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Events in our 2020-21 Programme:


May 4th 2021: "Sustainable fashion myths"  by Dr Mark Sumner, Retail & Fashion, School of Design, University of Leeds.

click this link to access the recording of Mark's talk


The fashion industry is a complex global business that has significant negative impacts on the environment, workers in the supplier chain and to many represents our current throwaway culture with the growth of fast fashion as the pinnacle of this consumer behaviour. With the industry under pressure from government, NGOs, media and consumers to be sustainable, is it possible that fashion can ever be sustainable? This talk hopefully addresses this question by considering the symbiotic relationships between fashion, consumers and the industry, and explores some of the myths associated with fashion and sustainability.

Click the links below for further information.

Podcast: Responding to the impact of COVID-19 on the global textiles industry with communication, collaboration and collective action

How COVID-19 has increased the complexity of the fashion industry and its supply chains


Mark Sumner is a lecturer in Sustainability, Fashion and Retail at the University of Leeds. His research covers a wide range of subjects including consumer behaviour, supply chain responsibility, modern slavery and microplastics. He worked for the UK’s largest clothing retailer for over 15 years before joining the university and has contributed to numerous industry and government reports and roundtables on fashion, as well as providing consultancy to a range of organisations and is a regularly contributor to various media discussions on the sustainability of fashion. 

April 6th 2021: “The coronavirus storm: exposing pre-existing insecurity for people in poverty in the UK"  by Dr Andrea Barry, Senior Analyst, Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

click this link to access the pdf of Andrea's presentation

click this link to access the recording of the discussion after Andrea's talk


Our most recent report shows that an unacceptable number of people were already in poverty before the pandemic, and highlights what has been happening to people who have been struggling to keep their heads above water since it began. Andrea will  show why the Government must take bold and compassionate action on work, social security and housing so that they work better for everyone after coronavirus. 



Dr Andrea Barry is a Senior Analyst, leading analysis for JRF’s work outcome group.

She plays a key role in providing and disseminating evidence and analytical work related to JRF’s outcomes. Specifically, she’s involved in providing analysis and evidence for JRF to help more people find a route out poverty through work.

Her research interests include:

·         Effects of globalisation on work and well-being in the UK.

·         Regional imbalances related to productivity and growth in the UK.

·         Relieving transport poverty and understanding its effects on types of jobs available to those in poverty.

Before this, Andrea was an Economist at Transport for the North, and completed her postdoctoral research with the Global Development Institute at the University of Manchester.

Click the links below for further information.

We must loosen poverty's grip on Black, Asian and ethnic minority people | JRF

March 2nd 2021: "Disarmament" by Dave Webb, Chair of CND and Emeritus Professor of Leeds Beckett University

click this link to see the recording of this talk

click this link to see the recording of the discussion following this talk


According to a recent study by the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), Britain’s ‘Trident’ nuclear weapons system is estimated to cost us around £7 billion pounds a year. It has also been estimated that the total cost of replacing the system with a new ‘Dreadnought’ submarines carrying upgraded U.S. missiles will cost over £200 billion. Why is this so expensive and why is it that the system relies so heavily on the United States? In January a new UN treaty, the TPNW (the ‘Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons’) came into force which means that nuclear weapons are illegal under International Law. However, nuclear weapon states (including the UK) have said they will never sign it.  However, a national poll conducted on 12-13th January for CND by Survation showed that 77% of the public support a total ban on all nuclear weapons and 59% support the UK government signing the TPNW. How has the treaty and the Covid experience changed international norms and cooperation?


This talk will explore these questions and more.






Dave Webb taught engineering at Leeds Beckett University until his retirement in 2012. Since then he has helped found, develop and teach Peace and Conflict studies   and was also co-Founder and co-Director of the Praxis Centre (for the study of Information and Technology for Peace, Conflict Resolution and Human Rights) both at Leeds Beckett. A peace campaigner all his life, Dave has been Chair of CND since 2010 and currently also chairs the Yorkshire Region. In addition to all this Dave convenes the “Global Networks against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space”; is a patron of “Scientists for Global Responsibility” and a Vice President of the “International Peace Bureau”.

