Guest Speaker Series

Discover the great line-up of guest speakers we will be hosting on our campuses. In order to ensure that our students never lose sight of the different reality that so many others in the world experience on a daily basis, we feel it is important to expose them to first hand testimony from people with personal stories that challenge their world view.

Talks have so far covered topics as diverse and wide ranging as environmental issues, race relations, human and civil rights, conflict and reconciliation, science, the problem of homelessness and even Ancient Greek philosophy!

Many of our speakers are household names such as IVF pioneer Professor Lord Robert Winston, politician Vince Cable, Pascal Couchepin and David Lammy, feminist and academic Germaine Greer, pioneer Bertrand Piccard, astronaut Al Worden, journalists Jon Snow, Nick Robinson and Gary Gibbon, cartoonists Chappatte and Plantu, authors Gillian Slovo and John Carlin, Nobel prizewinner Jacques Dubochet, and athletes Hannah Cockcroft, Graeme Le Saux or Howard Gayle.

Others, such as Holocaust survivor Eva Schloss, human rights activist Marina Litvinenko, and anti-FGM activist Leyla Hussein deserve more recognition. Click here for the full list of past speakers.

Owing to the Covid-19 pandemic and the rules currently in place to protect the health of Ecolint students and staff, we can currently only allow a limited number of external participants to our Guest Speaker Series. When possible, we will endeavour to livestream the conferences. If you are interested in attending one of the lectures, please register by clicking on the links next to each speaker.

Upcoming 2021-2022 Speakers

Speaker Date & Time Description

Pamela Ohene-Nyako

Photo: Ashley Moponda

11 January 2022

Time TBC

Auditorium, Centre des arts

Pamela Ohene-Nyako is a doctoral researcher and assistant in the History Department of the University of Geneva. She is currently preparing a thesis on the internationalism of black-European women in the 1970s-1990s, and her research has been published in English and French scientific publications. She is also the founder of Afrolitt’, a bilingual literary platform that promotes and encourages a critical reflection on literature produced by people of African descent. 

Since 2013, Ohene-Nyako has gained professional experience in communications and moderation, appearing regularly on Swiss media on questions linked with antiracism and afrofreminism. As a historian and cultural critic, she hosts the news chronicle “Soul Feed” in the programme Nayuno on Couleur 3 - RTS.
Ohene-Nyako will give a conference entitled “Antiracist mobilisations by black women in Africa, 1970-2000”.

Maboula Soumahoro

18 January 2022

Time TBC

Auditorium, Centre des arts

Maboula Soumahoro has a PhD in civilisations of the English-speaking world, and is specialised in Afro-American studies and the Black African diaspora. In addition to lecturing at the University of Tours, she has also studied and taught at a number of academic institutions and prisons in France and the United States: Bennington College, Columbia University, Barnard College, Bard Prison Initiative, Stanford University, Sciences Po (Paris and Reims), and the prisons of Bois-d’Arcy, Villepinte (children’s ward) and Fresnes. 

From 2013 to 2016, Soumahoro was a member of the Comité National pour l’Histoire et la Mémoire de l’Esclavage (CNMHE), and since 2013, is president of the Black History Month (BHM) association, which is dedicated to celebrating the black history and culture. In 2020, she published Le Triangle de l’Hexagone, réflexions sur une identité noire.

Soumahoro will give a conference entitled “Racialisation défavorable et charge raciale : le cas d’une identité noire.”

Anna Birley

January 2022 (Date TBC)

Time TBC

Anna Birley is Policy Officer at The Co-Operative Party and co-founder of Reclaim These Streets, an organisation dedicated to making streets safe for women by advocating against street harassment of women and girls and raising awareness about violence against women and girls through education.

Birley studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics at the University of Durham.

Ana Waddington

22 February 2022

Time TBC

Ana Waddington is an emergency department nurse and founder of YourStance, a volunteer organisation that teaches young people lifesaving first aid skills. She was named Royal College of Nursing Nurse of the Year in 2020 for innovations in nursing. 

Waddington trained as a nurse after obtaining a History degree from SOAS University of London. She is an alumna of La Grande Boissière (class of 2007).

