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BK Blog Post
Posted by Ralph Windle.
Ralph Windle is the editor of The Poetry of Business Life, as well as the author of Boardroom Ballads and The Bottom Line, and co-editor (with William Keyser) of Public Enterprises in the EEC.
SHEFFIELD UNIVERSITY; 2009 ARTS/SCIENCE ENCOUNTERS : Ralph Windle’s Review
‘Ralph Windle is a poet, writer, arts/science commentator, and creator of the fictional character Bertie Ramsbottom. Oxford-based, he has his roots in Sheffield, and we were delighted and honoured to have him as a guest at the 2009 Sheffield Encounters. His review of the Encounters captures something of the essence of the events, as well as his own individual style…..
We would do well to hearken especially closely to what they meant to Ralph because, as is clear from his contextual discussion in Part I of this review, he has thought long and campaigned hard, as a writer and founder of the Creative Value Network , over the divisions which undoubtedly still exist between the communities of arts and science researchers . I would like to thank him for his wise reflections, his quirky and erudite insights, and most of all, for the sheer pleasure of his conversation.’
Rachel Falconer. Pofessor of Modern English Literature, Sheffield University. ‘Encounters’ Co-ordinator
`Begin at the beginning,´ the King said, gravely, `and go on till you come to the end:
then stop.’ Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: Lewis Carroll.
During the three months mid-March to mid-June 2009 Sheffield University hosted a series of sixteen events, which they called Arts-Science Encounters. These talks and performances involved over 30 of its senior professors and researchers, from all 5 of its Faculties; and ranging over more than 20 disciplines from neuroscience, physics and nanotechnology to literature, music, architecture and psychology. There were also distinguished guest presenters, including Ruth Padel, poet and Darwin descendant, Bernard Gregor-Smith, eminent cellist, and prize-winning writers Richard Holmes (The Age of Wonder) and Denis Noble (Music of Life: Biology Beyond the Genome).
The early-evening events were open to the general public, free, and designed for the non-specialist.
The programme offered an intriguing smorgasbord of irresistible delights, such as…
Music, Bird Song and Brain Science - What do nightingales, Messiaen and brain science have in common…?
Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth - An exploration of the works of Buckminster Fuller through Bharathanatyam Dance…
Cern and The Large Hadron Collider - What goes on there? Why is its work so vital?
A Chemist´s Adventures in Wonderland - What happens when art, fashion and chemistry collide…?
The aim was simply stated. It was `to stimulate conversation and debate about the ways we choose to pursue knowledge in our different (arts or science) fields´.
Clearly, the wider celebrations of the bi-Centenary of Darwin’s birth, the 150th anniversary of the publication of his The Origin of Species, and the 50th Anniversary of C P Snow’s `Two Cultures´ Rede Lecture, all these made 2009 a particularly auspicious year for the Arts/Science theme. Darwinimania ruled, and the great and the good were out in full plumage on the metropolitan conference and media platforms.
Some worthy, generally more modest and appropriate things were, of course, also happening; and, as witness to many, I concluded – and wrote at the time – that, in the happy circumstance of Darwin’s return for his anniversary celebrations, I felt sure he would have preferred to join me on the train to these Sheffield Encounters than endure the more flamboyant Establishment panegyrics.
In this review of the semester-long series of events, I hope to give good reasons why….
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