February 2nd 2021:  7.30- 9.30pm, Is this the end of the road for globalisation? by Dr Jonathan Perraton - click this link to see the recording of this event


Before the 2008 global financial crisis, globalisation was often seen as an unstoppable force. Tony Blair famously said, ‘I hear people say we have to stop and debate globalisation. You might as well debate whether autumn should follow summer.’ Since then the seemingly inexorable growth of global trade and finance has stuttered even before Covid led to a global slump. Countries have been putting up barriers to trade instead of taking them down. Erstwhile defenders of globalisation have, somewhat belatedly, noted that it has had a profound impact on inequality both between and within countries rather than being universally beneficial.

Covid-19 has both led to arguably the first truly global crisis, but also disrupted the global economy. The earlier phase of hyper-globalisation appears to have passed and rebuilding global links after the virus will be challenging as we move to a new normal. Nevertheless, globalisation has already led to a major shift in international production that has spread economic activity globally, but highly unevenly. This talk will examine how the global economy has evolved and how it is likely to develop, and the impact this has had on incomes across the world. It will emphasise that globalisation is not an unstoppable force, but the outcome of policy decisions at the national and global levels.



Dr Jonathan Perraton is Senior Lecturer in Economics at the University of Sheffield and Associate Fellow of the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute. He is co-author of ‘Global Transformations: Politics, Economics and Culture’ and has written on economic globalisation, growth and economic policy. 

January 5th 2021: A Tale of Two Cities by Simon Jose - click this link to view the recording of this event



Leeds looks booming, cranes at work, new plans for a major city centre park part of an even bigger massive South Bank Development. However, Leeds City Councils growth strategy is based on the “trickle down geography” theory, where you pump investment into the city centre and that pulls in new jobs, shiny cafes, bars, hotels and in turn we get growth and equity, prosperity and sustainability, competitiveness and emancipation. However, there is scant evidence this works at all and in reality it abandons the suburbs; Gipton to Bramley fare less well. Simon Jose will discuss how we need affordable homes, community centres and a workable industrial strategy, not boutique hotels and private student accommodation. Furthermore a growth strategy based on the white-elephant, money burning HS2 project is looking more and more like waiting for Godot. Poverty and inequality should be at the heart of council policy not growth for growths sake, driven by vanity projects and big events. The pandemic has polarised how dangerous an economy based on cafes and consumerism is. There are alternatives, which address all of these issues, which rarely are rarely considered or even discussed.



Simon Jose has written a number of reports on housing, poverty, devolution and finance and was previously a parliamentary research assistant for a local MP. He now runs a social enterprise looking at tackling poverty and inequality in Wakefield and is very happy Bielsa is staying at Leeds.

December 1st 2020.  7.15 – 9.30 ‘Freightened: The real price of shipping’- a documentary that shows the real cost of imported goods.


Synopsis of the Film:

90% of the goods we consume in the West are manufactured in far-off lands and brought to us by ship. The cargo shipping industry is a key player in world economy and forms the basis of our very model of modern civilisation; without it, it would be impossible to fulfil the ever-increasing demands of our societies. Yet the functioning and regulations of this business remain largely obscure to many, and its hidden costs affect us all. Due to their size, freight ships no longer fit in traditional city harbours; they have moved out of the public’s eye, behind barriers and check points. FREIGHTENED - The Real Price of Shipping answers questions such as: Who pulls the strings in this multi-billiondollar business? To what extent does the industry control our policy makers? How does it affect the environment above and below the waterline? And what’s life like for modern seafarers? Taking us on a journey over -seas and oceans, FREIGHTENED - The Real Price of Shipping reveals, in an audacious investigation, the many faces of world-wide freight shipping and sheds light on the consequences of an all-but-visible industry. Produced by Polestar Films.