Paul Canoville & Chris Powell

22 February 2022

Time TBC

Primary Aula, La Châtaigneraie

Paul Canoville is an English former professional footballer. He was the first black player to play for Chelsea Football Club, signing with them in 1981, receiving a negative reception from racist elements among supporters. He later went on to play for Reading FC, then in the Second Division, and made appearances with Enfield, Maidenhead United, Northwood and Egham Town. After beating a crack cocaine addiction and cancer, Canoville went on to author an award-winning autobiography, Black and Blue: How Racism, Drugs and Cancer Almost Destroyed Me (2008). In 2015, Sky Sports aired Black & Blue: The Paul Canoville Story, a documentary film about his life.

Chris Powell is an English football coach and former player, currently the assistant manager at Tottenham Hotspur and a coach for the English national team. He is an ambassador for various organisations, including Kick it Out, Show Racism the Red Card, Prostate Cancer UK and the Football Foundation.

Jocelyn Bell Burnell

February 2022 (Date TBC)

Time TBC

Jocelyn Bell Burnell is an astrophysicist from Northern Ireland who discovered the first radio pulsars in 1967 while studying as a postgraduate student. While this discovery later earned the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1974, she was not among the recipients (Bell Burnell was listed as second author in the paper announcing the discovery). She is currently Visiting Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Oxford.

From 2002 to 2004, Bell Burnell served as president of the Royal Astronomical Society, then as president of the Institute of Physics from 2008 to 2010. In 2018, she was awarded the Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, the £2.3 million prize for which she donated fully to help female, minority and refugee students seeking to study physics. In 2021, she became the second female recipient of the Copley Medal.

Zarghuna Kargar

February 2022 (Date TBC)

Time TBC

Zarghuna Kargar is an award-winning BBC World News. She produced and presented the BBC Afghan Woman’s Hour and is the author of Dear Zari, The Secret Lives of Women in Afghanistan (2012), which tells the stories of Afghan women in their own words.

Kargar is also the author of Amina’s story in the 2013 documentary Girl Rising.

Dawn Butler

Photo: Richard Townshend

March/April 2022 (Date TBC)

Time TBC

Primary Aula, La Châtaigneraie

Dawn Butler is a British Labour Party politician and the Member of Parliament for Brent Central since 2015. From 2009 to 2010, she served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Cabinet Office and Minister for Young Citizens and Youth Engagement in Gordon Brown’s government. In 2016 and 2017, she was appointed to the role of Shadow Minister for Black and Minority Ethnic Communities, and then served as Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities.

Butler has received a number of awards for her work in support of underrepresented people. In 2020, she was named one of the 25 most influential women in the UK by Vogue.

Jackie Long

March/April 2022 (Date TBC)

Time TBC

Primary Aula, La Châtaigneraie

Jackie Long is Social Affairs Editor and presenter for Channel 4 News, which she joined in 2011 after over two decades at the BBC. 

Long was also correspondent at Newsnight and previously worked on The World at One, PM and Five Live. 

Jonathan Cohen

March/April 2022 (Date TBC)

Time TBC

Salle Rousseau, Campus des Nations

Jonathan Cohen is Executive Director of the peacebuilding organisation Conciliation Resources (CR). He joined CR in 1997 and developed the Caucasus programme focusing on dialogue and confidence building initiatives to promote peacebuilding in the Caucasus. As CR's director of programmes, he oversaw the organisation's activity in the Caucasus, Colombia, West Africa, East and Central Africa, the Horn of Africa, the Philippines, Fiji and India/Pakistan.

Before working for CR, Cohen served as deputy director of the Foundation on Inter-Ethnic Relations in The Hague, working with the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities. He has taught peace and conflict studies at the London School of Economics, and in 2007 was awarded an OBE by the British Government for services to conflict prevention and conflict resolution in the Caucasus. In 2018 Cohen became chair of the European Peacebuilding Liaison Office (EPLO) Steering Committee.

Maya Goodfellow

March 2022 (Date TBC)

Time TBC

Maya Goodfellow is a writer and academic, specialising in the relationships between race, bordering and capitalism. She is currently Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow at SPERI, the University of Sheffield. Her work is particularly concerned with the politics of 'the centre' and the material elements of racism.

Goodfellow’s first book Hostile Environment: How Immigrants Became Scapegoats was published in 2020 and was longlisted for the Jhalak Prize. Drawing on archival research, it charts the history of the UK's immigration policy and rhetoric, examining the racialised nature of both, and analyses and challenges the anti-immigration arguments that have been widely accepted in mainstream UK politics. 

Goodfellow received her PhD from SOAS, University of London in 2019. Her doctoral thesis explored race and processes of racialisation in British international development discourse about India between 1997-2017. At SOAS she also taught in the departments of Politics and International Studies and Development Studies. Goodfellow has written for The Guardian, New Statesman and The New York Times and regularly appears on the BBC and Sky News.

