Imperial evenings of exploration make move online

Imperial Lates return in digital form this week with live events and online activities that celebrate our connections to the natural world.

Back to Nature, which launches today, is the first of five collections of online discussions, creative workshops, and fun quizzes that will be released between now and the end of the year. This week’s Lates programme includes a botanical still life drawing class, a wildlife-themed pub-less quiz and a ‘great outdoors’-inspired poetry slam.

The full programme of live events and online content can be found here.

The Imperial Lates, previously known as the Imperial Fringes, have traditionally been after work face-to-face public events run since 2012. They are delivered by the Public Engagement team in support of the College’s Societal Engagement Strategy.

The 2019-2020 Imperial Lates series saw almost 4000 people join five evenings of science fun. Topics included a journey of global science, an exploration of infectious diseases, a wintery celebration of low-temperature science, and a look to the future of transport and ‘Big Data‘.

The move to remote public engagement

Restrictions on public gatherings have necessitated bringing the spirit of the Lates into the online realm.

The move to online programming since lockdown has allowed our team to try out new platforms for engagement and reach audiences that may never have found us in person Vicky Brightman Head of Public Engagement

Head of Public Engagement Vicky Brightman has seen the challenges posed by this shift, but also the opportunities created for new forms of public interaction with our research.

“The move to online programming since lockdown has allowed our team to try out new platforms for engagement and reach audiences that may never have found us in person. It can also offer a more flexible or convenient way for our researchers to get involved in discussing their research with the public, particularly those who may have duties of care or work at different campuses. As a result, we see this greater digital focus as a way to grow our engagement programme long-term, supporting our traditional in-person Lates and Festivals when those are possible again.”

After Back to Nature, subsequent Lates Online will launch on a monthly basis, covering topics ranging from wellbeing and what we eat to technology’s role in human relationships and a celebration of our healthcare workers.

Holly Smith, Public Engagement Programme Coordinator, and one of the Imperial Lates Online organisers said, “We wanted to address issues that might resonate with people during this unique and often difficult period. But we also want to look to the future and how our research at Imperial might impact or transform each of these areas.”

Starting with a return to nature

Back to Nature, the first of these Lates Online events, fits very nicely into this category, with an exciting programme that features:

  • A panel discussion on whether the public response to COVID-19 provides hope or lessons for the future of our natural world
  • A Reddit ‘Ask Me Anything‘ hosted by Rainforest conservationist Dr Rikki Gumbs
  • A talk on the day in the life of a theoretical ecologist with Dr Samraat Pawar (pictured below)
  • Lots more content to enjoy on-demand including an immersive rainforest audio-visual experience created by artists at super/collider working with the Department of Life science PhD student and spider monkey conservationist Jenna Lawson

Emma Slater, Public Engagement Producer and Volunteer Coordinator, is another of the Lates organisers. She hopes these stories from the natural world will build on the role that getting outdoors has played in helping people through the challenges of recent times.

“Lockdown has brought nature into focus for so many of us. Escaping into a park or garden has felt both like a slice of normality and a new adventure. Who knew that wood was there? What’s this plant that I’ve never noticed on my commute? Looking more closely and paying attention to our natural world is more important than ever for our wellbeing and the health of our planet, and we wanted to share some of the science behind it.”

By registering with the Imperial Lates: Back to Nature on Eventbrite members of the public will receive daily reminders about upcoming events and links to live broadcasts.

/Public Release. The material in this public release comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.