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Shaping a Better World

Virtual Academic debate and discussion

Amidst this period of global change, vibrant academic debate and discussion continues at Queen’s, virtually. Here we share a range of recent virtual talks, podcasts and articles.

TEDxQueensUniversityBelfast ‘Engineering our Sustainable Future'

TEDxQueensUniversityBelfast 'Engineering our Sustainable Future' showcases the staff, students and alumni of the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences.

‘Engineering our Sustainable Future’ offers a glimpse of the innovation, creativity and discovery taking place; highlighting exciting projects and ideas, involving technology, design, people and natural resources, that may help engineer a more sustainable future for all.

'Justice in a Pandemic' with The Honourable Mrs Justice Keegan

The Chief Executives' Club at Queen's were delighted to host Justice Keegan to share her reflections on the justice system, and specifically how it reacted to the COVID pandemic.

The High Court Judge was welcomed by Professor Richard English, Pro Vice-Chancellor of Internationalisation and Engagement, and the Q&A was facilitated by Dr Marek Martyniszyn, Interim Head of the School of Law.

In Conversation with Jonathan Powell

Queen's University welcomes Jonathan Powell, Founder and CEO Inter/Mediate, for an 'In Conversation' event hosted by Prof. Richard English

Delivered live from Queen's University's Great Hall, the event was streamed to an online audience.

‘Beyond Coronavirus: How Does The World Recover?’

Queen’s University Belfast was delighted to host Professor Henrietta Moore, Founder and Director of the Institute for Global Prosperity, UCL, to deliver a keynote address ‘Beyond Coronavirus: How Does The World Recover?'.

The event examined the health and socio-economic impact of Covid-19 in the most vulnerable countries, and featured reflections by Professor Diarmuid O’Donovan, Clinical Professor, School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Queen’s University Belfast.

Reflections on Female Leadership

In Conversation with Leaders of the NI Executive and Civil Service. May 10 2021

The Chief Executives’ Club at Queen’s University Belfast hosted ‘Reflections on Female Leadership’, an in-conversation event with the three women who hold the top political and administrative roles in Northern Ireland.

The First Minister, Arlene Foster, the Deputy First Minister, Michelle O’Neill, and the interim Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, Jenny Pyper, shared their leadership journeys and experiences. The event was chaired by Professor Karen McCloskey, Director of Queen's Gender Initiative and Professor of Physiology at the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences.

The Partition of Ireland: Causes and Consequences

In order to mark the centenary of the partitioning of Ireland, Queen’s University Belfast is organising and hosting a major series of online public talks.

The series addresses a diverse range of major themes, including the complex origins and legacies of partition, the Irish border in literature, the experience of minorities, and class-based and gender-based perspectives.

Listen to the talks

Beyond Decision 2020

In Conversation With Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton

Watch the online event here which was broadcast on Thursday 15 April as US Consul General Elizabeth Kennedy Trudeau is ‘in conversation’ with Queen’s University Chancellor, Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton.

With reflections on the challenges facing the new administration, the future relationship with Northern Ireland and the broader UK and the role of women in politics today, this will be a unique opportunity to hear from Secretary Clinton on these issues.

Partition and The Limits of Irish Commemoration

Reflections on 1921

Partition and the Limits of Irish Commemoration: Reflections on 1921. Online keynote address given by Professor Ian McBride, Foster Professor of Irish History at University of Oxford, on Wednesday, 31 March 2021, with Q&A hosted by Professor Richard English, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Queen's University Belfast.

Post-Brexit Northern Ireland: Living with the Protocol

Join us for a special panel discussion with some of the key journalists and academics who, for the past few years, have been guiding us through all things Brexit.

With David Phinnemore and Katy Hayward from Queen’s University Belfast, Lisa O’Carroll from The Guardian, Naomi O’Leary from The Irish Times and BBC NI’s John Campbell.

TEDx Give Back | Move Forward

Friday 26 February 2021

This year's TEDxQueensUniversityBelfast conference showcases our community - the staff, students and alumni of Queen’s University Belfast - who as they move forward with their own work, study, research and life are, in a wide range of ways, giving back and making a meaningful and positive contribution to society, locally and globally.


“Teaching without God: The Retreat of Religion and the Rise of the Humanities in American Liberal Education.”

Thursday, 25 February 2021

A Lecture by Professor James Turner, Cavanaugh Professor of Humanities and Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame, followed by a live Q&A session.

The Chief Executive's Club at Queen's: Leading through a Pandemic

In this lecture hosted by the Chief Executives' Club at Queen's, Michael Dowling reflects on his experience of leading New York State's largest healthcare provider and private employer Northwell Health, through the COVID-19 pandemic.

