What we know - what we can

'What we know - what we can' are a series of talks developed in collaboration between the Danish newspaper Politiken, the University of Copenhagen and the Carlsberg Foundation with support from the Carlsberg Memorial Grant. The talks present some of the world's most important voices in international top research and societal debate. This is dissemination of the latest knowledge within a wide range of scientific disciplines such as medicine, climate research, urbanisation, evolution and robotics in the face of current global issues. Participation is free of charge, but registration is required. See the calendar for the next events.

Talk by Karen Seto: How will urban growth challenge the planet and the environment?

1.3 million people. That’s how much the world's total urban population grows every single week all year round. What are the consequences of this explosive population growth on the climate, food systems and our ability to create sustainability? And how do we best deal with the development?

One of the world's largest urbanisation experts, Professor Karen Seto of Yale University in the US, gave some answers to these questions when she gave a IARU talk in the Ceremonial Hall of the University of Copenhagen on 2 May. Seto’s research shows that urbanisation will hit China and India in the extreme with the total urban population growing to more than 2 billion in 2050.

Read more about the talk here (only in Danish).

Talk by John Mearsheimer: Will a strengthened China threaten world peace?

See John Mearsheimer's talk

If China's significant economic growth continues, it is more than likely that the USA and China will be plunged into a fierce security struggle, which could turn into a real military conflict. The claim comes from the world-renowned American professor of international politics at the University of Chicago John Mearsheimer, who has written the book 'The Tragedy of Great Power Politics'.

Based on historical experience and geopolitical research, Mearsheimer predicts that an ever-richer China will raise its military spending significantly in the coming years in order to dominate in Asia. The US cannot ignore this development and therefore has to forge military alliances in Asia against China. And then we have the risk of a direct confrontation, Mearsheimer says.

See the talk here

Talk by Margaret E. Roberts: Social media - in the service of democracy?

See Margaret E. Roberts' talk

For example, who has the responsibility to control the political battlefield when it is used to restrict and monitor citizens' access to information? Should social media assume a greater responsibility? What should democratic governments do?

Social media provide a new political arena where many want to mobilise followers – and far from everyone wants democracy. On 6 December 2017, the American star scientist Margaret E. Roberts of the University of California gave a IARU talk on the use and blocking of social media for political purposes.

See the talk here.

Talk and debate with Guy Standing: Universal basic income - utopia or necessity?

See Guy Standing’s talk.

Is economic security a fundamental need or a utopia? A growing group of people are living under volatile conditions with short-term appointments that provide neither a stable income nor social protection. Guy Standing has named this group of vulnerable the precariat, which, before long, is bound to rebel. But, says the professor, they can be drawn back in by means of a universal basic income.

Economics Professor Guy Standing from the Univesity of London gave a talk on his latest research on basic income in the Ceremonial Hall on 3 October 2017. See and hear why and how he thinks this concept should be introduced into society.

Listen to the podcast here.

Talk and debate with Morten Kringelbach: The hedonist - art and science in the brain

See Morten Kringelbach’s talk.

What is it in our brain that makes us enjoy music, sex, food and art? Brain scientist and professor at Oxford University Morten Kringelbach has for many years conducted research into pleasure in our brain. In his IARU talk Kringelbach told the audience what is going on in our brain when we feel pleasure and how it has ensured our survival.

See Morten Kringelbach’s talk on ‘The hedonist’ and hear how power or music might help schizophrenics, war veterans or parents with postnatal depression.

Listen to the podcast here.

Talk and debate with Eske Willerslev: Where do we come from?

See Eske Willerslev’s talk.

How much do we know about where we come from? The famous evolutionary biologist at Cambridge University and the University of Copenhagen Eske Willerslev is the leading scientist when it comes to looking at the DNA of everything from ancient bones to ice cores. In addition, he can provide new answers to questions such as: Why did mammoths become extinct? Who were the first people in America? Where do we come from?

illerslev's research has rewritten the prehistory of man in Australia, USA and Greenland.
See the DNA detective Eske Willerslev's talk on 'Where do we come from?' from 25 April where he dives into the latest research about our ancestors. And find answers to how sex could be the key to better integration. Why does milk make the Danes something special? And what separates the Vikings from our other ancestors?

Listen to the podcast here.

Talk and debate with Timothy Garton Ash: Populism, Europe's disintegration and the need for freedom of speech

See Timothy Garton Ash’s talk

Brexit. Trump. Le Pen. Right-wing populists and nationalists are rapidly gaining ground in the western world and Europe was facing crucial elections in France, Germany and the Netherlands in 2017. How bad can it be? Is the European project headed for meltdown? And how is freedom of speech necessary for democracy today?

See the world-renowned British historian from Oxford University and Guardian columnist Timothy Garton Ash’s suggestions on how we should deal with today’s major challenges.
Timothy Garton Ash gave a talk in the Ceremonial Hall at the University of Copenhagen on 21 February 2017. He was introduced by Carlsberg Foundation Chairman, Flemming Besenbacher with journalist Mette Højbjerg moderating the subsequent question & answer session.

Listen to the podcast here.