Hot Topic Talks

Hot Topic Talks is an occasional series of non-technical presentations featuring speakers who are carrying out cutting-edge research and/or participating in important social and political debates.

I decided to create the series because it seems to me that universities are currently failing pretty badly in relation to two of their main responsibilities—passing on to the public the new knowledge that their researchers generate, and facilitating public discussion about controversial issues. Organizing a series of plain-language presentations seemed like one way in which I could help improve the situation, at least at the local level.

I don’t have any dedicated funds to support the series at the moment, so I will organize the events as and when I can. (Needless to say, if you are interested in financially supporting one or more of the talks, please email me.) I will try to hold most of the events at SFU’s campus in downtown Vancouver so that they are more accessible.


23 APRIL 2020 – TALK

Speaker: Yasmine Mohammed
Title: “Unveiled”
Location: Labatt Hall (Room 1700), Harbour Centre, Vancouver.
Time: 19:00-21:00

I am co-organizing this event with Pat O’Brien of the Centre for Inquiry Canada.

If you would like to follow Yasmine on Twitter, her handle is @YasMohammedxx.



* ** Please note that the venue has changed ***

Speakers:  Meghan Murphy, Anna Slatz, Jon Kay, Lindsay Shepherd
Title: “How Media Bias Shapes the Gender Identity Debate.”
Location: Originally Fletcher Challenge Theatre (Room 1900), Harbour Centre, Vancouver. Transferred to Pan Pacific Hotel, Vancouver.
Time: 17:30-19:30

I co-organized this event with Amy Eileen Hamm and Meghan Murphy of It was part of their #GIDYVR Still Talking Series. Unfortunately, I had to cancel the room booking at SFU due to threats from activists—threats that meant the safety of the participants and attendees could not be guaranteed. Thankfully, Amy and Meghan were able to move the event and it went ahead as planned.

If you would like to learn more about this debacle, two colleagues and I have written a piece about the reaction to the event and its implications for academic freedom at SFU. The piece appeared in the newsletter of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship and can be downloaded here.


18 MARCH 2019 – TALK

Speaker: Lee Mellor
Title: “DirtySpeak for Dark Business: Talking Sexual Homicide in 21st Century ‘Safe Space’ Culture?”
Location: Room 1530, Harbour Centre, Vancouver.
Time: 19:00-20:30

Lee is a true-crime writer and alternative country musician. He recently completed a PhD in criminology at Concordia University. If you would like to follow Lee on Twitter, his handle is @profmellor.



Speaker: Lindsay Shepherd (Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms)
Title: “Free Speech: Legacies and  Mobilization”
Location: 1315 Scotiabank Lecture Room, Harbour Centre, Vancouver.
Time: 19:00-20:30

Lindsay recently completed an MA at Wilfrid Laurier University. She rose to international prominence when she exposed WLU’s unethical conduct in relation to her. She is now a Campus Free Speech Fellow at the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.

Lindsay’s talk was originally due to take place on 23-Jan-19 but had to be postponed due to unforeseen circumstances. Apologies if you were expecting to attend then.

If you would like to follow Lindsay on Twitter, her handle is @NewWorldHominin.