The 2023 Dr S T Lee Public Policy Lecture

13 June 2023, 5:30pm


Naturekind: More-than-human communication, ecology and the politics of science and policy

Tuesday 13 June 2023, Old Divinity School, St John's College, Cambridge (5:30pm-7pm followed by networking and drinks)

The 2023 Dr Seng Tee Lee lecture will be delivered by Professor Melissa Leach, Director, Institute of Development Studies.

Chair: Professor Diane Coyle, Bennett Professor of Public Policy, Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Cambridge

This lecture challenges the simplistic separation between human and non-human nature which pervades environmental sciences. It moves towards a new paradigm for more-than-human communication, drawing together threads rooted in the ethological revolution in the biological sciences that finds syntax, symbolism and social learning in communication and culture beyond the human, with semiotics and anthropology. Multi-species ethnographies – here focusing on bats, soils, and forests in African and UK settings – reveal under-appreciated communicative connections and conversations and their significance to mutual flourishing. This focus on communication has profound implications for policy and highlights the value of integrating diverse knowledges and perspectives across the natural and social sciences and humanities.

To read more, download the full summary here.


Melissa Leach is the Director of the Institute of Development Studies (IDS). She co-founded and co-directed the ESRC STEPS (Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability) Centre from 2006 to 2014, with its pioneering pathways approach to innovation, sustainability and development issues. She is a Fellow of the British Academy and was awarded a CBE in 2017 for services to social science.

A social anthropologist and geographer, her interdisciplinary, policy-engaged research in Africa and beyond links environment, agriculture, health, technology and gender, with particular interests in knowledge, power and the politics of science and policy processes, and pandemic preparedness and response.


About S T Lee Public Policy Lectures

The S T Lee Public Policy lectures were established in 2003 thanks to a benefaction from Seng Tee Lee, Singaporean business executive, philanthropist and Honarary Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge. Each lecture considers aspects of scientific, medical or technological research and developments that are likely to have significant implications for public policy over the next decade.

Professor Melissa Leach

Institute of Development Studies (IDS)

Professor Dame Diane Coyle

Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS), University of Cambridge