Category Archives: Geography

OneVoice: Israel and Palestine

Shir and Thuraya, from the OneVoice movement, shared their personal experiences as young Israeli and Palestinian women growing up in the conflict. Their moving testimony shocked us, and brought home to us how different and difficult life in such circumstances must be. Their proposal of a two-state solution, and their rejection of violence, was put with articulacy and conviction, and led to a very interesting discussion.

Allen Pope: Glaciology

Allen Pope, a PhD student from the Scott Polar Institute in Cambridge, gave three lively and engaging talks on his researches into arctic and antarctic ice. He gave us a really good idea of what it was like to live and work in such conditions, and clear insights into some of the issues he’d been looking at, for example evaluating different hypotheses for some strange erosion patterns in rocks left exposed by a retreating glacier.

Simon Singh: The Credibility Spectrum

Science writer, TV presenter and academic Dr Simon Singh MBE gave two talks to our students in the Library. Simon’s talks featured an explanation of the ‘credibility spectrum’ as a filtering process with which to separate the competing claims of myth and fact, relating to a controversial subject such as Climate Change. Simon Singh recently won an important libel ruling at the Court of Appeal over claims he made regarding the work of the British Chiropractic Association, and has written extensively on the subjects of cryptology, mathematical formulae and the history of the universe from the perspective of key players in the field of cosmology.

Frances Wood: China – ancient and modern

Dr Frances Wood (Curator of the Chinese Collections at the British Library) spoke to all three branches of the Williams Project about China today, the speed of change, and how the legacy of the first emperor still lingers. Using photographs from her own time as a student in China during the Cultural Revolution, as well as pictures of ancient manuscripts, she spoke volubly and impeccably (and fast) across a huge range of topics, fielding a large number of perceptive questions from the curious. Many of Chigwell’s Chinese students, and friends from Kingsford Community College (for whom Frances was a bit of a celebrity), were there. The discussions continued long afterwards at Sandon Lodge.

Iraq in recent history

The Revd. David Cooper, our current temporary chaplain, gave a clear and illustrated account, to the youngest and middle branches of the Williams Project, of the Iraq he, as Head of Civil Affairs, was involved in trying to rebuild. He explained the division between the Kurdish north, the Marsh Arabs in the south, and the mixed centre, and gave us a fascinating insight into the plight of the different elements of the Iraqi people both under Saddam Hussain and the American-led invasion & occupation. He discussed the controversy about whether to reflood the drained marshes and give back to the Marsh Arabs their traditional, yet unhealthy and uncomfortable, lifestyle, as well as sharing insights into the reasons for the invasion, and the calibre of George W. Bush.


Mrs Pewsey treated the iiiiv WP to a demonstration of how to make a cloud in a bottle, and how to identify the different types. We also learned about the temporarily-Essex Man Luke Howard, and how he devised from Latin the names we still use to describe clouds. We were all exhorted to join the Cloud Appreciation Society.

At the end we witnessed the current closeness of Jupiter and Venus.

Peak Oil & Transition Towns

Bob Steel, Geographer-extraordinaire, returned for a one-off exposition to the remv WP of the concept of Peak Oil – the moment when world oil production peaks, and from which it’s all downhill. Soaring energy prices, unavailability of food, global conflict: in short a complete change to our oil-based lifestyles were all part of his frightening predictions.

Russia and Georgia

Mr Porter led a iiiiv meeting explaining the background to the recent war in the Caucasus. The WP members then got a chance to produce a news report from each of the following angles: Georgians, Russians, South Ossetians and Americans. Lots to think about, particularly on perspective.

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