• Date and time: Saturday 8 June 2019, 11.15am to 1.15pm
  • Location: RCH/037, Ron Cooke Hub, Campus East, University of York (Map)
  • Audience: Open to the public
  • Admission: Free admission, booking required

Event details

Universities are the engine room of discovery, extending the boundaries of knowledge to tackle complex global challenges by unleashing the power of the imagination and empowering new generations of thinkers.

Join us for a special Festival Focus Day, What Have Universities Ever Done For Us?, featuring world-renowned experts.

Following an introduction by University of York Chancellor Sir Malcolm Grant and Richard Brabner, Director of the UPP Foundation, we present our keynote speakers: resource economist Anil Markandya, who has worked extensively on climate change and energy and environment issues; Lord Kerslake, Chair of the UPP Foundation Civic University Commission, which is reviewing the role of the civic university; and Alain Beretz of the University of Strasbourg, France who will present a continental view of higher education.

Anil was one of the core team that drafted the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 4th Assessment, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. He is an advisor to many national and international organisations, including all the international development banks, UNDP, the EU and the governments of India and the UK. 

A crossbench peer, Lord Kerslake is the former head of the civil service and was permanent secretary at the Department for Communities and Local Government from 2010 to 2015.

Alain, a Special Envoy of the French Prime Minister with a mission on European universities. is a former Director-General for Research and Innovation at the French Ministry for Higher Education, Research and Innovation. 

After our keynote speeches, expert panellists, including Hamish McAlpine of Research England, and Sue Hartley, Callum Roberts and Deborah Smith of the University of York, will discuss the benefits universities deliver, particularly universities' role in tackling complex global challenges.

Our Festival Focus Day is presented in collaboration with the UPP Foundation and HE for Research Professional. 

This event is part of the Focus Day What Have Universities Ever Done For Us? Why not stay for Social Justice and Lifelong Learning and In Defence of the Humanities

Please note: The times for this event are different to those advertised in the Festival brochure. 

MadeAtUni is a new campaign to bring to life the impact of universities up and down the country on people, lives and communities. View the 100+ ways universities have improved everyday life, and explore the breakthroughs in health, technology, sport and culture, environment, family, and community. Follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @MadeAtUni


About the speakers

Alain Beretz is a member of the Pharmacology faculty of the University of Strasbourg, France. He was Vice-President in charge of technology transfer (2001-2006), and then President of the Louis Pasteur University in Strasbourg (2007-2008). He was elected in 2009 as the first President of the University of Strasbourg, resulting from the innovative merger of the three previous universities, and served two terms until September 2016. During that time (2014-2016) he was also Chair of the League of European Research Universities (LERU). From September 2016 to September 2018, he served as Director-General for Research and Innovation at the French Ministry for Higher Education, Research and Innovation. He is presently Special Envoy of the French Prime Minister with a mission on European universities. 

Professor Sir Malcolm Grant is Chancellor of the University of York. He recently completed a seven-year term as Chairman of NHS England. He served for 10 years as President and Provost of UCL, from 2003 to 2013, and was previously Pro Vice Chancellor of Cambridge and Professor and Head of Department of Land Economy. He is an Honorary Fellow of Clare College Cambridge.

Past roles have included service as Chairman of the Russell Group, of the Local Government Commission for England, and of the Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission. He has been a member of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and of the University Grants Committee of Hong Kong. He has a strong interest in higher education globally, and is currently senior adviser to the President of Arizona State University; President of the Council for the Assistance of At-Risk Academics (CARA); Chairman of the PLuS Alliance advisory board (Australia, USA and UK), Chairman of international advisory panels for the National Research Council of France; and a member of the Russian Federation Government’s International Council on leading universities (the 5-100 project).  

Sue Hartley is Professor of Ecology at the University of York and Director of the York Environmental Sustainability Institute (YESI), a pioneering interdisciplinary research partnership generating solutions to global environmental challenges. Sue is also the University of York’s Research Champion for Environmental Sustainability and Resilience. Sue served as President of the British Ecological Society (2016-2017) and she is a Trustee of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and a member of the Natural England Board. In 2009 she delivered the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, becoming only the fourth woman to do since they began in 1825.

