Wesley Methodist Church

A church for all in the heart of the city

Science Meets Faith

Monthly lectures on the Second Monday of the month from October to June, 7.15 pm for 7.45 pm


Please see below for details of our next lecture and the 2018/19 lecture programme.  

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Our next meeting:

Monday 8 April 2019, at 7.45 pm

"Driverless Cars: Their Impact on Society"

Prof Helen Atkinson, Pro Vice Chancellor, Cranfield University

Professor Atkinson has been PVC and Head of the School of Aerospace, Transport Systems and Manufacturing at Cranfield University since 2017. She was previously Head of the Engineering Department at Leicester University and then Graduate Dean with oversight of ~2000 PhD students. She was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2007, the highest honour for an engineer in the UK. At the time she was one of only 29 women fellows alongside 1400 men. She was the first woman President of the Engineering Professors' Council (the body which represents engineering in universities throughout the UK) in its fifty year history and has also served as a Vice President and Trustee of the Royal Academy of Engineering. In 2010 she won a national award as a ‘Woman of Outstanding Achievement in Science, Engineering and Technology’ for ‘leadership and inspiration to others’. She chairs the Royal Academy of Engineering Fellows Reference Group for the ‘This is Engineering’ social media campaign to encourage more young people to choose engineering as a career. The campaign has now achieved over 30 million video views in just over one year. Professor Atkinson graduated from Cambridge University, with a first in the Physical Sciences Tripos in 1981, and was a member of MethSoc.

Driverless cars have the potential to reduce traffic, cut pollution and save thousands of lives each year. After a brief introduction to how they work, Professor Atkinson will discuss some of the potential impacts on society, including whether they will exacerbate the North-South (or city-rural) divide, the impact on public finances and on power structures, insurance, city planning, empowerment of those who cannot drive themselves, safety, and issues around the transition regime when both cars with drivers and driverless vehicles are on the road. There will also be some active participation for the audience on the ethical dilemmas faced in relation to driverless cars.

 Programme for 2018/19

Listen Again

Recordings of many of the lectures from last year's series are available to listen again.