to the Centre for Law, Economics and Finance 

Professor Nigar Hashimzade, Centre Director will discuss how the Centre for Law, Economics and Finance brings together experts across several disciplines working together to understand how the interactions between individuals, communities, business and institutions shape socio-economic outcomes, and what can be done to improve these outcomes. The Centre aims to advance the wider societal impact of our research by engaging with policymakers, practitioners and other stakeholders 

Centre for Global Lives – 'Changing world, changing spaces: the work of Global Lives' 

Global Lives is a research centre that focuses on the challenges and the opportunities represented by living in an increasingly globalised environment. Dr Andrew Green, Centre Director, and colleagues will discuss how the research of the members of the centre adopts a varied and stimulating approach to the ways in which we understand ourselves and our relationship with the world around us. 

Introduction to the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Sustainability

Professor Catherine Wang, Centre Director, will introduce the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Sustainability (CES) and how it will launch research labs that cut across the four core interdisciplinary themes of entrepreneurship, sustainability, creativity and innovation. The research lab leaders will share their vision and planned activities, and welcome participation of all CBASS academics and research degree students. 

Open Lecture, Promoting employee pro-environmental behaviour change in the workplace 

Professor Danae Manika, Professor of Marketing & Business Education at Brunel. 
The majority of past work examining pro-environmental behaviour has focused on home behaviour and/or consumption behaviour. More recent research has focused on employee pro-environmental behaviour change within organisations. These two contexts differ substantially (e.g., employees do not have the same financial interests at work as they do at home, hence not concerned with their energy usage; while devices are often shared by colleagues) with important implications for workplace pro-environmental behaviour change interventions for sustainability. This presentation will discuss theory and practice in promoting employee pro-environmental behaviour change, as a way to identify trends and potential avenues for future research and practice. 

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The Absent Agent: Orangutans, communities, and conservation in Indonesian Borneo 

Dr Viola Schreer explores the relationship between orangutans, humans, and conservation in Indonesian Borneo. While people in the Global North share a great affection for orangutans, the apes have often little meaning for rural Bornean communities living alongside them. Orangutans are generally absent from these villagers’ everyday life: they’re rarely encountered and not seen as particularly special. And yet, orangutans can have a surprising impact on local people’s lives thanks to the work of conservationists who are trying to save them. This lecture investigates how orangutans are made present in rural Bornean communities through conservation interventions and asks what this can tell us about the disparities and inequalities that shape global conservation practices today.

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Apocalyptic narratives: science, risk and prophecy

Dr Hauke Riesch, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, will trace some of the apocalyptic narratives within current discussions of global crisis, and how these narratives have shaped reactions and understandings of the threats to our near future.


"Electric Dance, or How to Talk with Birds" 

A short film screening created during the 2020 COVID pandemic, followed by a talk by Professor Johannes Birringer, Professor of Drama & Performance, CBASS 

Reflecting on a series of ongoing outdoor performance experiments during the COVID-19 lockdown period, this dance essay is a composition that interweaves an outlook on the political and social fall out of the pandemic with more intimate, personal probings during the return to self-insulation in a generous countryside. The essay’s title evokes a series of climbs (up electrical power masts) or reverse bird-eye views on an eco-philosophical imaginary that seeks to combine body weather techniques (derived from Japanese butoh dance), enacted in various organic nature and industrial locations, with digital processing. The site-specific performances are creative responses as well as social choreographies in an era of climate crisis and virological pandemics. The author proposes that experiential time-based performance is an art form for the 21st century, capable of capturing the pulse of anxiety but re-connecting human and not-human lives or organisms: Reflecting on what is important in our environments, nurturing mind-body connection and somatic experience in a commons.

Open Lecture, “The rich sit on chairs”: making sense of persistent poverty in rural southern Africa

Professor Nicola Ansell presents an Open Lecture as Professor of Human Geography at Brunel University London.  

Young people are often at the forefront of policies and initiatives that purport to address rural poverty in African countries. In recent years, attention has been given to increasing school participation, developing entrepreneurship skills, stopping ‘child marriage’ and even disbursing money to those deemed most vulnerable. Yet there are many places where having chairs to sit on or eating three times a day are viewed as signs of privilege. In this talk Nicola draws on ideas expressed by young people themselves to begin to understand why these initiatives have seldom had the impacts that are expected by those implementing them. 

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Roundtable on Policy Engagement 

This roundtable session will feature colleagues from all three Colleges discussing how they have sought to use their research to influence public policy. Chaired by the Director of Brunel Public Policy, the session will illustrate the possibilities (and limitations) of what can be achieved both domestically and international. 
Speakers: Professor Louise Mansfield, Professor Trevor Hoey, Dr Manu Savani, Professor Gareth Taylor. 

Chair: Professor Justin Fisher  


Homes for Healthy Ageing

In this event, Bin Guan of Connected Places Catapult will share their research findings on the main challenges people are facing at home in their later life, as well as the role technology innovation could play to help tackle some of the key challenges. You can hear how they are approaching the design of a ‘Homes for Healthy Ageing Programme’ to ensure it focuses upon user needs while promoting tech innovation from UK plc.


Daljit Nagra – indiom: Reimagining an Empire English 

Daljit Nagra, Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Brunel, will read extracts from his forthcoming book, indiom (Faber & Faber, 2021). indiom is a long poem in Babu and Coolie English. This humorous poem has a cast of characters who attend a monthly workshop group. In today’s session, the group will discuss the merits and validity of their Englishes when set against Standard English. This innovative text thinks it’s a film that is presented as a playscript and incorporates Indian and English metrics and verse forms to champion the importance for BAME writers to find their own unique voices.