A Day on Psychology & Culture - The Weekend University

Neuroscience, Evolutionary Psychology & Mental Health: A full day of talks exploring the fascinating interplay between psychology & culture.

Ever wonder how we went from small insignificant primates to modern civilisation?

Why are rates of mental illness in the UK twice that in Germany?

How does the society we live in influence which areas of our brain get activated? Why do some societies stimulate logical, linear and limited ‘left-brain’ thinking, while others result in creative, expansive and more holistic ‘right-brain’ thinking and behaviour?

The answer to all of these questions’ hinges on the fascinating interplay between psychology and human culture.

In this series of talks, you’ll learn:

  • The Evolutionary Origins of Human Culture; the fascinating evolution of social intelligence, what explains the meteoric rise of homo sapiens, and how events in our distant past guide our lives today – Professor William von Hippel
  • The Brain & Culture: A Symbiotic Relationship; the neuroscience of how our brains mould the world, and how the world moulds our brains – Dr Iain McGilchrist
  • Culture and Mental Health; how unequal societies affect our mental health and wellbeing, and how we can begin creating cultural environments that lead to human flourishing – Professor Kate Pickett and Professor Richard Wilkinson

These unique insights will help you deepen your understanding of human nature and the world we live in.

Event Schedule:

  • 10:00am – 12:00pm: The Evolutionary Origins of Human CultureProfessor William von Hippel
  • 12:00 – 1:00pm: Lunch break
  • 1:00pm – 3:00pm: The Brain & Culture: A Symbiotic Relationship – Dr Iain McGilchrist
  • 3:00pm – 3:30pm: Afternoon break
  • 3:30pm – 5:00pm: Culture and Mental Health – Professor Kate Pickett and Professor Richard Wilkinson

Full Day Pass: £49.99 (includes VAT + Booking Fee)

Student/Unwaged: £26.99 (includes VAT + Booking Fee)


Sunday 26th July 2020
09:30 – 17:00 BST

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26/07/2020 09:30 AM
26/07/2020 5:00 PM
Online Video Conference
The Weekend University – A Day on Psychology & Culture

Online Conference

Lectures & Speakers

The Evolutionary Origins of Human Culture – Professor Bill von Hippel

The most basic aspects of our psychology were shaped by the “social leap” our distant ancestors made from the rainforest to the savannah. In their struggle to survive on the open grassland, our ancestors prioritized cooperation and teamwork over physical prowess, creating a new form of social intelligence that set the stage for our rise to the top of the food chain. In this talk I trace our evolutionary history over the last six million years to show how events in our distant past guide our lives today.

Reading Recommendations:

  • Stephen Pinker – The Blank Slate
  • Richard Dawkins – The Selfish Gene
  • Robert Wright – The Moral Animal
  • Robert Sapolsky – 1) Behave 2) A Primate’s Memoir
  • Steve Stewart-Williams – The Ape that Understood the Universe
  • Michael Tomasello – 1) Becoming Human 2) A Natural History of Human Morality 3) A Natural History of Human Thinking
  • Robert Plomin – Blueprint
  • Christopher Boehm – 1) Hierarchy in the Forest 2) Moral Origins
  • Thomas Suddendorf – The Gap
  • Joseph Henrich – The Secret of our Success
  • David Buss – Evolutionary Psychology: The new science of the mind
Bill von Hippel - The Weekend University

William von Hippel is an evolutionary psychologist and the author of the bestselling book: ‘The Social Leap’. He grew up in Alaska, got his B.A. at Yale and his PhD at the University of Michigan, and then taught for a dozen years at Ohio State University before finding his way to Australia, where he is a professor of psychology at the University of Queensland. He has published more than a hundred articles, chapters, and edited books, and his research has been featured in The New York Times, USA Today, The Economist, the BBC, Le Monde, El Mundo, Der Spiegel, and The Australian. He lives with his wife and two children in Brisbane, Australia.

The Brain & Culture: A Symbiotic Relationship – Dr Iain McGilchrist

All in Nature is interconnected: all processes are interactive.  The brain and the world (which it exists to bring into being for us) are no exceptions to this. Our brains mould the world and the world moulds our brains.  Given the capacity for each hemisphere to attend to the world differently, and therefore make some aspects of the world stand forward at the expense of others, different cultures may come to emphasise different ‘takes’ on the world.  I will consider some ways in which this has worked itself out historically in the West, and whether seeing this can help us get a new perspective on what we see happening around us in the world today.  

