Public Lectures & Events

At the Taliesin Arts Centre

RIAH and Global Drug Policy Observatory

GDPO small

Wednesday 19 February

Taliesin Arts Centre



4.30pm - Documentary Screening: Raw Opium: Pain, Pleasure, Profits

6pm - Interval

6.30pm - Panel Discussion and audience Q&A: The Dilemmas of Drug Policy: Global to Local

Raw Opium is a wide-ranging feature documentary about a commodity that has tremendous power – both to ease pain and to destroy lives. Building upon many of the issues raised within it, the accompanying panel discussion aims to explore the complexities of the illicit market in heroin and other controlled drugs as an area of public policy concern.  Reflecting the truly inter-disciplinary nature and expansive transnational scope of this topic, discussion will give attention to the challenges to policies and programmes within production, transit and consumer markets, including those in places as distant as Afghanistan and those closer to home.  Underpinned by the GDPO’s belief in the need for an evidence and rights based approach to policy formulation, the panel will question law enforcement dominated strategies and engage with debates about health-oriented approaches and shifts away from the so-called ‘war on drugs’. 

Panel members

Professor Julia Buxton (Chair)GDPO Senior Research Officer and Professor of Comparative Politics, School of Public Policy at the Central European University, Budapest

Baroness Molly Meacher, Chair, All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Drug Policy Reform

Ifor Glyn – Chief Executive, SANDS CYMRU

Mike Trace, Chief Executive, The Rehabilitation for Addicted Prisoners Trust (RAPt), Chair, International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) steering group, former Deputy UK Anti-Drug Coordinator

Professor David Bewley-Taylor – GDPO Director and Professor of International Relations and Public Policy, Swansea University

Online grooming: Communicative Stages and Paedophile Profiles‌

Language Research Centre

Thursday 20 February, 11am - 12pm

Taliesin Arts Centre

Professor Nuria Lorenzo Dus and Dr Cristina Izura



Online grooming is an activity that affects a significant proportion of children and teenagers, with reported incidences ranging from 19% to 35%. The exact magnitude of the problem is difficult to determine: the nature of the crime and the vulnerability of the victims unfortunately mean that many cases go unreported.  A recent review of online grooming concludes that, despite it being such a prevalent crime, research into its characteristics is limited. The present study contributes to filling this important gap by bringing together expertise in cognitive psychology and linguistics in order to develop a communicative profile of online sexual predators.

Professor Nuria Lorenzo-Dus works in the Department of English Language and Literature, College of Arts and Humanities (COAH).She has published widelyon media discourse and cross-cultural pragmatics.  She is the founding Director of the Language Research Centre.

Dr Cristina Izura is an expert psychologist interested in language and cognitive processes’ research. She actively collaborates with experts in linguistics and neuroscience in research projects that range from looking at the communicative profiles of paedophiles to the bilingual incidence in Alzheimer’s disease or the differential neural activity between sexes when reading. She’s currently the deputy Director of the Language Research Centre.

Inter-Faith Relations: Scriptural Reasoning

Mike HigtonThursday 20 February, 7pm - 9pm

Taliesin Arts Centre

Professor Mike Higton, Durham University

Anyone who reads newspaper headlines knows that the needs and demands of differing religious communities have an impact on our public life, and create controversy.  There’s a lot of talk about how to respond to these needs and demands – how to honour each group’s freedom to believe and practice as their religion dictates, while keeping our shared public life working, open and free.  The study of ‘inter-faith relations’ is the study of how these differing religious communities respond to each other, and how they relate to our society’s common life.


In his lecture Professor Higton will ask why the needs and demands of religious communities can present a problem for public life and whether we can do better than see those needs and demands as non-negotiable, requiring management rather than exploration and discussion.

In 1991, at the beginning of the third year of an undergraduate degree, Mike Higton made a last-minute decision to switch from maths to theology. In 1999 in Exeter’s Department of Lifelong Learning, he oversaw evening classes and in 2005 moved to Exeter’s Department of Theology. He became Head of Department in 2006. In 2010, Mike took up a three-year secondment to the Cambridge Inter-faith Programme, to develop research programmes bringing together scholars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and helping develop associated public education projects.

Professor Higton’s post in Durham is part of the University's Common Awards partnership with the Church of England where he is responsible for academic input into the University's validation of the Common Awards in Theology, Ministry and Mission offered by the Church in colleges and courses around the country, and for developing collaborative research projects that bring together people from the church and university sectors to discuss the future of theological education.

‌A Mathematical Meditation on the Circle

 Jeff Giansiracusa

Saturday 22 February, 10.15 - 11.30am

Taliesin Arts Centre

Dr Jeff Giansiracusa



The circle is the simplest and purest geometric figure.  We will follow the circle through art, science, and mathematics on a surprising journey that will take us from antiquity to modern medicine and engineering and eventually to the abstract world of topology and extra dimensions.  The simplicity of the circle conceals a devastating wealth of powerful ideas.

Dr Jeff Giansiracusa is an EPSRC funded research fellow at Swansea University in the Department of Mathematics. He works on homotopy theoretic aspects of moduli spaces, operads, topological field theory, and diffeomorphism groups, using topological techniques from algebraic K-theory to study the homotopy theory of moduli spaces arising in algebraic geometry.

‌Poetry of Memoir: Testimonial of a Female Holocaust Survivor

Fragments Frances Rapport

Saturday 22 February, 12.15 - 1.30pm

Taliesin Arts Centre

Professor Frances Rapport





The philosopher Theodor Adorno famously stated that: ‘To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric’. In this presentation, a provocative argument is made that poetry, from Holocaust survivor testimonial offers a privileged access to that which must lie beyond the bounds of prosaic description and analysis.

Inscribing and transcribing the Holocaust must remain fragmentary procedures. For the experiences themselves are incomprehensible, and impossible to reproduce in language. Introducing us to the life of Anka Bergman, who survived the Holocaust and came to Wales, you will be invited to approach her trauma, her fortitude, her courage, and the individuality of her will in faltering, fragmentary poetic steps.

Frances Rapport is Professor of Qualitative Health Research at Swansea University.  She is Director of the ‘Qualitative Research Unit’ and leads ‘Qualitative Enquiry Supporting Trials’ within the College of Medicine. Frances Rapport has Visiting Professorships in The States, Saudi Arabia, Norway, and England.

‌MARVELlous Materials: Superheroes and Science


Saturday 22 February, 2.30 - 3.45pm 

Taliesin Arts Centre

Dr Richard Johnston

What makes materials science ‘SuperScience’? In his talk Richard will explore the science of superheroes with some alternative materials science and engineering explanations...and some of the techniques that give researchers ‘superpowers’.

How could X-ray vision work? What is the biocompatibility of Adamantium? Will Tony Stark buy a 3D printer?

Dr Richard Johnston is a senior lecturer in the Materials Research Centre, Swansea University and a British Science Association Media Fellow (based at Nature). Embracing a multidisciplinary approach, Richard’s research has taken him from artificial intelligence in manufacturing, through gas turbine materials and on to X-ray microtomography. He has recently set up the new X-ray Imaging and Characterisation Laboratory (XIChaL) at Swansea.

He is a member of the Swansea University Research Forum (SURF) Executive Group, is Director of Outreach and Public Engagement for Swansea UTC-Rolls-Royce/EPSRC Strategic Partnership and sits on the Institute of Materials Minerals and Mining Education Committee. Richard is the creator of Swansea University’s Research as Art competition.