Brunel International Lecture Series: 21st Century Leadership is Partnership

Over the coming months, ICE’s Brunel International Lecture series will travel virtually across the globe. Delivered by Seth Schultz, the programme, already underway, comprises eight lectures. Check back regularly for series updates.

Brunel International Lecture Series
Brunel International Lecture Series

The thirteenth edition of the Brunel International Lecture Series, entitled 21st Century Leadership is Partnership: How a Coalition of the World’s Engineers can Change the World, examines the challenges facing civil engineers and what is needed to deliver a carbon neutral, resilient society.

The online lecture programme, led by Seth Schultz, Executive Director of The Resilience Shift and co-founder of the International Coalition for Sustainable Infrastructure (ICSI), also offers specific insights on digitisation, urbanisation, diversity and skills, under an overarching theme of global and local partnership.

Brunel International Lecture Series schedule

Check back for full confirmation of times and dates, as well as regular updates from the series.

Watch Seth Schultz's animated promo for the lecture series below.

Latest News

Africa leg reiterates need for collaboration on skills development - 8 June 2021

Strategic partnerships and the upskilling of local engineers were high on the agenda at the Africa leg of the series.

Lecturer Seth Schultz also noted the expected increase in infrastructure demand on the continent.

Speaking alongside a range of regional experts, Schultz warned the current numbers of engineering students in sub-Saharan African countries sits below 100,000, against a backdrop of rapid urbanisation and population growth.

Finlo Paish, ICE country representative for Ghana, added that it was increasingly the time for local engineers to take over from expatriates, stating: “The days of dinosaurs like me, who have been lucky enough to live overseas and work as an expatriate all my life, are gone. We need to be replaced by well-trained, well-educated Africans."

Read the full write-up and watch the lecture.

Series resumes with carbon costs warning from Americas experts – 4 June 2021

The Brunel International Lecture Series resumed with a trip to the Americas in late May, with discussion centering on the need to consider carbon costs alongside capital outlay in the building of infrastructure.

Tony Gibbs, past president of the Barbados Association of Professional Engineers and a past vice president of the UK’s Institution of Structural Engineers, specialises in designing infrastructure to withstand extreme weather and earthquakes.

With the Caribbean hit by such natural factors in recent years, he said: “The major challenge for civil engineers in the Caribbean is that losses from single natural hazard events routinely reach the level of the gross domestic product of small island states. The most expensive projects are those that fail because they have to be rebuilt.”

caribbean houses hit by hurricane

Caribbean houses damaged after hurricane disaster. Image credit: Shutterstock

Series lecturer Seth Schultz, executive director of The Resilience Shift, reiterated the need for systems-thinking and innovations such as blue-green infrastructure - an approach to urban flood resilience that utilises urban green spaces and naturalised water flows.

“This sounds outlandish but our entire process of development aid is to go in and clean up after a problem – we can’t keep spending billions and trillions of dollars fixing problems that we know will be repeated,” he noted.

Read the full write-up and watch the lecture.

Pause for thought with new Brunel speaker blogs – 9 April 2021

Zainab Alhimdani
Zainab AlHamdani, a panellist on the Middle East leg of the Brunel Lecture series, wrote about how she's breaking down stereotypes in a man's world.

The series takes a brief hiatus in April ahead of its virtual visit to the Americas on 19 May. Meanwhile, three recent panellists have reflected on the lectures and wider civil engineering issues in blogs for ICE.

Jennifer Stables and Zainab AlHamdani both featured at the latest Brunel event in the Middle East and kicked off the Women Like Us blog series by detailing, respectively, how moving abroad proved a career kickstart and how to break down gender stereotypes in a male dominated society.

Majda Dabaghi, Director of Inclusive & Green Growth at the International Chamber of Commerce, featured at the European Brunel discussion and used her blog to urge engineers and infrastructure professionals from smaller organisations to join the United Nations Race to Zero campaign by making the SME Climate Commitment.

UAE minister urges ‘critical’ climate adaptation measures – 11 March

Dr Abdullah Belhaif Al Nuaimi
Dr Abdullah Belhaif Al Nuaimi speaking at the Brunel Lecture.

Senior Middle East politicians used the latest lecture of the series to call on civil engineers to drive the region’s move towards net zero infrastructure.

Dr Abdullah Belhaif Al Nuaimi, cabinet member and minister of climate change and environment of the United Arab Emirates, said the shift to green building was critical in the region, adding that it was up to engineers to be the catalyst.

“Taking proactive climate adaptation measures over the entire infrastructure life is critical” he warned.

Al Nuaimi was joined by Fahad Al Jubeir, mayor of Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province, who agreed that engineers had a key role to play, adding that, in order to be truly influential, they needed to embrace a wider skillset.

Read the full write-up and watch the lecture.

UAE Minister for Climate Change confirmed for Middle East lecture - 1 March 2021

Dr. Abdullah Belhaif Al Nuaimi, UAE Cabinet Member and Minister of Climate Change and Environment, will join the next stage of the Brunel International Lecture Series.

The Middle East leg of the tour takes place on 3 March and sees Dr. Abdullah join lecturer Seth Schultz and a panel of regional experts to examine the challenges and opportunities for civil engineers in delivering a carbon neutral, resilient society.

