Jam-packed with live speakers, performances, videos and even an art exhibition, TEDxWhitehall brought together over 180 researchers, civil servants, policy makers, and others from 47 individual institutions. The event succeeded in meeting TED aims to foster learning, inspiration and wonder, and in provoking conversations that matter around the theme of Changing Expectations. Audience members came away having made new connections both within their work and with each other.
Throughout the day, the speakers talked on a diverse range of topics. Alok Jha opened our eyes to the miraculous and ‘narcissistic’ nature of water. Illustrator Sarah McIntyre showed us that our expectations of our own abilities, and our aptitude in reality, are often mismatched. She made a compelling case for our seeking a connection with our work and with others, not perfection. David Willetts gave us a fresh perspective on the value of a university education and described how the varied benefits of higher education both for the individual and the wider community can be missed if we focus only on economic impact. The Showstoppers wowed us with an improvised musical set in the audience-suggested bar in Budapest, and a short sketch aptly set in a government department.
TEDxWhitehall’s theme was inspired by the Society’s Changing Expectations project, which is part of the ambitious Research culture programme. Changing Expectations looks to 2035 and aims to understand how best to steward research culture through a shifting research landscape. It explores areas of research culture, from researcher careers to the values and expectations of those in the research community. Videos from the Society’s Where will my career take me? case studies and People of Science highlighted links with this work.
An exhibition by Central Saint Martins reflected on changing scientific research processes and the ever-evolving relationship between knowledge and people. This was displayed alongside the Museum of Extraordinary Objects which was developed as part of the Visions of 2035 workshops held throughout 2017. The day concluded with a celebration of the launch of Research culture: embedding inclusive excellence, a document which captures the insights and ideas generated through these workshops as part of a national conversation. This document will be the foundation upon which the Research culture programme will build, leading up to a landmark conference in autumn 2018.
There are many ways you can get involved in the Society’s research culture programme. The videos of speakers and performances from the day can be found on the TEDx YouTube channel. More information can be found on the Society’s website, as well as an exciting opportunity to run your own Visions of 2035 workshop and contribute to the Changing Expectations project.