Tanya Heidrich

March 2022 (Date TBC)

Time TBC

Tanya Heidrich is an artist, designer and muralist, best known for her black and white patterns of infinite variety. Based in Valencia, Spain, Heidrich works across numerous media, including pattern design, illustration, mural painting and fine art. Her art has been commissioned for city murals, private collections and international publications.

Known among artists as Stillo Noir, Heidrich studied at the Maryland Institute College of Art, specialising in graphic design. She is an alumna of La Châtaigneraie (class of 2010).

Daniel Egger

26 April 2022

Time TBC

Daniel Egger is Chief Commercial Office at Climeworks, a company that develops, builds and operates Direct Air Capture machines to capture carbon dioxide from the air and recycle or reuse it as raw material or store it, thereby contributing to the reduction of CO2 emissions.

Egger holds an MSc from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich and has held different positions in engineering, marketing and sales in various industrial companies, such as ABB. 

He will give a talk entitled "Direct Air Capture: A Technology to Reverse Climate Change."

Jerry Rothwell

Date TBC

Time TBC

Jerry Rothwell is a British documentary filmmaker, best known for his award-winning films How to Change the World (2015) about the founders of Greenpeace, Town of Runners (2012) about two girls in an Ethiopian village who want to become track athletes, Donor Unknown (2010) about sperm donor Jeffrey Harrison and his many offspring, Heavy Load (2008) about people with learning disabilities who form a punk band, and Deep Water (2006) about Donald Crowhurst’s ill-fated voyage in the 1968 round-the-world yacht race. In 2016, he co-directed the documentary Sour Grapes about the largest wine-fraud case in history.

Rothwell had won numerous awards from a number of international film festivals.

Jewan Abdi

Date TBC

Time TBC

Jewan Abdi is a journalist, news producer and cameraman for the BBC, and Emmy award-winner who has covered news on the impact of conflicts in the Middle East, and primarily about the Islamic State in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Libya, and most recently in the Philippines. He has also reported on news in Europe. 

Leroy Logan

Date TBC

Time TBC

Leroy Logan, MBE, is a British author, founding member and chair of the Black Police Association, and a retired superintendent from the Metropolitan Police. He is best known for his contributions to law enforcement in the United Kingdom. His first book, Closing Ranks, My Life as a Cop (2020), details his time as a senior police officer in London. In 2020, the historical drama about Logan’s life, Red, White and Blue, was released in 2020.

As chair of the Black Police Association, Logan was involved in the Stephen Lawrence and Damilola Taylor inquiries into errors committed by the police in the investigation of the murder of black British teenager Stephen Lawrence and Nigerian schoolboy Damilola Taylor.

Open Arms Rescue

Date TBC

Time TBC

Open Arms is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation that conducts search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean sea. In addition to protecting those attempting to reach Europe by sea, Open Arms also conducts awareness campaigns among migrants about the risks of undertaking a sea journey. 

In 2016, Open Arms was awarded the H.E.R.O. Award for Outstanding Team Contribution to a Maritime SAR Operations by the International Maritime Rescue Federation, and the European Citizen’s Prize by the European Parliament.

Open Arms will give a talk in Spanish.

Reeta Chakrabarti

Date TBC

Time TBC

Reeta Chakrabarti is a British journalist, newsreader and correspondent for BBC News, best known for presenting BBC News at One, BBC News at Six, BBC News at Ten and BBC Weekend News. In addition to reporting extensively in the UK and abroad, Chakrabarti has chaired and hosted numerous corporate events, including the 2003 and 2004 Education Television Awards dinners for the Royal Television Society and the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting at Buckingham Palace. 

Chakrabarti is a patron of Pan Intercultural Arts and of the Oxford University Media Society. She is also a trustee for the Keats Shelley Memorial Association. Chakrabarti studied English and French at Exeter College, Oxford. She is an honorary fellow of Exeter College, University College London and University of East London.

Steve Cram

Photo: Adambro

Date TBC

Time TBC

Steve Cram, CBE, is a British retired track and field athlete and one of the world’s dominant middle distance runners during the 1980s. Nicknamed “The Jarrow Arrow”, Cram set world records in the 1500m, 2000m and the mile run in 1985, and was the first man to run 1500m under 3 minutes and 30 seconds. He won the 1500m gold medal at the 1983 World Championships and the 1500m silver medal at the 1984 Olympic Games. He now works as a television presenter, athletics commentator for BBC Sport and motivation speaker.

