Looking forwards backwards: archaeological and geological perspectives on a sustainable future

31 March 2021

Current global climatic and ecological changes present a profound threat to the long-term wellbeing of humanity. Solutions to mitigate against or adapt to society’s grand sustainability challenge will come from many quarters – science and technology, humanities and the creative arts, health, business and education – but the historical sciences of archaeology and geology also offer important past perspectives.

This webinar will explore the role and responsibility of geo-archaeological science in addressing fundamental aspects of sustainable development, including water, mineral resources, energy, and disaster risk. Prof. Iain Stewart will begin with a keynote presentation, before bringing in the perspectives of our panellists Prof. Nizar Abu-Jaber and Dr Carol Palmer. The webinar will be chaired by Prof. Matthew Jones.


About the speakers:

Professor Iain Stewart is the newly appointed El Hassan Research Chair in Sustainability at the Royal Scientific Society. The former director of its Sustainable Earth Institute at the University of Plymouth, Iain’s long-standing research interests are in geological hazards, geology for sustainable development, and geoscience communication. His geo-communication work has built on a 15-year partnership with BBC television presenting Earth science programmes, including Earth: The Power of the Planet; How Earth Made Us; How to Grow a Planet; The Rise of the Continents; and Planet Oil. Awarded an MBE for his services to geography and geology education, he currently holds a UNESCO Chair in Geoscience and Society and leads the UNESCO’s International Geoscience and Geoparks Programme project 685 on Geology and Sustainable Development.

Professor Nizar Abu-Jaber is the Director of the Center for Natural and Cultural Heritage (CSNACH) at the German Jordanian University (GJU). Previously, he worked at Yarmouk University where he directed the UNESCO Chair for Desert Studies and Desertification Control. At GJU, he was the Dean of Research and Graduate Studies before moving on to establish CSNACH in 2011. A geologist by training, his diverse interests revolve around the use of Earth science in resolving pressing issues related to water resources and management, climate change, sustainable planning and cultural heritage. Most recently, he has led a number of CSNACH projects aimed at reviving the ancient Nabatean flood control system in Petra, a project which won the ICCROM-Athar award for Good Practices in Cultural Heritage Conservation and Management in the Arab Region (2020).

Dr Carol Palmer is Director of the Council for British Research in the Levant based in Amman. She is an anthropologist, environmental archaeologist, and botanist. She wrote her PhD on traditional farming in northern Jordan and subsequently studied Bedouin from southern Jordan as part of the Wadi Faynan Project. Her research interests concentrate on recording rural life in its many forms, the contemporary and recent use of plants on the broadest level, cultivated, gathered, and grazed, and the effects of changes in food production practices on the landscape and in society. She is an Honorary Fellow at Bournemouth University.

Webinar recordings

Watch the webinar on our YouTube channel or listen to the podcast.