He shares details of how the clinical and administrative teams at the New York-based private system prepared years in advance and stepped up during the height of the pandemic. They treated nearly 100,000 COVID-19 patients to date. The event took place on 24 February 2021.

Frank Wright Memorial Lecture

The 2021 Frank Wright Memorial Lecture delivered by Professor Cécile Fabre, Professor of Political Philosophy, All Souls College, University of Oxford, on 5 February 2021.

Lecture Title: “Snatching Something From Death" Value, Justice, and Humankind’s Common Heritage.

Introduction by Dr Keith Breen, Senior Lecturer in Political Theory, Queen's University Belfast

The Dame Ingrid Allen Lecture (Annual Gender Equality Lecture)

The Gender Equality Office, School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences welcomed Professor Parveen Yaqoob as the Keynote Speaker of the annual Dame Ingrid Allen Lecture on Friday 29 January 2021.

Professor Yaqoob delivered an inspirational, honest and insightful event, sharing her personal experiences of her life and career. Professor Yaqoob discussed how growing up in a culture skewed towards valuing boys became her foundation for equality and leadership. This virtual event was attended by almost 200 staff, students and external delegates and feedback received has been excellent.

Beyond Coronavirus: Vaccination and the COVID-19 Pandemic

Beyond Coronavirus: Vaccination and the COVID-19 Pandemic’ took place live online on Thursday 14 January 2021.

The event featured a keynote address from Professor Sheena McCormack, Clinical Project Lead for the COVAC trials, MRC Clinical Trials Unit at UCL, with a response from Dr Mark Flear, Reader in Law, Queen’s University Belfast, followed by a discussion chaired by Ann Watt, Director of Pivotal Public Policy Forum.

Reflections on the Centenary of the Government of Ireland Act

Queen’s University Belfast, with the support of both the UK and Irish Governments, is pleased to host an event marking the centenary of the Government of Ireland Act.

The anniversary of this profoundly significant event represents a key moment in the Decade of Centenaries and provides an opportunity to reflect on the shared history of these islands, as well as to consider the progress made since the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.

In conversation with...

Professor Richard English speaks to Prof David Livingstone

In this new episode, Prof Richard English speaks with Prof David Livingstone of QUB on issues raised in the book, "Geographies of knowledge science scale and spatiality in the nineteenth century'' - inspired by Prof Livingstone's academic work and contributions over his career.

The new podcast from Queen's University Belfast and University of Ulster telling the untold stories of generations of Irish women who saw their American Dream become a nightmare.

Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, this project led by Leanne McCormick (Ulster University) and Elaine Farrell (Queen’s University Belfast) focuses on the sexually deviant woman, the bad mother and the criminal Irish woman in Boston, New York and Toronto.

Find out more

The US Election and Foreign Policy: Implications for N.Ireland

3 December 2020

Facilitated by Professor Richard English, PVC Queen’s University Belfast, and featured panellists Elizabeth Kennedy Trudeau (US Consul General in Belfast), Rory Montgomery, and Jonathan Powell (both Honorary Professors at Queen's). It was introduced by Dr Julie Norman of University College London, and was organised in partnership with UCL Centre on US Politics, with support from the US Department of State, as part of their series DECISION 2020: Interpreting the US Elections.

Killing strangers: How Political Violence became modern

Prof Richard English speaks with Dr Tim Wilson about his latest book.

Dr Tim Wilson is a historian who is interested in the questions surrounding where the violence of terrorism has come from, and how it is different from (or similar to) what has gone before. He is director of the Handa Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at the University of St Andrews and Senior Lecturer in International Relations.

Brexit and the Economy in Northern Ireland

Chaired by John Campbell, Professor David Phinnemore and Professor Katy Hayward

The panel will be joined by Angela McGowan, Director of CBI NI and Ann McGregor MBE, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry for this panel discussion. The experienced panel members will pool their collective knowledge of EU legislation, the Brexit process and the needs of business to explore what the future is likely to hold for the Northern Ireland economy in a post-Brexit world. This event is part of the ESRC Northern Ireland Festival of Social Science 2020.

Coronavirus and Trauma: Lessons from the Troubles and other events

With Michael Duffy and Ciaran Mulholland, 2 November 2020

Michael Duffy and Ciaran Mulholland discuss the longer-term mental health implications of the pandemic and what lessons we might learn from the Troubles, 9/11 and other events, in a discussion chaired by Dr Anne Campbell.

