Urban Paradox: Human Evolution and the 21st century town


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Information about a conference at the Institute of Archaeology, London on the 21st February 2014

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Urban Paradox: Human Evolution and the 21st century town

  1. 1. urban paradox: . conference human evolution and the 21st- century town Friday 21st February 2014 UCL Institute of Archaeology The town is not our natural habitat. For most of the last three million years, we evolved as huntergatherers, living off the land in small kin-groups and tribal societies, developing a working relationship with nature. Culturally, we are still adapting to urbanized living: our technologies, towns, economies and societies have developed at a remarkable speed. Anatomically, however, we have not evolved at the same electric pace: genetically, we remain much as we were before towns developed, or even before large-scale farming was adopted 5,000-10,000 years ago. Today’s cities accommodate a global population of some 3.4 billion: there is therefore a profound dichotomy between the world we currently live in, and the one we were genetically, metabolically, physiologically and psychologically designed for. We can’t uninvent towns, nor do we wish to, but city life is, superficially, the very antithesis of the hunter-gatherers’ world. There is a possible solution, however. It lies in the adoption of proxy behaviours, environments and townscapes that mimic elements of the nutrition, daily activity, social interaction and engagement with the environment that best fit the evolutionary demands of our minds and bodies. Through applied studies, such proxy behaviours could be brought together to form a coherent protocol applied to 21st-century townscapes and urban life-styles. We call this approach the Eden Protocol, a short-hand term for the Evolutionary Determinants of health, social interaction and urban wellbeing. By facilitating the associated behavourial changes, urban wellbeing and social cohesion might be quantifiably improved, and National Health Service costs diminished. The better our urban and societal surroundings simulate our “natural habitat”, and the better our behaviours match our biology, the healthier we urban creatures will be. There is no charge for delegates, but places are limited and so pre-booking is ESSENTIAL: to book your seat: Eventbrite EDEN Protocol For further information on the Evolutionary Determinants of Health programme see: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/edenprotocol Further information on the conference, contact EDENinfo@ucl.ac.uk or Charlotte Frearson c.frearson@ucl.ac.uk
  2. 2. urban conference programme paradox: human evolution and the 21st- century town Session 1 summarises the Evolutionary Determinants of Health project, reviews its relationship to the Social Determinants of Health, looks at personal health behaviours, urban gangs and the promotion of positive behavioural change. Session 2 looks at healthy cities and the architecture of urban wellbeing, considers physiological, psychological, biological and societal importance of urban greenspace; then at how buildings can be designed and town plans reconfigured to facilitate and encourage ‘evolutionary’ health behaviours. 1 2 3  9.15 – 9.50am registration  10am welcome brave old world: evolutionary determinants of health in the 21st -century town Gustav Milne UCL Institute of Archaeology becoming human: deep evolutionary perspectives on human behaviour Matt Pope UCL Institute of Archaeology backwards and forwards: towards a “palaeolithically-correct” behavioural science Ben Gardner UCL Health Behaviour Research Centre  11.15-11.45am discussion/ coffee 4 school dinners: introducing an evolutionary perspective in inner-city schools Emma Karoune UCL Institute of Archaeology 5 play time: football, crime and urban gangs Samir Singh Arsenal in the Community 6 building for people: architecture from a human perspective Bob Allies Allies & Morrison Architects: London SE1  1-1.45pm lunch healthy cities: urban design from a human evolutionary perspective Ian Scott UCL Grand Challenges 7 8 greening the city: a physiological and psychological necessity Jemima Stockton UCL Dept of Public Health and Epidemiology 9 greening the city: a biological necessity Graham Rook UCL Dept of Microbiology  3-3.30pm discussion/ tea a life less sedentary: making the office work harder Abi Fisher UCL Active Buildings project 10 11 access all areas? social inequality and urban transport issues Nicola Christie UCL Transport Institute 12 streets ahead: community engagement, human locomotion and the DIY street Paola Spivach Senior Urban Designer, SUSTRANS  5pm reception The conference is supported by the Ove Arup Foundation and by UCL Grand Challenges