Michael Gidney – Change is in Your Pocket”
As the CEO of the Fairtrade Foundation, Michael Gidney detailed the exploitative child labour and lack of a safety framework for those working in gold-mining in Kenya, Lake Victoria in an environment where profits were prioritized before people. Using this example, he urged for greater transparency in the supply chains of production companies as part of how companies could engage in fairer business practices. He explained that in order to tackle the vast inequality in developing countries, consumers had to be collectively conscious in the money they spent, ensuring it benefited producers and supported their livelihoods and thus encouraging other companies to take part in fairer trade.
Elizabeth O. Dulemba – Is Your Stuff Stopping You?
With a lifelong passion for drawing, Elizabeth is currently a successful children’s author and illustrator.
After undergoing surgery and experiencing the loss of a dear friend, Elizabeth O. Dulemba decided to streamline her life by selling and giving away everything she owned in order to minimize the baggage that initially prevented her access to valuable life experiences. She encouraged people not to be fooled by the illusion of the value placed on material possessions as well as emphasized the importance of living life fully.
Key Quote: “We have a deadline….we don’t know when it is. It inspires a fire in us to action”
Jennifer Culbertson – The Hidden Symmetry of Language
Jennifer Culbertson is a Chancellor’s Fellow in the Language Evolution and Computation research group at the University of Edinburgh. Within her talk, Jennifer conveyed her belief of language in reflecting the diversity between individuals through the way they used it to communicate their beliefs, desires and spread ideas. However, through depicting the common origin through which different languages have developed from, she expressed its unifying force within human interaction and thus, its importance within society in general.
Emma Van Der Merwe – Why I Do Something Everyday that Scares Me
At the age of 17, Emma Van Der Merwe was diagnosed with depression and suffered a series of anxiety attacked. Despite this, the encounters in her life have played a part in shaping her resilient attitude towards life. For example, she was inspired by the aspirations of a young refugee boy in she encountered whilst being a journalist based in Dadaab Refugee Camp, who, despite growing up as a refugee, wanted to become a doctor . Since then, she has continued to pursue an ambitious career and take part in activities which continually challenge her. Moreover, she detailed her decision to deactivate her social media accounts in order to maintain an honest and transparent offline presence which included the consolidation of deeper and more genuine connections with people.
Key Quote: “You have to let go of what you’re holding onto in order to grab hold of what lies on the other side”
Deri Llewellyn-Davis – Everest: Fuck the Fear, it’s Not Real Anyway
Deri Llewellyn-Davis is a well accomplished speaker, entrepreneur and author and is an adventurer, having climbed six of the highest mountains in the world and completing the Ironman competition. However, amidst climbing Mt. Everest in 2015, the Nepal Earthquake struck. He, along with several colleagues were confronted with a fear they had never experienced before. Instead of letting it stop them, they continued to climb the summit and eventually completed their expedition. Through this surreal encounter with danger and death, he detailed the social construction of the idea of fear we form in our minds and the importance of confronting it in order to enable us to live the life we wish to live, with no regrets and restrictions.
Key Quote: “Despite the earthquakes, despite the deaths…we stayed because we faced all the fears we were supposed to face.”
Dr. Matthew Bailey – My Genes Don’t Fit! Living in a Salt-Saturated Society
As the Director of the Centre for Cardiovascular Science in Edinburgh, Dr. Matthew Baily specializes in the function of the kidney, specifically the role of salt in our bodies. Using his expertise, Matthew’s talk centred on the evolution of human beings and how in the process of developing from sea-dwellers to sophisticated individuals now, we have become a salt-saturated society. The health implications this brings about were brought up by Matthew and he encouraged the audience to become more aware of their lifestyle choices and to aim to live healthier.
Jo Simpson – The Courage to Trust Yourself: Listen to the Nudges
Jo Simpson’s talk confronted the audience on the decisions they weren’t making. From this stemmed the idea of learning to harness the courage to trust our intuition and instinct in coming to the decisions that are best suited to ourselves because they reflect the core values we believe in. Using examples she has encountered in recent years, Jo illustrated that although change is scary, we feel many “nudges” for a reason and in life, and that rethinking and transforming our lifestyles can be positive changes to experience.
Key Quote: “There’s a part of you that knows the answers. And a real way to harness that, to trust on it and act on it is through your core values, because your core values is at the heart of every decision you ever make, every relationship you encounter and every goal you achieve, whether you’re consciously aware of it or not.”
Lynne Copson – How to Demystify Academia, and Why We Should Bother
With a long-running background studying and working in academia spanning 29 years, Lynn Copson’s topic focused on the idea of applying academic studies to the rest of the world. In an increasingly interconnected society, knowledge is becoming more widespread and presents various opportunities for the public to engage in debates which are necessary if we are to see any progress or change. For this reason, Lynn strongly advocated for greater links between the world of academia and wider society in order to change the direction of public discourse towards tackling greater social issues, such as inequality.
Image Credit: David Wilkinson | www.campfire.agency