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Let's get connected: 'Green' seminar series brings researchers together

Published: 
15 October 2008

A pioneering series of 'virtual' seminars is launched today (15 October 2008), bringing international researchers and academics together to share their expertise and discuss new ideas in the Greenest way possible - by videoconferencing.

The Earth Systems Seminars series (ESS) will be presented by leading academics to a live audience of researchers and students every month, using innovative intellectual approaches and new technologies to explore recent developments in Earth systems. The use of video-conferencing ensures a large international audience at low cost and with zero CO2 emissions.

Focusing on geo-engineering and geo-hazards, this year's seminars will look at a wide range of global scale challenges now facing society - such as climate change - and the growing number of ground-breaking solutions which are being hypothesised, tested with models and even implemented in pilot studies.

The ESS series, organised by the University of Southampton, is the most successful of the 17 similar series which are supported by the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN). The University of Southampton is one of the most active members of WUN.

Since the series started six years ago, around 54 seminars have been arranged in total, with between 150 and 300 attendees at each one - a total of 12,000 seminar attendances to date. Up to 13 WUN members, including universities in the United States, are expected to connect for this series.

This year's series begins on Wednesday 15 October with a look at the economics of geo-engineering options by Klaus Keller of Pennsylvania State University, USA.
The seminar will look at the costs and benefits of the different new ideas that have been proposed to stabilize or even reduce the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Future seminars will cover issues such as saving the Greenland icesheet with geo-engineering; the geological storage of CO2, and deep ocean drilling off Japan to better understand the cause of major earthquakes.

Dr Bob Marsh, a lecturer in the University's School of Ocean and Earth Science, who is organising this year's seminar series, says: "I am not aware of any other sustained seminar series of this kind, so in that sense it is unique. As well as the Green advantages of bringing people together, there are huge benefits to researchers, and to graduate students in particular, from sharing ideas across national boundaries in this way. Our involvement is another illustration of the way the University is internationalising its curriculum, for example by organising student exchanges with other international institutions."

Eleanor Scerri, the University's WUN Co-ordinator, explains: "The seminar series supports WUN's Global Challenges initiative and feeds into its climate change goal. Global Challenges aims to apply combined expertise to address issues of global concern for which solutions lie beyond the reach of a single institution or national boundary.

"This broad exploration from different national, regional and disciplinary perspectives sets WUN apart from other academic networks usually do."

The University of Southampton also leads two other WUN seminar series, one examining a wide range of nursing topics, the other exploring aspects of human origins research.

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