On 21 September 2016 we were privileged to welcome Lord Robert Winston - professor, doctor, scientist, television presenter and Labour politician - to Watson's. His lecture ‘Will we be human in the next century?’ was the eighth Caritas Lecture, part of the Festival of Ideas which this year is taking the theme of ‘Future Perfect?’.
Welcoming such an important figure in fields of medicine, politics and popular science education was a real honour for the Watson’s community, shown through the number of guests which exceeded 600!
In his lecture, Lord Winston used art, music and science to convey the rapid pace at which the world today is changing and progressing. He started the lecture by highlighting figures with genetic deformities in pre-renaissance artworks, showing that society has always been intrigued by the human DNA and its abnormalities.
Following on from this, he discussed changes in attitudes towards women, in particular concerning sterilisation and abortion rights, deepening our understanding of the progress that was being made in modern society. This allowed him then to discuss the major scientific breakthroughs that have taken place since the 20th century, like the discovery of the human genome. The highly informative yet accessible and often humorous way that he spoke allowed for his words to be appreciated by all in attendance.
Lord Winston's lecture ended with the line, “We are trying to change our humanity at the peril of our humanity”, summarising perfectly his view that despite the many great scientific, social and artistic changes that have come about in recent history, we as human beings need to be responsible for making sure that these changes are the best thing for the modern world.
Emily Harley (S6)