Reading Recommendations:

  • The Master and His Emissary – Dr Iain McGilchrist
  • Ways of Attending – Dr Iain McGilchrist
Dr Iain McGilchrist - The Weekend University

Dr McGilchrist is a Psychiatrist and Writer, who is committed to the idea that the mind and brain can be understood only by seeing them in the broadest possible context. He has published original research and contributed chapters to books on a wide range of subjects, as well as original articles in papers and journals, including the British Journal of Psychiatry, American Journal of Psychiatry, The Wall Street Journal, The Sunday Telegraph and The Sunday Times. He has taken part in many radio and TV programmes, documentaries, and podcasts, among them dialogues with Jordan Peterson, David Fuller of Rebel Wisdom, and philosopher Tim Freke.

His books include Against Criticism, The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World, The Divided Brain and the Search for Meaning, and Ways of Attending. He is currently working on his latest book: The Matter With Things. You can keep up to date with his work at www.iainmcgilchrist.com

Culture and Mental Health – Prof Kate Pickett & Prof Richard Wilkinson

Why is the incidence of mental illness in the UK twice that in Germany? Why are Americans three times more likely than the Dutch to develop gambling problems? Why is child well-being so much worse in New Zealand than Japan? The answer to all of these questions, hinges on inequality.

This talk will explore how inequality affects us individually, how it alters how we think, feel and behave. You’ll learn about the overwhelming evidence showing that material inequalities have powerful psychological effects: when the gap between rich and poor increases, so does the tendency to define and value ourselves and others in terms of superiority and inferiority. The speakers will then go on to demonstrate that societies based on fundamental equalities, sharing and reciprocity generate much higher levels of well-being, and lay out a path towards making them a reality.

Reading Recommendations:

  • The Inner Level – Kate Pickett & Richard Wilkinson
  • Drop the Disorder – Jo Watson
  • Lost Connections – Johann Hari
  • Chasing the Scream – Johann Hari 
  • Barbalat G, Franck N. Ecological study of the association between mental illness with human development, income inequalities and unemployment across OECD countries. BMJ open. 2020 Apr 1;10(4):e035055.  
Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson - The Weekend University

Kate Pickett is Professor of Epidemiology in the Department of Health Sciences at the University of York and leads the Public Health and Society research group. She is the co-author of The Spirit Level and The Inner Level, with Richard Wilkinson, and her work addresses the social determinants of health and well-being. She was a National Institute for Health Research Career Scientist from 2007-2012, is a Fellow of the RSA and a Fellow of the UK Faculty of Public Health.

Richard Wilkinson is a British social epidemiologist, author, advocate, and political activist. He is Professor Emeritus of Social Epidemiology at the University of Nottingham, having retired in 2008. He is also Honorary Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London and Visiting Professor at University of York. In 2009, Richard co-founded The Equality Trust and was awarded the Charles Cully Memorial Medal in 2014 by the Irish Cancer Society.

What TWU attendees are saying:

    5 star review  Just attended my second Weekend University day of lectures at Birkbeck, this time on Memories, Dreams and Existentialism. A great mix of speakers, styles and content which left me wanting to go home and find out more about two out of the three subjects. Fantastic to see Emmy Van Deurzen in action - she's a bit of a heroine of mine! One tip would be to ask the audience to fill up the rows of seats before the start as inevitably some people arrive late (like I did) and it was all a bit chaotic at the back of the auditorium. There were empty seats near the walls but no way to get to them without having four or five people stand up.

    Melanie Skeet Avatar Melanie Skeet
    February 26, 2018

    5 star review  Brilliant event. Great speakers. Looking forward to the next one!

    S-orcha O Dea Avatar S-orcha O Dea
    May 28, 2018

    positive review  These Sunday sessions are so good! They are really well organised with nicely paced breaks so you don’t get content overload. I started going as I was/am thinking of studying psychology but my husband is now also coming along and some friends because they find the content really interesting. Even if you aren’t studying psychology or working in the field, the sessions can be very interesting and provide a stimulating and creative way to spend one Sunday a month.

    Leah Williamson Avatar Leah Williamson
    January 8, 2019
TWU 100% Money Back Guarantee

The Weekend University seeks to guarantee an excellent learning experience. If you are not fully satisfied with the day, you will receive 100% of your money back, and we will cover the cost of your travel to and from the venue.