In 2000, Cram co-founded Comrades of Children Overseas (COCO), an international charity providing sustainable sources of quality education to children living in poor or remote parts of East Africa. 


Past Speakers

International Bridges to Justice

International Bridges to Justice (IBJ) is an organisation dedicated to protecting the basic legal rights of ordinary citizens in developing countries. Specifically, IBJ works to guarantee all citizens the right to competent legal representation, the right to be protected from cruel and unusual punishment, and the right to a fair trial.

Karen Tse, CEO and Founder of IBJ, Noah Wong, Founder and President of the Youth for Youth Justice initiative, and Ella O'Reilly, Youth Program Manager at IBJ, will give a lecture entitled "Access to Justice and the Power of Youth".

Dawn Astle

Dawn Astle is the daughter of former England and West Bromwich Albion footballer Jeffrey Astle, who died in 2002 from a degenerative brain disease. Working alongside the Professional Footballer’s Association, Dawn Astle has helped raise awareness about brain injury in sports and neurodegenerative diseases that can result from these in athletes.

In addition to her ongoing work, Dawn is also co-founder, together with other members of Astle’s family, of the Jeff Astle Foundation, dedicated to promoting care of athletes who suffer from neurodegenerative diseases, education about these disorders and research into them.

Watch the interview of Dawn Astle by The Update

Jennifer Cole

Jennifer Cole is a biological anthropologist and research fellow in the Department of Geography and Centre for Research into Sustainability of Royal Holloway, University of London. Her research interests include human health and behaviour with regard to evolutionary and population biology, resilience (at individual, community, national and international levels and in response to natural hazards such as disease outbreaks), and information spread (namely how health information is sought out, shared and trusted during emergencies). 

Cole is also the Northern Europe Hub Coordinator for the Planetary Health Alliance, a member of the editorial board of the Global Journal of Medicine and Public Health, an infodemic manager for the World Health Organization and a geography recorder for the British Science Association.

Clint Smith

Photo: New America

Clint Smith is an American writer, poet and scholar, the author of Counting Descent (2016), a poetry collection that won the Best Poetry Book award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. His latest book, How the Word Is Passed, topped The New York Times Best Seller list in June 2021. 

Smith is also a staff writer at The Atlantic and host of Crash Course’s Black American History series. He previously contributed to The New Yorker magazine and to the Pod Save the People podcast. Smith graduated from Davidson College in 2010 with a Bachelors in English and received his PhD from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. His dissertation focused on race, mass incarceration and education.

David Nabarro

Photo: DIALOG-Entwicklung

David Nabarro, CBE, is a Special Envoy on Covid-19 for the World Health Organization (WHO) and international civil servant, working closely both with the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Director-General of the WHO. Over the past 20 years, he has played strategic roles in the response to a number of epidemics, including the cholera outbreak in Haiti in 2016-2017, the Ebola outbreak in Guinea (2014-2015), and the avian influenza epidemic of 2005.

Nabarro studied at the University of Oxford and the University of London, qualifying as a physician in 1973. In 2018, he was appointed Professor at the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London, and then co-director of the same Institute.

SOS Méditerranée

SOS Méditerranée is a non-profit association created in 2015 to provide search and rescue at sea and help migrants attempting to flee Libya by crossing the Mediterranean aboard makeshift vessels. Between February 2016 and December 2018, SOS Méditerranée chartered the Aquarius, with which it rescued over 29 000 people. Since July 2019, the association has operated on the Ocean Viking, a ship specially designed for search and rescue operations and equipped with a clinic and shelters for rescued persons. 

Claire Juchat, Head of citizen mobilisation and online communication for SOS Méditerranée, gave a conference entitled “Faces and journeys along the Mediterranean migration route.” 

Carly McLachlan

Photo: Tyndall Centre

Carly McLachlan is the Director of Tyndall Manchester, an interdisciplinary team working on policy relevant research on climate change. Based in the School of Engineering of the University of Manchester, her research interests focus on how stakeholders, including the public, engage with energy and sustainability issues and how 'evidence' is used within this. Her previous research projects, completed as part of Tyndall's interdisciplinary team, have covered a range of topics including: setting carbon budgets and targets for cities, stakeholder engagement with integrated climate change models, stakeholder assessments of carbon capture and storage, an assessment of the UK's tidal energy policy and adaptation and mitigation in the UK food system. 

