Conference Programme

This three-day meeting addressed the history and current state of Earth system thinking and approaches to applying it. This included the concept of Gaia 2.0 which explores how humans may collectively add self-awareness to the Earth’s natural self-regulation systems. Gaia 2.0 is central to the Global Systems Institute which is a new interdisciplinary research, teaching, and engagement endeavour at the University of Exeter. The conference consisted of the following four plenary sessions:

Session 1: History of Gaia, the Earth System, and Global Systems Thinking.

Session 2: State of Global Systems in the Anthropocene.

Session 3: Sensing Global Systems.

Session 4: Tipping Transformative Change.

The programme is available to view below or download here.

All plenary talks were recorded and links to these video recordings are available in the programme below or on the GSI playlist on youtube.

Information about public events can be found here.

More information about the creative contributors to the conference can be found here.

Main venue: The Forum, University of Exeter, Exeter EX4 4SZ

This is still subject to further change as we add more people and confirm titles of the talks. The programme will feature keynote talks, panel discussions, poster sessions and a conference dinner. Artists will also be involved throughout the programme. Jim Lovelock will also be interviewed on stage followed by a question-and-answer session.

Monday 29 July

12:00 – 13:00

Arrival and Lunch

Musical entertainment (featuring Gaia Cabaret and Rosie Eade and friends from the Climate Stories project). Art on display throughout conference, including work by Glynn Gorick and images from the ‘Unlocking Lovelock’ Exhibition (courtesy of the Science Museum).

Glynn Gorick


Rosie Eade


Peter Horton (Gaia Cabaret)

13:00 – 13:30


Tim Lenton and the organising committee

Bruno Latour

Gaia 2.0 / Down to Earth

Bruno Latour

13:30 – 15:30

Plenary Session 1: The History of Gaia and of Global Systems Thinking

Lee Kump – Finding life in the global cycling of the elements: Bob Garrels, Jim Lovelock and my introduction to Gaia

Ros Rickaby – Co-evolution of life and the environment where adversity affords opportunity

Andy Watson – Revolutions that made the Earth

Claire Belcher – The history of atmospheric oxygen: regulation by fire

Sebastian Dutreuil – Elaborating Gaia in the 1960’s and 1970’s: how a closer look at the life of an “independent scientist” helps illuminate and influence the originality of the theory

Bronislaw Szerszynski – Gaia as a late-planetary sphere

Lee Kump

Ros Rickaby

Andrew Watson

Claire Belcher

Sebastien Dutreuil

Bronislaw Szerszynski

15:30 – 16:00

Tea and coffee

16:00 – 17:30

Panel 1: What can we learn from Gaia (towards Gaia 2.0)?

Chair: Oliver Morton [Format: 5 min introductions then panel discussion and Q&A]

Panellists: Judy Carver, Chris Rapley, Gaia Vince, Tyler Volk, Dave Wilkinson

Oliver Morton

Judy Carver

Judy Carver

Professor Chris Rapley

Chris Rapley

Gaia Vince

Tyler Volk

David Wilkinson

David Wilkinson

17:30 – 19:00

Poster session with drinks reception and Gaia Cabaret entertainment


‘Earth’ themed open mic night at the City Gate, Iron Bridge, Exeter EX4 3RB

Please join us to share your experiences of Earth through song, music, poetry or even a skit, or simply come to listen. We all have a story to tell about how we feel about the planet and how it’s changing; please come and share yours

More information about the events open to the general public is available here.

Tuesday 30 July


Morning run with Tim Lenton and Tom Powell

9:00 – 11:00

Plenary Session 2: The State of Global Systems in the Anthropocene

Tim Flannery – Climate of Hope

Ricarda Winkelmann – Tipping points in ice and society

Michel Crucifix – Against mechanism

Nadine Unger – Discovering the role of forests in Gaia

Peter Cox – How sensitive is the climate to CO2, and does it really matter?

Richard Betts – Climate impacts

Tim Flannery

Tim Flannery

Ricarda Winkelmann

Ricarda Winkelmann

Michel Crucifix

Nadine Unger

Nadine Unger

Peter Cox

Richard Betts

11:00 – 11:30

Tea and coffee

11:30 – 13:00

James Lovelock interview/Q&A with Tim Lenton Open to general public. Tickets are available here, and there will be a live screening online.

More information about the events open to the general public can be found here.

James Lovelock

13:00 – 14:00


14:00 – 16:15

Plenary Session 3: Sensing Global Systems

Sander van der Leeuw – The information revolution in human systems

Amanda Power – Narrating a history beyond the triumph of humanity

John Clarke – The role of poetry in conveying interconnected self-regulating systems

Kate Rawles – Outdoor Philosophy

Nathan Mayne – Beyond the Earth system: searching for an Exo-Gaia

Arwen Nicholson – Modelling exo-Gaias / Is Gaia a universal phenomenon?