The event will also explore areas including the development of local skills and talent, gender balance in engineering, the expansion of educational opportunities for engineering students as well as the need to consider wider project benefits.

Featuring Fahad Al Jubeir, mayor of Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province, alongside Jennifer Stables, senior project manager at AECOM and ICE Qatar country representative, the discussion will be chaired by ICE’s Director of Engineering Knowledge, Mark Hansford.

Opening remarks will come from Prof. Dr. Sabih Gatea Khisaf - HyperloopTT’s infrastructure lead engineer, with more than 37 years’ experience in executing rail infrastructure and infrastructure development programs in the UK, Europe and the Middle East.

Completing the line-up are Mark Jamieson, ICE MEA Council member and UAE country representative, Zainab Al Himdani, a graduate member civil engineer currently with Atkins who also serves as an ICE Oman Committee member, and urban planning and sustainable development expert, Huda Shaka, associate advisor at the Royal Commission for Makkah City and Holy Sites.

Read the full write-up and watch the lecture.

Engineers urged to ‘rethink and rebuild’ in the battle against climate change - 15 February

Lecturer Seth Schultz has called for a “massive repurposing and retraining” of existing engineers to make up for the skills gap in the sector when tackling climate change.

Speaking on the latest leg of the tour, held virtually in Europe, Schultz cautioned that, while the confidence, trust and rigour of the engineering profession had been amassed through codification, the practice itself had "calcified".

Prioritising skills such as energy efficiency, renewable electricity, decarbonising industry and carbon sequestration were essential – all while working towards the goal of resilient infrastructure – he added, concluding: “The very way we do business needs to be torn down, rethought, and rebuilt.”

Read the full write-up and watch the lecture.

It's the final countdown to Europe's Brunel lecture - 3 February

Majda Dabaghi, Director of the Inclusive & Green Growth Knowledge Hub at the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), is to join an expert panel for the European leg of the series later today.

Dabaghi leads the ICC’s work on sustainability, climate action and biodiversity and last year co-founded the SME Climate Hub. She will offer an assessment on her role in supporting businesses with their climate change participation and how best to bridge the gap between business and climate action.

She joins Michael Phillips, previously the President of Engineers Ireland and former engineer at the City of Dublin, Ireland, who will explain why civil engineers should help support decisionmakers at the start of the infrastructure development process, as well as Milda Pladaite, Blue Book Trainee at the European Commission DG GROW Unit of Engineering, Maritime and Rail Industries.

Pladaite is an ICE representative on the World Federation of Engineering Organisations’ (WFEO) Young Engineers Future Leaders Committee, and will discuss the role of future engineers in policymaking and why they should consider global targets and what’s needed for transitioning.

Former Brunel lecturer Dame Jo da Silva, Director of International Development at Arup, is also confirmed to feature at the third lecture of the series, which will be moderated by José M Lores, ICE Council Member for Europe and Central Asia.

Read the full write-up and watch the lecture.

'How we engage with China is absolutely critical’ – 13 January

The civil engineering community must engage with, and learn from, China in order to equip themselves for the net-zero carbon challenge.

That was the message from lecturer Seth Schultz at the East Asia leg of the series last week, where he continued to urge those within the industry to move away from isolationism and competition and towards collaboration and coordination.

Schultz was welcomed by Sai-Hung Lam, ICE Hong Kong representative and HKSAR government permanent Secretary of Development (Works), and a host of other experts in the region.

Read the full write-up and watch the lecture.

Series shifts focus to East Asia – 5 January

The Brunel International Lecture Series moves virtually to East Asia on 6 January, 2021.

Lecturer Seth Schultz and a panel of industry experts will analyse the big engineering issues in the region regarding climate change and partnership, as well as the obstacles to delivering a carbon neutral, resilient society.

Mr Lam Sai-Hung, JP, Permanent Secretary for Development (Works) at HKSAR Government and ICE Representative for Hong Kong, will open proceedings and introduce the event before the main presentation is followed by a panel discussion and Q&A session.

Re-watch the opening lecture of the series.

Collaboration is key – main message as lecture series kicks-off – 3 Dec

The civil engineering industry should worry less about competition so that it can accelerate collaboration to deal with the urgency of climate change.

That was the message from Seth Schultz at the first of the Brunel International Lecture series, which kicked-off yesterday.

Schultz, executive director of The Resilience Shift, said that engineers needed to work together as a community practice to share solutions. The coming decade is pivotal in tackling climate change, but it will require “radical partnership, innovation, failure and adaptability,” he said.

Read the full write-up and watch the lecture.

Series to get underway with presidential welcome – 23 November

The latest edition of the Brunel International Lecture Series will begin on 2 December, where ICE President Rachel Skinner will welcome lecturer Seth Schultz.

With a 20-year career as a geologist and environmental scientist, Schultz has worked with some of the world’s leading organisations to drive change in urban sustainability and raise awareness of the role of cities in tackling climate change.

Following his presentation, there will be a live discussion among panelists, including President’s Future Leader, Clifford Francis, and an audience Q&A, moderated by Mark Hansford, ICE’s Director of Engineering Knowledge.

Read Seth Schultz's blog on the opening of the International Lecture series.