McLachlan is also Associate Director of the ESRC Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformation (CAST).

Nick Cullen

Photo: Stop Climate Chaos Scotland

Nick Cullen is the COP Logistics Officer for Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, a coalition of civil society organisations in Scotland campaigning for action to tackle climate change. As part of his role, he manages logistics and coordination for the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26) held in Glasgow.

Cullen has a Masters degree in International Development and is involved in research projects on activism, migration and humanitarianism.

Watch the lecture here.

Valerie Connaughton

Valerie Connaughton is Program Scientist for the  X-Ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission (XRISM), leads the High-Energy portfolio of the Astrophysics Division at NASA Headquarters, is Discipline Scientist for the Particle Astrophysics portfolio, Program Scientist for the Physics of the Cosmos Program, and is a member of the Astrophysics Division communications team.

Connaughton obtained her Ph.D. from University College Dublin in the area of ground-based gamma-ray astronomy, after which she took up a National Research Council postdoctoral fellowship at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, working as part of the Burst And Transient Source Experiment (BATSE). Her research interests include multi-messenger time-domain astronomy, gamma-ray bursts, terrestrial gamma-ray flashes, and high-energy astrophysics in general. Connaughton is an alumna of La Châtaigneraie (class of '85).

She gave a lecture entitled "How to build a career helping NASA study the biggest explosions in the Universe."

Rachel Asante-Osuwu

Rachel Asante-Owusu is Programme Manager at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). She has been a member of the Business and Biodiversity Programme (BBP) at the IUCN since May 2010, managing the relationship between the IUCN and the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) and overseeing the BBP’s communication strategy.

Prior to joining the IUCN, Asante-Owusu worked for an environmental consultancy addressing ethical and sustainable trade issues. She started her career in the field of biotechnology after studying Genetics and Plant Breeding at University of Wales, Aberystwyth, followed by a Doctorate of Philosophy in Molecular Biology at the University of Oxford.

She hosted a live feed from the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) conference at Glasgow.

Watch the interview of Rachel Asante-Osuwu by The Update

Levi Tafari

Photo: Stephan Rohl

Levi Tafari is a British poet, actor and self-identified Urban Griot (traditional West African historian, storyteller, newscaster or musician). He is best known for his four collections of poetry, Duboetry (1987), Liverpool Experience (1989), Rhyme Don’t Pay (1998) and From the Page to the Stage (2006), and his plays have been performed in theatres in Stafford and Liverpool. 

In addition to writing and composing music, Tafari also runs creative writing workshops in schools, colleges, universities and prisons, both in the United Kingdom and abroad. 


Five years in the making, CURED illuminates a pivotal yet largely unknown chapter in the struggle for LGBTQ equality: the campaign that led the American Psychiatric Association (APA) to remove homosexuality from its manual of mental illnesses. 

Incorporating newly unearthed archival material - much of it unseen for decades - CURED takes audiences inside this narrative to chronicle the strategy and tactics that led to a crucial turning point in the movement for LGBTQ rights. Following the Stonewall rebellion of 1969, the battle that culminated in the APA’s decision marked the first major step on the path to first-class citizenship for LGBTQ Americans. CURED sheds new light on this victory - which was far from inevitable - while situating the APA story within the larger context of the modern movement for LGBTQ equality.

The Techtonics

The Techtonics are an all-male a capella group from Imperial College London, best known for winning the International Championship of Collegiate A Capella in 2016. The group performed their first concert at ArtsFest, the annual celebration of the arts at Imperial College London in 2009. In 2010, the group performed for the first time in Edinburgh’s Fringe festival.

The Techtonics have toured in the United Kingdom, United States, Hong Kong, Canada and Croatia since 2010, and are known for busking weekly on Portobello Road.

Karla Ruiz Cofiño

Karla Ruiz Cofiño is a digital strategist and social media specialist, entrepreneur, speaker, social and women’s rights activist. She is the founder of the Digital Awareness Program, a curriculum that centres on using digital media for positive impact by teaching digital citizenship skills that enable people to harness social media and digital strategies for bettering the world. 

Over the past 15 years, Ruiz Cofiño has studied the impact of technology on the evolution of human beings, how it affects the way we relate to each other and our behaviour as consumers. Co-founder of the digital agency MILKnCOOKIES, she is also a social media consultant for the Global Ambassadors Program of Vital Voices and Bank of America. Ruiz Cofiño is founding curator both of the World Economic Forum Global Shapers Guatemala and of the Women Entrepreneurs Community – Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Guatemala.