President’s Symposium, May 2022

The subject of our 2022 Symposium is

Devon in 2050

Hosted by our 2021-22 President, Dr Robin Wootton PhD, FLS, Hon. FRES, it was held on Saturday 14 May 2022 at Petroc College, Tiverton.

What will Devon be like, physically and as a place to live, three decades hence?

The last thirty years have seen extraordinary scientific and technological advances: in genomics and genetic manipulation, pharmaceuticals, computing, satellite navigation and worldwide instantaneous communication. But they have also made us acutely aware of previously underestimated adverse consequences of past revolutions in industry, agriculture and mobility: climate change, mass extinction, overpopulation and the global spread of disease.

This symposium brought together two conservationists, a geologist, a molecular biologist, a sociologist and an expert in artificial intelligence and robotics to discuss aspirations, threats and solutions – and to attempt to predict the future!


9:30 –10:00amREGISTRATION and COFFEE 
10:00 –10:15amWelcome and introduction: Recently, in the early nineties…Dr Robin Wootton, DA President & Honorary Fellow (Insect Biomechanics), University of Exeter
10:15 –10:50amClimate change and its impact on Devon’s landscape and seasEmeritus Professor Malcolm Hart, University of Plymouth
10:50 –11:25amStepping through the looking glass: what the future may hold for Devon’s seas in 2050Dr Keith Hiscock, Marine Biological Association, Plymouth
11:25 –11:40amBREAK 
11:40 –12:15pmDevon 2050: an embattled insect strongholdDr Clive Betts, Chair of Ambios and Consultant Entomologist
12:15 –12:50pmWhat will Devon be like in 2050? Insights from the social sciencesProfessor Jane Elliott CBE, University of Exeter
12:50 –2:00pmLUNCH 
2:00 –2:35pmA long-term vision for truly sustainable robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI)Professor Alan Winfield, University of the West of England and Bristol Robotics Unit
2:35 –3:10pmGene Genie: What are your three wishes?Emeritus Professor John Bryant, University of Exeter
3:10 –3:40pmPANEL DISCUSSIONChaired by Dr Robin Wootton
3:40 – 4:00pmTEA