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Vice Chancellor Susan Lea speaking in Middleton Hall
Events 2022-23

St John's College Lecture

The Annual St John’s College Lecture is the University of Hull’s key civic lecture of the year.

Links between the University and St John’s College go back very many years and, as part of that relationship, an annual lecture was established.

The inaugural Annual St John’s College Lecture was delivered in 1932 by Sir Humphry Rolleston, Fellow of St John’s College and Physician-in-Ordinary to King George VI, on ‘A Brief Survey of Medicine during the last Hundred Years’.

The University of Hull very much appreciates the continued support of St John’s College in delivering this lecture series.


St John's College Lecture

The St John’s College Lecture is an annual collaboration between the University of Hull.

It started in 1932 and this year will be the 90th anniversary of the lecture series.

The lecture will be held on Wednesday 19 October 2022, 4-5pm in the Middleton Hall and will be followed by refreshments in the Arts Café.

Professor Tim Bayliss-Smith, University Emeritus Professor of Pacific Geography, St John’s College, Cambridge, is the next speaker.

The title of Tim’s talk is:

'From Pacific atolls to Cambridge colleges: the challenge of Zero Carbon for sustainability'.

Tim Bayliss-Smith

From 1966-69 Tim Bayliss-Smith was an undergraduate at Sidney Sussex College, University of Cambridge, reading Geography. In 1973 he gained his PhD at Cambridge for a thesis entitled ‘Ecosystem and Economic System of Ontong Java atoll, Solomon Islands’, based on a year of fieldwork in the Pacific. That year he also became a University Lecturer in the Department of Geography and was elected to a fellowship in St John’s College, Cambridge. He was promoted to a University Readership in 2004 and to Professor of Pacific Geography in 2013.

During his career, he has conducted fieldwork in the Solomon Islands and elsewhere in Melanesia, through research projects in Fiji and Papua New Guinea. His research collaborators have included tropical ecologists, social anthropologists and archaeologists. Many of his publications relate to his long-term interest in agroforestry as a potentially sustainable form of land use in the humid tropics. He has also published on theories of agricultural intensification, population change especially the impacts of colonialism in Melanesia, and the historical geography of northern Sweden. His books include The Ecology of Agricultural Systems (1982), Islands of Rainforest: Agroforestry, Logging and Ecotourism in Solomon Islands (2000, with Edvard Hviding), and Rock Art and Sami Sacred Geography (2008, with Inga-Maria Mulk).

More recently Tim has returned to his early interest in ecosystem management, modelling energy flows as interventions in the carbon cycle. In this work he has revisited the dilemma of atoll dwellers in a globalised and changing world. On the atolls he knows best the inhabitants have sought to improve their livelihoods through high levels of fossil-fuel consumption, in particular investing in the petrol needed to power their outboard motors. This new technology is required to harvest marine resources for export to China, and to pay for imports. As well as fossil fuels these imports include the food these atoll dwellers can no longer produce for themselves as their island ecosystem itself becomes degraded by climate change and sea-level rise. For these various reasons the carbon footprint of atoll dwellers now looks too large to be sustainable, but in circumstances that are almost entirely beyond their control.

Much closer to home Tim has helped to quantify the carbon footprint of St John’s College, Cambridge, as part of Cambridge University’s aspiration to achieve Zero Carbon by 2048. As in the case of tropical atolls, quantifying the carbon budget shows the scale of the task we face if we wish to reduce carbon emissions to more sustainable levels. The lecture on 19th October will analyse and illustrate some of these problems.

tim bayliss-smith
Tim Bayliss-Smith

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