Listen to the podcast now

Senator George J. Mitchell Institute Annual Peace Lecture 2020

"After Remorse, the Imposibility of Repair" - Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, 29 October 2020

Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela is Professor in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Stellenbosch University. She holds the South African National Research Foundation Chair in Violent Histories and Transgenerational Trauma.

Brexit - Latest Insight and Analysis

With Prof David Phinnemore and Prof Katy Hayward, 29 October 2020

Two of the UK's leading academic experts on Brexit explore the latest developments in the process and discuss the big issues yet to be addressed.

Seamus Heaney's poetry, its impact and aspects of his life

In conversation with...Professor Roy Foster

In this podcast recorded in October 2020, Prof Richard English discusses with Professor Roy Foster of Oxford University, the impact of Seamus Heaney's poetry and aspects of his life. Professor Roy Foster is one of the world's leading historians and biographers.

McCosh Lecture 2020

Networks, Nodes and Nuclei: Towards a New Theory of Religious Change

This lecture was broadcast live in September 2020.  The speaker for this year's lecture is David Hempton (Dean, Harvard Divinity School). This lecture is in partnership with the British Academy and Harvard University.

View lecture


This podcast series looks at conflict and peace-building around the world, from Afghanistan to Ireland, Colombia and South Africa to the Middle East.

Academics from Queen’s University, Belfast, share their experiences and reflections on how societies can transition from conflict to peace and how the traumatic political legacies of conflict can endure and continue to shape political discourse today.

Drawing from a range of expertise, Queen’s academics discuss how factors such as education and economics affect and define conflict, why people join illegal organisations, the definition of `terrorism’ itself and the impact of the marginalisation of women in peace building.

Listen now

Queen's University Covid-19 Research Roundtable video series

In the context of a global pandemic, is sharing our personal data now a societal duty – or is it an intrusion too far?

Does COVID-19 put our food supplies at risk? Are we all in this together, or has the virus exacerbated already existing inequalities? What of those with unrelated health conditions, and what will be the long-term effect on our health service? How will the crisis affect other aspects of society, such as our arts and culture?

In this video series, Professor Emma Flynn, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise at Queen's, talks to academics and practitioners from within and beyond the University, in a series of Roundtable panel discussions. Discussing the challenges facing society and addressing the future, these informal panels begin to plot a course to a post-Covid world. 

Watch the series here

Terrorism in the 20th and 21st Centuries

Professor Richard English, speaks with Professor Bruce Hoffman of Georgetown University about terrorism in the 20th and 21st Centuries.

Listen to Professor Bruce Hoffman, author of the best-selling book, Inside Terrorism, discuss more than four decades of academic research and investigation into terrorism and how it has evolved and changed over that period. Prof Hoffman shares his rich insights into how the nature and threat of terrorism has changed over the decades.

Listen via Apple   Listen via Spotify


In the university’s first TEDx Digital event, academics from across Queen’s have offered informed opinion pieces and reflections on the changes taking place all around us a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The programme of speakers included some of Queen’s University’s healthcare team who are working at the frontline of the pandemic, helping to find ways to support the fight against COVID-19. The event had been designed to offer broader reflections on society, how changes have come about and how people are adapting to lockdown. Our speakers have considered what we may learn from the current situation for beyond the crisis, and how it may influence and bring about changes in the future.

More details

COVID-19 and Food

As well as being a global health crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic is intricately linked with food – from the origins of the virus through to the impact on international food systems, the food industry and the wider economy.

In this podcast series, leading figures from the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen's, focus on the areas where the pandemic has caused the biggest shockwaves, from international disruption to supply and demand to agriculture and environmental sustainability.

Along the way, we assess the impact on animals and wildlife; the opportunity for greater nutrition during lockdown; and how our local food industry is coping.

Listen to Podcast

A History of Pandemics

A new podcast that sheds light on how societies and people across millennia have battled infamous pandemics and plagues - facing many of the same issues that we face today with coronavirus (COVID-19).

Discover new insights into the battle with pandemics and plagues, and how they shape the current world. Listen to the experiences of past societies - how doctors in Ancient Greece died trying to heal patients, how the Black Death spread to Medieval Britain from Asia via northern Italy, how people were forced to self-isolate, and more.

Featuring expert commentary from academics within Queen’s University Belfast’s Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

View Podcast

Conflict and Change: A Conversation with Rory Montgomery and Jonathan Powell

Jonathan Powell and Rory Montgomery have had distinguished careers which have seen them act as key negotiators in conflict resolution from Northern Ireland to the Basque Country and Colombia.

