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Durham First

Chancellor launches university’s book of ‘Big Ideas’

Bill Bryson at book launch

At the start of March, Chancellor Bill Bryson launched a pioneering new book from Durham University at a thought-provoking and lively event at St Aidan's College. Published by Profile Books, Thinking About Almost Everything (mentioned in Durham First issue 25), contains essays by leading experts in the arts, sciences and humanities which address an array of the world's most challenging issues in an accessible and exciting way.

The publication has emerged from the University's flagship, ideas-based Institute of Advanced Study (IAS), is written by Durham University academics and edited by two of its most prominent scholars, Professors Ash Amin and Michael O'Neill. It is illustrated with a range of contemporary images from North East photographer, Andrew Heptinstall, and takes inspiration for its title from Bill Bryson's book A Short History of Nearly Everything, which won the Aventis Prize for science literature in 2006.

Thinking About Almost Everything

The purpose of the launch was to show how the best universities, like Durham, should provide an environment for the breeding of big ideas which can change both thinking about the world and practices to improve livelihood and wellbeing. Over 150 staff, students and members of the general public attended the launch event which included lively and stimulating discussion from a panel comprising three of the book's contributors, the book's editors and chaired by the Chancellor. A post-launch reception gave the audience the opportunity to speak to members of the discussion panel as well as to many of the book's other contributors.

IAS Executive Director and book co-editor, Professor Ash Amin, said: "The book assembles the 65 short essays into nine categories that suggest links between seemingly dissimilar topics, connecting, say, the way in which one poem influences another and the findings of archaeology. This book is not only a pleasure to read but also one that sustains curiosity and interest throughout."