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15 April 2021 17:30-18:45

Building Back Kinder: How Who We Are Affects How We Rebuild

Online public lecture

Speaker: Professor Penny Spikins

Penny is a Professor in the Archaeology of Human Origins at the University of York. Her research has particularly focused on human social and emotional evolution, including the evolution of compassion, self control and egalitarianism, and the origins of healthcare and inclusion. Her recent interests focus on the evolution of human moral emotions and human emotional vulnerability (supported by the John Templeton Foundation), some of which is soon to be published (open access) in ‘Hidden Depths: The Palaeolithic Origins of our most human emotions’ (White Rose University Press).


In recent years we have faced challenges that are global in scale, from the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change to inequality and discrimination. Through this, we increasingly view ourselves as part of a shared humanity, experiencing shared threats. But what does it mean to be human? Will we pull together when the going gets tough or are we naturally competitive?

This talk aims to explore how our answers to these questions and our assumptions about innate competitiveness and aggression have affected the societies we have created in the past few decades. We will turn to evidence from the distant past to see how this can help retrieve our understanding of ourselves. I hope to prompt us to better understand human compassion and vulnerability, and find routes to rebuilding a kinder and more connected society.


This event has finished. You can watch the recording here.