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Joint Tyndall Centre – NISD Thought-Leader Seminar


Speaker: Professor Jules Pretty – Director of Public Policy and Engagement, School of Life Sciences, University of Essex.

Host: TBC

Location: This will be a hybrid seminar. All welcome


Environment, society and culture are closely linked. They shape each other. My new book, Sea Sagas of the North takes the North Sea and eastern North Atlantic as its palette, and tells tales of ecological and economic change in six countries looking inward to the sandy shallow sea. A burnished ancient skipper of the drifters and trawlers leant across the café table overlooking the long-abandoned site of a beach fishing village, and said, “You know, we were more tolerant and kind in those days, when we had the fishing. We went to other ports and places, and came back with stories and gifts.” An Icelandic author, Andri Snær Magnason, wrote a lament to their first glacier entirely to disappear, saying, “How do you say goodbye to a glacier?”

It is a common feeling for people, these days, to feel anxiety and fear, helplessness too, in the face of global-wide crises. Yet stories can create agency, can be like tricksters of old who set us on the path through the dark forest. A very simple solution exists: leave all fossil fuels in the ground. Yet implementation seems impossible. This talk is about hope and heroic journeys. It about acting and inspiring. It is about the options available to all of us for a low-carbon good life. The American poet, Mary Oliver, put it well in her seven-word poem, Instructions for Living a Life: “Pay attention, Be astonished, Tell about it.”


Jules Pretty is Professor of Environment and Society at the University of Essex, and Director of the Centre for Public and Policy Engagement. His books include Sea Sagas of the North (2022), The East Country (2017), The Edge of Extinction (2014), This Luminous Coast (2011), Agri-Culture (2002) and Regenerating Agriculture (1995). He is Chief Editor of the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability. He received an OBE for services to sustainable agriculture, an honorary degree from Ohio State University, and the British Science Association Presidential Medal. He is among the top 1% most cited scientists worldwide, and is host of the podcast Louder Than Words and film shorts series Brighter Futures.


NISD Thought Leaders seminar series

This seminar is part of the 2023 NISD seminar series that brings leading experts together to share knowledge around sustainable development challenges. This series focuses particularly on sustainable agriculture. All welcome

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