Oliver Morton – Luna and Gaia

Sander van der Leeuw

Amanda Power

John Clarke

Kate Rawles

Nathan Mayne

Nathan Mayne

Arwen Nicholson

Oliver Morton


Tea and coffee available ahead of Creative Session

16.30 – 18.00

Creative Session

Options include: guided ‘deep time walk’ around campus and surroundings with Stephan Harding; ‘Living System Games’ with Robin de Carteret; Gaia Charter workshop with Peter Horton and James Dyke; or willow working with Jane Thomasson from Wych Willow. There is information about each of these options here.

Stephan Harding

Robin de Carteret


Jane Thomasson

Introduction to the Gaia Wise Workshop

19:00 – 20:00

Poster Session with drinks reception and Gaia Cabaret entertainment

20:00 – late

Conference Dinner and Entertainments in the Great Hall next to the Forum

After-dinner speaker – Tim Smit; then live band: ‘Clothyard Angels’ featuring Andrew Watson (find out more here.)

Tim Smith

Tim Smit

Andrew Watson

Wednesday 31 July

9:00 – 11:00

Plenary Session 4: Tipping Transformative Change

Tamara Galloway – A plastics odyssey

Jan Zalasiewicz – Visualising the anthropocene

Lee Klinger – Indigenous-based forest management – looking to the past for a way forward

Susan Canney – Applied Gaia

James Dyke – Tipping socio-ecological transformations

Jean-Francois Mercure – Tipping socio-technical transformations

Stephan Harding – Teaching Gaia

Tamara Galloway

Tamara Galloway


Jan Zalasiewicz

Lee Klinger

Susan Canney

Susan Canney

James Dyke

Jean-Francois Mercure

Stephan Harding

11:00 – 11:30

Tea and coffee

11:30 – 13:00

Panel 2: How can we create positive change (towards Gaia 2.0?)

Chair: Helen Czerski [Format: 5 min introductions then panel discussion and Q&A]

Panellists: John Elkington, Jane Fisher, Kirsty Lewis, David Schwartzman, Harry Studholme

Helen Czerski

John Elkington

Jane Fischer

Kirsty Lewis

David Schwartzman

Harry Studholme

Harry Studholme

13:00 – 13:30

Closing – Tim Lenton and the organising committee

Ages of Gaia – a new musical creation

Lunch (with Gaia Cabaret entertainment) and depart

Toby Marks

Visit: Banco de Gaia

There will be follow on workshops in the afternoon.

Women in Climate  at the University of Exeter are hosting a meeting in the Seminar Rooms 2/3 from 14:30-15:30.

Women in Gaia: from early career researchers to leading experts

We will be joined by Prof. Ros Ricakby, a biogeochemist from the University of OxfordDr Helen Czerski, a physicist and oceanographer at UCL and television presenter, and Dr Kirsty Lewis, a Climate Science Advisor at DFID (Met Office secondee). In our usual informal style, they will share their experiences about their career paths so far, from starting out as ECRs to becoming leading experts in their fields. Discussion will include some of the challenges they faced along with way and what advice they wish their early career selves had heard.

Everyone is welcome (all WiC events are open to all genders) and we always love to see new faces, so please do stay and join us for this discussion.


Agile Rabbit: Evening public Event ‘Can I do anything about Climate Change?’

Do you wonder if altering your diet, cutting down on flights, or declaring a climate emergency makes any difference to climate change? This lively discussion with world-leading speakers from politics, business, activism, and science, will move beyond superficial responses to the vital question ‘Can I do anything about climate change?’ Bring you own ideas to explore these issues together, there is plenty of time for questions and debate.

Many of us are inspired to act against Climate Change. But can small individual actions ever make a real difference, or do we need radical activism to bring meaningful change? Perhaps a systems based approach is needed, so the most beneficial outcome is also the easiest. Come along to interrogate the panel, and yourself!

Banco de Gaia, a mercury prize nominated musician, will be attending the three days of the conference and creating a special composition celebrating the work of James Lovelock and responding to the themes discussed during the event. Banco de Gaia will be collaborating with video artist Peter Dunn to create an original piece which will be performed after the public panel discussion event. The evening will continue with Banco de Gaia playing a DJ set in the bar, providing the soundtrack to continued discussions.

Tickets available through the Agile Rabbit site.
Venue: Exeter Phoenix, Gandy Street, Exeter.

More information about the events open to the general public can be found here.

agile rabbit

Agile Rabbit



Piers Forster

Penelope Endersby


Ritula Shah (Chair)


Molly Scott Cato


Danny Chivers

Steffen 2

Steffen Boehm