On May 20 2020, in a conversation-style discussion, Professor Richard English, Professor of Politics and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Internationalisation and Engagement at Queen’s University Belfast probed both Rory and Jonathan on their experience of working in environments of conflict, covering topics such as the importance of dialogue and the legacies of the peace process in jurisdictions such as Northern Ireland. They also discussed the relationship between Ireland, the UK and the EU, reflecting on the new context Brexit poses; and finally, how states respond to crisis, challenges and change such as that posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Listen to the Podcast   Watch the video

Shaping a Better World Podcast

The vision of Queen's University Belfast is to be a world class international university that supports outstanding students and staff, working in world class facilities, conducting leading edge education and research, focused on the needs of society.

In our 'Shaping a Better World' podcast series, we highlight some of the students and staff working to make that vision a reality.

You can download audio-only versions of many of our videos, plus our collaborative series with the Pivotal thinktank, from the Spotify and Apple Podcast platforms here:

Spotify | Apple

For more on the first three episodes, visit these pages:

Listen to our Podcasts

Episode 1: COVID-19 and Older People (1 May 2020)
Episode 2: Cancer Care in the era of COVID-19 (13 May 2020)
Episode 3: Immunology and COVID-19 (28 May 2020)

The History Manifesto

A discussion on the role of history in decision making today

This podcast features Harvard University Historian David Armitage, in conversation with Queen's University's Professor Richard English.

It focuses on Professor Armitage's co-authored book The History Manifesto, and considers the role of History in relation to public policy, political decision-making and societal challenges. One of the world's leading historians, Professor Armitage reflects on the implications of his arguments, not least for challenges such as the Coronavirus crisis.

Listen to Podcast

Great Creators Podcast: The Graduate School

Hear diverse stories of entrepreneurship in Northern Ireland.

We’ll feature start-ups, community-led projects and established businesses, hearing them discuss different business models and approaches, the challenges and pivots of entrepreneurial journeys and contain useful and easy-to-implement advice and resources. This podcast is a project by The Graduate School at Queen’s University in partnership with Belfast Design Week.

Listen to Podcast

Sensing Divisions Virtual Conference - 21-22 May 2020

The School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics, and the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice at Queen’s recently hosted a virtual conference exploring human divisions in society.

This digital conference sought to investigate the nature of troubling and persistent divisions in human societies, divisions that perpetuate internal strife and often keep societies from cohering as politics that might produce stable governance.

The virtual event took place from 21-22 May 2020 and was organised by anthropologist, Dr Maruška Svašek from Queen’s, and historian, Professor John Connelly, from the University of California at Berkeley. Professor Connelly was based at Queen’s as Fulbright Fellow from January - April, 2020.

Find out more

Social Charter Podcast

Our Social Charter podcast features interviews with some of the students and staff making a significant contribution to society both locally and further afield.

To hear our experts discuss shared education, sustainability, disability rights and more, subscribe to the series on Spotify or Apple Podcasts here:

Spotify | Apple 

Or visit the series web page for subtitled video versions.


‘True’ Stories: Contesting Narratives of Violence - 25, 26 May 2020

This year’s postgraduate-led conference, hosted by the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice, is entitled ‘True’ Stories: Contesting Narratives of Violence.

The virtual conference brought together academics, activists, and practitioners to explore how, why, and whose stories of experiences of violence are told in deeply divided societies. The conference addressed questions such as: What is a ‘true’ account of experiences of violence? Why are certain accounts privileged, while others are marginalised? What are the implications for peacebuilding and transformation?

More information

At the heart of supporting global efforts to understand Coronavirus (COVID-19)

As the global health crisis has affected the world, researchers in Queen’s have worked to advance our knowledge of the global challenges presented by COVID-19.

We are working to directly tackle the pandemic across a range of aspects. Our world class virology researchers have been working for many years on the biology of viruses. We are now harnessing this knowledge, leading numerous research projects, clinical trials and developing treatments and vaccines, to help tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Brexit: Continuing Insight and Analysis

Informed by years of internationally-recognised research excellence, Queen’s on Brexit brings together leading academics from Queen’s University who provide an authoritative voice on the Brexit process, many policy areas affected by Brexit, and the subsequent impact on Northern Ireland, the island of Ireland, the UK and the EU-27.

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Featured past events and lectures

The University has welcomed some of the world’s leading thinkers and figures, including our Chancellor Hillary Clinton, Michel Barnier, Senator George J. Mitchell, Dr Bill Clinton, Dr Tony Blair, Jonathan Powell, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Dr Bertie Ahern, Jeremy Corbyn MP, scholars from Oxford, Harvard, University of Chicago, and business and community leaders from across the UK and further afield.

Featured Lectures