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2021 Hopkins Lecture: Will science and engineering save our civilisation? Presented by Dr Rod Carr.

06/10/2021 at 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Harnessing the energy in fossil fuels has underpinned the civilisation we have created, allowing us to abolish slavery and child labour, feed and house billions of people, roll back the night, connect communities and trade huge volumes over vast distances.

The science is clear. The combustion of fossil fuels in the open air at the current levels is the cause of changes to the climate that are destroying ecosystems and species consistent with other great extinction events that have occurred on our planet.

Will our civilisation, characterised by individualism, market exchange, financial capital, consumerism and popularly elected leaders, enable science and engineering to make the contribution it can, in the time we have, to mitigate the damage and adapt to the changes ahead?


Dr Rod Carr has extensive experience in both public and private sector governance and leadership. He served as Chair and non-executive director of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand and served as Deputy Governor and for a time Acting Governor of the Bank. Dr Carr was the founding Chair of the National Infrastructure Advisory Board and for over a decade was a non-executive director of the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce. He led the University of Canterbury as Vice Chancellor for ten years, and holds a PhD in Insurance and Risk Management, an MA in Applied Economics and Managerial Science, an MBA in Money and Finance and honours degrees in law and economics.

Dr Carr is currently serving as Chairperson for the New Zealand Climate Change Commission | He Pou a Rangi.

Background of the Hopkins Lecture

The Hopkins Lecture encourages discussion of engineering within the profession and public understanding of engineering issues. The inaugural lecture was held in 1978 with Professor HJ Hopkins himself as speaker. It covers broad and social engineering issues rather than being purely technical.

The Hopkins Lecture is hosted by the Department of Civil and Natural Resources Engineering and supported by the Canterbury Branch of Engineering New Zealand.

Alert Level Contingency Plan

In the event that Christchurch moves to Alert Level 1 before the Hopkins Lecture date, we will run the event with an in-person audience size as per guidance, however in the event Christchurch remains at Level 2, the event will move online with limited in person attendance.

As the hope is that we will be in Level 1, but we are mindful that we may not be, a waitlist may be operated for those who are not successful in securing in person tickets at this point. If we do move to Alert Level 1, those who are waitlisted will be offered tickets first.

Please note that this Lecture will be livestreamed regardless of the Alert Level so will be available online.

Online Registration for Livestream Link Only

A registration section has been added for those who wish to register to receive the livestream link once it is available and do not want to register for in person attendance. If you wish to register your interest, we would love to hear from you.