Here you can find recordings of all the previous online events
Armchair travel: The origins of dinosaurs
Our September Armchair Travel event will delve into the latest evidence for the origins of dinosaurs, in what is now South America. Professor Paul Barrett will discuss how dinosaurs became some of the most successful land animals of all time and plot their evolutionary journey from starting as small, rare animals living in the shadows of many other early reptiles in what is now Argentina and Brazil, to going on to dominate the Earth.
Professor Barrett is the Natural History Museum's senior dinosaur specialist and a world-leading expert on the evolution and biology of dinosaurs and other extinct reptiles. He has previously held the position of Departmental Lecturer in the Department of Zoology at Oxford and is a frequent contributor to dinosaur-related news in the media, most recently on Channel 5's World of Wonder series. Professor Barrett will also be accompanying next year's alumni trip to Argentina
Armchair travel: What does architecture tell us about the Russians?
For July’s Armchair Travel event, we are delighted to welcome Professor Alexei Leporc, Curator of Western European Art at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg. Alexei was previously Professor of 15th to 20th century West European Art and Architecture at St Petersburg European University, and is a regular and popular face on our annual St Petersburg alumni tour.
Alexei will explore Russian architecture against a social, artistic, economic and political panorama, questioning whether architectural heritage plots a nation's history or shapes its culture and examining the relationship between national character and national architecture. He will even ask whether the age old canonical forms such as onion domes, hipped roofs and non-stop ornamentation are actually Russian.
Armchair travel: Lost cities of Ancient Caria
This month’s Armchair Travel event will take us to the Carian and Lycian coasts of western Turkey. Beyond the glorious crystal blue waters, this area boasts an extraordinary tapestry of traces of past civilisations. Professor Richard Hunter will introduce this part of the Mediterranean, focussing on two themes in particular: Bodrum (ancient Halicarnassus) as a city of writing and myth, and Knidos, where Praxiteles' famous' statue of the naked Aphrodite attracted both visitors and a rich body of legend.
Professor Hunter has been Regius Professor of Greek at the University of Cambridge since 2001. His research interests include Hellenistic and Roman poetry, ancient literary criticism and Greek literature and religion.
Armchair travel: Kipling - How the writer found his voice
Join Dr Sarah Shaw for our next instalment of the Armchair Travel series as she looks at how the influences of Kipling’s own childhood, and his passion for Indian culture and life contributed to the formation of his great children’s classics. The talk will explore how his encounters with animals and the natural environment in India, his longstanding love for the country’s oral story traditions, as well as the sounds of the jungle and his Ayah’s soothing voice offered great inspiration for his tales about Mowgli, Shere Khan and Baloo.
Dr Sarah Shaw is a Faculty Member at the Oriental Institute at the University of Oxford and an Honorary Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies. One of her key research interests is Indian and Asian influences on British nineteenth century writers.
Armchair travel: A Himalayan adventure - Nepal's rocks and temples
Nepal is home not only to the spectacular mountains and rock formations of the Himalayas, but also to a complex mix of Hindu and Buddhist cultures going back 2,000 years or more. Our very own Professor David Gellner, Professor of Social Anthropology, and Professor Mike Searle, Professor of Earth Sciences, are teaming up to give an anthropological and geological perspective of Nepal ahead of their alumni tour there later this year.
David will introduce the rich Hindu-Buddhist civilization of the Kathmandu Valley and the fascinating Tibetan Buddhist kingdom of Mustang. Mike will then dive into the geological history of the Himalayas, in particular the spectacular geology of the Annapurna Range and Kali Gandaki gorge.
Armchair travel: Central Balkans - past and present
This armchair travel instalment takes us to the Central Balkans where we will explore its complex but fascinating history and cultures. Nirvana Romell is a native of Dalmatia and is a lecturer in Balkan art and history. She has accompanied many alumni tours over the years and will be the trip scholar on our trip to North Macedonia in the autumn.
Nirvana’s talk will focus on ex-Yugoslavia and Albania, explaining the socio-historical background of numerous political divisions. It will also introduce some of the key monuments of this melting pot of Slavic, Roman, Byzantine, Venetian, Ottoman, Habsburg and other heritages, where art and culture serve as a bridge in national and political divisions.
This event is being run and organised by Distant Horizons, who have been organising alumni tours for us for over 20 years.
Armchair travel: Fire and fury in Iceland
Join Cambridge’s Professor Robert (Bob) White as he explains how the geologically youthful Iceland has grown above the plate tectonic rift between North America and Europe in the centre of the Atlantic Ocean by successive paroxysms of often violent, and always spectacular volcanic eruptions. Bob is Professor of Geophysics in the Department of Earth Sciences at Cambridge and is a Fellow of the Royal Society. He will be accompanying a tour to Iceland later this year as part of the Oxford Journeys travel programme.
In 2014, Bob and his team were fortunate to capture the largest eruption in Iceland since 1775 by tracking the molten rock as it travelled laterally for 50 km underground at a depth of 6 km before erupting in central Iceland. He will describe his work in one of the remotest areas on earth tracking the molten rock, with videos of the eruption and advancing lava flows taken from within touching distance. A preview of Bob’s work can be viewed here.
Armchair travel: Curious physicists
Join Professor Roger Davies, Philip Wetton Professor of Astrophysics & Director of the Hintze Centre for Astrophysical Surveys, as he explains how the 2020 recipients of the Nobel Prize for Physics showed that black holes were predicted by Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity and how they were able to demonstrate the existence of such a super-massive black hole at the heart of our own galaxy. This talk coincided with a total solar eclipse crossing Chile and Argentina.
This event was hosted by the tour operator Last Frontiers who is organising the 2021 Astronomy & Wine tour to Argentina which will be accompained by Professor Davies.
Armchair travel: Curious naturalists
Professor Nick Davies (Camb) takes us on a journey to some of the biodiversity hotspots of South and Central America, wild and wonderful places with amazing wildlife. He explains how the curiosity and evolutionary ideas of early naturalists are still an inspiration for travellers and scientists today.
This event was hosted by the tour operator Last Frontiers who is organising the 2022 Wildlife of Peru tour which will be accompanied by Professor Nick Davies.