Rose George is an author and journalist. Her journalism has appeared in The Guardian, New York Times, Independent, New Statesman and many other publications. Her four books include “The Big Necessity: Adventures in the World of Human Waste/The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why it Matters”. Her third book, "Deep Sea and Foreign Going: Inside Shipping, the invisible Industry that brings you 90% of Everything” won the 2013 Mountbatten Literature Award. Her investigation into the sometimes murky world of shipping influenced the documentary ‘Freightened’, for which she acted as a consultant.  

November 3rd, 2020:  7.30- 9.30: ‘Transport Policy in West Yorkshire’. An online talk by Liz Hunter and Councillor Kim Groves  - click this link to see the recording of this event



Be it tackling the climate emergency, enabling inclusive growth or boasting productivity – transport has a role to play. Our speakers, Liz Hunter  and Kim Groves, will talk about  the very immediate transport challenges during the Covid19 pandemic and the investments which are already being worked on as well as looking to the future of transport for the region from the major schemes such as High Speed Two and Northern Powerhouse Rail to the regional and local connectivity needs.



Councillor  Kim Groves has been Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Transport Committee since June 2018. During this time, Cllr Groves has dedicated herself to improving public transport in West Yorkshire. A key focus of her work is improving bus services for West Yorkshire, leading the establishment of the West Yorkshire Bus Alliance to deliver improvements to the bus network. Cllr Groves has also been a prominent supporter of the Combined Authority’s £60 million City Connect cycling and walking programme and is backing the roll out of 88 electric vehicle rapid charging points across West Yorkshire. Last year, Cllr Groves supported the launch of a worldwide market engagement to find the latest and best ideas and experience that could help to develop an urban transport system for West Yorkshire.

Liz Hunter is currently the Head of Transport Policy at the West Yorkshire Combined Authority. Liz previously worked at Leeds City Council. Before moving North, Liz worked in the Civil Service – mostly within the Department for Transport with secondments to High Speed Two Ltd and HM Treasury. Whilst in the Civil Service, Liz worked on policy development across a number transport issues, on local transport legislation and on the evidence and advice for spending reviews.

As Head of Transport Policy, Liz’s current role is to deliver the West Yorkshire Transport Strategy. This includes shaping the plans for investment and transport devolution plans for the region and working closely with Transport for the North and partners on shaping national investment including Northern Powerhouse Rail, High Speed Two and Transpennine Route Upgrade.

Tuesday October 6th, 2020:  'Inequality and Stress' by Professor Richard Wilkinson, Emeritus Professor in Public Health at the University of Nottingham -click this link to see the recording of this event



As well as damaging both physical and mental health, stress adds to a wide range of social problems including violence.  But there is little understanding of why people find modern societies so stressful.  Personal stress and how unequal a society is seem worlds apart, but Richard Wilkinson will show how inequality affects us most intimately. 


Richard studied economic history and the philosophy of science at LSE before training in epidemiology. He is now Professor Emeritus of Social Epidemiology at the University of Nottingham Medical School, Honorary Professor at University College London and Visiting Professor at the University of York.  Since his initial research focussed on health inequalities, his books and research papers have drawn attention to the tendency for societies with bigger income differences between rich and poor to suffer a heavier burden of health and social problems. Two of his books have been the subject of documentary films – The Great Leveller (for the Channel 4 TV’s Equinox series broadcast in 1996) was based on his Unhealthy Societies.  The Divide (based on The Spirit Level) was released in April 2016 (available on Netflix).  The Spirit Level, written with Kate Pickett is now in 24 languages.  It won the 2011 Political Studies Association Publication of the Year Award and the 2010 Bristol Festival of Ideas Prize.  His TED talk ‘How economic inequality harms societies’ has been watched over 3 million times.  Richard has received Solidar’s Silver Rose Award, the Irish Cancer Society’s Charles Cully Memorial medal, and was The Australian Society for Medical Research medallist in 2017. He and Kate Pickett published their latest book, called The Inner Level,,  in June 2018

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