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NFS: Robin Dunbar and Megan Blake.

Robin Dunbar – Department of Experimental Psychology, Oxford.

Megan Blake – Food Justice, Department of Geography, Sheffield.

followed by a Morocco Loco communal meal.


As part of the first National Food Service Symposium which is part of this year's festival of the mind, we are delighted to be joined by Robin Dunbar, an Emeritus professor of evolutionary psychology at the University of Oxford who will contribute some research to inform the discussion towards a National Food Service.

Robin is most famous for discovering the Dunbar number, which is the cognitive limit the number of people whom one can maintain stable social relationships. His research is concerned with trying to understand the behavioural, cognitive and neuroendocrinological mechanisms that underpin social bonding in primates and humans. Understanding these mechanisms, and the functions that relationships serve, give us insights how humans have managed to create large-scale societies using a form of psychological that is evolutionarily adapted to very small-scale societies, and why these mechanisms are less than perfect in the modern world.

Building on his research he will join us to share his insights from his recent Breaking Bread report in which he revealed that regularly eating alone is the biggest single factor for unhappiness besides existing mental illness. The research ties in with the dialogue that Foodhall promotes that Free, public communal eating and cooking spaces need to be re-introduced in our cities to reduce public health concerns.

We will also be joined by Professor Megan Blake who will share the some of the research she has been undertaken on this topic and insights from the Food justice MA in the University.

This public talk and discussion is also an opportunity for you to contribute to the dialogue because after the talk we have a large open, public community meal cooked by the community of volunteers and we will be able to experience the idea in action and discuss the topic in detail over an informal community meal.

Accessibility information can be found here:

Earlier Event: September 22
NFS: Opening Night
Later Event: September 27
NFS: New Public Design