Madingley Lecture - The Red Queen: why societies collapse | Institute of Continuing Education (ICE) skip to content

Institute of Continuing Education (ICE)


As we ponder the chaos surrounding leadership and uncertainty in today’s world, it is worth taking time to reflect on those cultures, attitudes and approaches that either bind us together or force us apart. Learning from alternative worlds and realities allows us to reflect on the rights and wrongs of our own beliefs and attitudes.

Madingley Lectures, arranged by the University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education present a series of snapshots of other cultures, other worlds, distanced from our own by time and place.

The Red Queen: why societies collapse, Dr Luke Kemp

Our deep past is marked by recurring failure and transformation. Empires, kingdoms and societies around the globe have collapsed throughout history. Is our global society destined for the same fate? Anthropologists and others have identified causes of collapse such as inequality, complexity, environmental degradation, external shocks (natural disasters and invasions) and just sheer bad luck. Luke examines these competing explanations and brings them under a single theory: the Red Queen Effect. He then investigates modern metrics for each of these contributors to collapse to determine whether our chance of falling is rising.

Dr Luke Kemp is a Research Associate at the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER) at the University of Cambridge. He focuses on how we can foresee and govern global risks. He has advised the Australian Parliament on ratifying the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change and his research has been covered by media such as the New York Times, the Guardian, the Washington Post, the BBC and the New Yorker. Luke holds both a Doctorate in International Relations and a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies with first class honours from the ANU.

Complimentary tea and coffee available on arrival. Cash bar open after the lecture.

Event date

Tuesday, 30 April, 2019 - 18:30


University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education
Madingley Hall
CB23 8AQ