Here you can find recordings of all the previous online events

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.