Lord Kerslake is a crossbench peer and Chair of the UPP Foundation Civic University Commission. He is a former Permanent Secretary, Department for Communities and Local Government (2010 to 2015) and former Head of the UK Civil Service. He was knighted in 2005 for services to local government and was made a life peer in March 2015, taking the title Baron Kerslake, of Endcliffe in the City of Sheffield.

Prior to joining Whitehall, Lord Kerslake served as Chief Executive of the London Borough of Hounslow for eight years before becoming Chief Executive of Sheffield City Council for 11 years. From 2008 to 2010 he was Chief Executive of the Homes and Communities Agency where he was responsible for promoting new and affordable housing supply; supporting the regeneration of cities, towns and neighbourhoods; improving existing housing stock, and advancing sustainability and good design. He is Chair of the Centre for Public Scrutiny, Peabody and London CIV, and is President of the Local Government Association.

Professor Anil Markandya is a resource economist and an acknowledged leading authority, who divides his time between academic and advisory work. He has published widely in the areas of climate change, environmental valuation, environmental policy, energy and environment, green accounting, macroeconomics and trade. Some of his best-known works include, Blueprint for a Green EconomyGreen Accounting in EuropeReconciling Trade and Development, Cleaning the Ganges and South Asia’s Hotspots: The Impact of Temperature and Precipitation on living Standards. He has held academic positions at the universities of Princeton, and Harvard, USA and at University College London and Bath, UK. He was a lead author for Chapters of the third, fourth and fifth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Reports on Climate Change. Most recently he contributed to the IPCC special report on global warming of 1.5ºC.  He was appointed Executive Director for the Basque Centre for Climate Change in April 2008.

Anil was one of the core team that drafted the IPCC 4th Assessment which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. In 2008 he was nominated by Cambridge University as one of the 50 most influential thinkers on sustainability in the world. He has been an advisor to many national and international organisations, including all the international development banks, UNEP, UNDP, the EU and the governments of India and the UK. At the World Bank he was a Lead Advisor and worked closely on energy and environmental issues with many governments in Asia, Central Europe and the Former Soviet Union.

Hamish McAlpine is Head of Data and Evidence at Research England (part of UK Research and Innovation – UKRI). UKRI is a public body that distributes over £6.5Bn a year to universities and businesses to support research, and helping to produce economic and societal benefits all across the world. Hamish leads on policy related to metrics informing the Knowledge Exchange Framework, which will measure the performance of English Universities’ knowledge exchange activities. He previously worked at the interface between academia and industry, and transferring research outputs into industry. Hamish has a background in information and knowledge management and in his spare time upcycles bits of old aircraft into furniture.

Professor Callum Roberts is a marine conservation biologist in the Department of Environment and Geography at the University of York. He was first tempted into marine science by a trip to the coral reefs of Saudi Arabia, where he studied behaviour and coexistence of herbivorous fishes. This led to a lifelong love of coral reefs.  In the early 1990s his interests in behaviour gave way to concern about the deteriorating condition of coral reefs, leading to his current emphasis on marine conservation. He worked on the BBC TV programme Blue Planet, appearing in the last episode, and was a series scientific adviser to Blue Planet II  

Deborah Smith is Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at the University of York. She trained as a biochemist and established the Centre for Immunology and Infection at York and was previously Head of the Biology Department. She sits on the University Executive Board, the University Council and is York lead for Athena-Swan activities.  Externally, Deborah has chaired the Medical Research Council Infection and Immunity Board and the Wellcome Trust Science Interview panel, and is currently a member of the Wellcome Trust/Royal Society Sir Henry Dale Fellowships committee and the Council of Research England. She has also participated extensively in evaluation of international research, working for organisations including Genome Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Institut Pasteur and FCT Portugal.  Deborah was awarded an OBE for Services to Biomedical Sciences in 2010.


Image credit: Doug James


Venue details

  • Wheelchair accessible