Public lecture series to celebrate 100 years of research

A new public lecture and discussion series celebrating the diversity of 100 years of research at the University of Leicester is to be launched in November.

The Difficult Conversations series, to be hosted at the University of Leicester School of Business (ULSB)’s newly redeveloped Brookfield campus, will explore topics as wide-ranging as life on Mars to nuclear war, and the air we breathe to the menopause in celebration of the University’s Centenary year.

Leicester’s resident expert researchers will be joined by guests from across the region and beyond, with all events open to the public in celebration of the University’s founding legacy as an education institution for the people of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland in 1921.

Difficult Conversations is hosted by Gary Dixon, Pro-Chancellor and Chair of the University’s Council, and facilitated by Turi King, Professor of Public Engagement and Genetics, and co-presenter with Stacey Dooley of BBC Two’s DNA Family Secrets.

The series also seeks to challenge perceptions on certain topics, and encourage members of the public to consider ‘difficult’ questions which impact us all.

The first conversation, Tackling hate: Striving for social justice, takes place on Tuesday 9 November 2021 (6.30pm to 7.45pm) and will see Professor Neil Chakraborti, Director of the Centre for Hate Studies, joined by Leicestershire Police Chief Constable Simon Cole, Honorary Fellow Dr David Wilkin and Research Fellow Dr Amy Clarke, both of the School of Criminology.

The trio will discuss the impact of hate crimes as well as exploring the challenges of how policies and practices can be improved and enhanced in a thought-provoking evening of discussion and Q&A.

Further confirmed Difficult Conversations include;

  • Are cities the biggest threat to our survival? – Thursday 6 January 2022 – Regeneration and recycling are fundamental to how natural ecosystems are sustained. City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby features on a panel to discuss the future of urban areas.
  • The Menopause: It’s a hot topic – Thursday 3 March 2022 – What do we really know about the menopause? Why is it still a taboo subject? How can women take control and talk openly about it? Join guests including documentary-maker Kate Muir for a myth-busting discussion.
  • Fingers off the button: Nuclear weapons – Thursday 5 May 2022 – We are living in a world where the risks of nuclear weapons use appears to be rising and the frameworks and thinking that have kept us safe since 1945 are eroding. Professor Andrew Futter leads the conversation on whether humans need to re-think peace.
  • Every breath we take – Thursday 7 July 2022 – With 80% of us living in areas where air quality exceeds safe limits, how can we address the air pollution crisis? Professor Paul Monks, Chief Scientific Adviser to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Professor John Remedios, Director of the National Centre for Earth Observation, are among the experts examining the air we breathe.
  • Eyes to the skies – Thursday 8 September 2022 – There is huge fascination of what lies beyond the skies. Each day we are discovering more about space and the planets that inhabit it. What will these discoveries tell us, and what will they mean?

Gary Dixon, Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Council at the University of Leicester and host of each talk, will formally launch the first event in November. He said: “One recurring theme of research in the University’s first 100 years has been that our researchers have never shied away from asking the difficult questions.

“This tremendous series of Difficult Conversations will not only allow Leicester experts to shine a light on some of the research highlights from our first Century – beyond the headlines like the discovery of DNA fingerprinting – but it will also see members of the public become part of the discussion.

“Our founding legacy is that of a University for all, and we look forward to seeing as many people as possible engage with this series over the coming months.”

The newly redeveloped Brookfield campus is home to the University of Leicester Business School.

Brookfield is the new home of the University’s School of Business, situated in the historic Stoneygate Conservation Area.

Set in seven acres and located a short walk from the main Leicester campus, Brookfield House was built in 1870 and is the former residence of Thomas Fielding Johnson, founding benefactor of the University of Leicester.

Brookfield has been sympathetically renovated to offer a variety of state-of-the-art learning and teaching spaces, including a Harvard-style lecture theatre and the ULSB Trading Room, home to 16 dual-screen Bloomberg terminals, all focused on creating an outstanding environment for students and researchers alike.

Explore the University of Leicester’s Centenary celebrations, Our 100 and more about our story so far at