The Annual Mike Jackson Lecture: The Invention of Nature. Alexander von Humboldt’s New World

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Wednesday 15 February, 2017

6.00pm – 7.30pm 

Location: Allam Lecture Theatre 

The Centre for Systems Studies at Hull University Business School is delighted to host an inspirational lecture by the award-winning writer and television presenter Andrea Wulf, exploring the extraordinary life of the visionary German naturalist and polymath Alexander von Humboldt. His name lingers everywhere from the Humboldt Current to the Humboldt penguin. Perceiving nature as an interconnected global force, he discovered patterns between climate zones across the world and predicted human-induced climate change. He turned scientific observation into poetic narrative, and his writings inspired naturalists and poets such as Darwin, Wordsworth and Goethe but also politicians such as Jefferson. 

Wulf’s beautifully illustrated talk brings this lost hero of science and the forgotten father of environmentalism back to life. In revealing the extent to which Humboldt created the way we understand nature, the talk celebrates the profound nature of systems thinking and its relevance for addressing the environmental and global issues that we face today.  

The Annual Mike Jackson lecture has been made possible by the support of University of Hull honorary graduate, Dr Andrew Chen. It is in recognition of the work of Professor Mike Jackson OBE, founding dean of Hull University Business School, who served from 1999 until 2011 and is world-renowned for his work applying systems thinking to management. 

About the speaker 

Andrea Wulf is a celebrated speaker at international venues including the Royal Society, the Royal Geographical Society, the American Philosophical Society, Monticello and the New York Public Library. The author of five highly acclaimed books, Ms Wulf has a strong media presence, speaking on the radio and writing for several newspapers, notably the Guardian, LA Times, WSJ, The Atlantic and New York Times. British audiences will be familiar with her as the co-presenter of the BBC’s four-part garden series in 2014. 

Her talk at the at the Annual Mike Jackson lecture is based on ‘The Invention of Nature’ which won the Royal Society Science Book Prize 2016, the Costa Biography Award 2015 and the Royal Geographical Ness Award 2016 in the UK, as well as the inaugural James Wright Award for Nature Writing 2016 (Nature Conservancy) and LA Times Book Prize 2016 in the US. 
Further information can be found in this short film ‘The Invention of Nature’ and at 

About The Centre for Systems Studies 

The Centre for Systems Studies is Hull University Business School’s nexus for inter-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary research on complex socio-economic systems. As an international centre of excellence for ground breaking research on systems thinking and practice, the Centre has strong links with other research institutes and with practitioners in public, private and third-sector organisations. 

The Centre’s research is concerned with advancing the understanding of phenomena in our inter-connected world – from the emergence of local community action and business ecosystems through to the impact of global policy interventions and climate change. This work is critical for addressing complex problem situations and anticipating the (often unintended) consequences of interventions, and for designing structures, actions and strategies for innovation, resilience and sustainability in dynamic contexts. 

The increasingly networked world and the digital economy present novel challenges and opportunities to business and society. The Centre hosts research meetings, seminars and workshops for academics and practitioners to explore and address these challenges and opportunities. 

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