Our Minds Public Event

Thursday, 26 October, 2023


Over the summer of 2023, eight students who made the first cohort of the Our Mind Programme, embarked on a journey of thinking, studying, and poring over questions concerning our minds.

Why do we think the way we do? What is our mind capable of doing and how is it shaped? How does one engage the mind with creative methods? All these challenging questions and more were taken up by this creative cohort with funding from the University of Edinburgh.

The results of their work were shared with the public in an event attended by more than 50 people in the Anatomy Lecture Theatre.  We would like to share with you a glimpse of the projects that were on display:

1) Nicole Anderson, doctoral candidate in Social Anthropology, talked about her work on “Disrupting Edinburgh's Colonial Past through Proactive Repatriation”. This project aims to assemble biographies of First Nations, Inuit and Native American ancestors who were stolen from what is now called North America, and now reside in the "Skull Room" in the Anatomical Museum.  

2) Tanatsei Gambura, a graduating student based at Edinburgh College of Art, introduced the audience to her sound installation at Edinburgh Castle. Her project called “Nzira Yeparuware: Tracing Colonial Memory Through Sound” explores the psychogeography of colonial traces in the urban environment. If you wish to attend the artwork exhibition at Edinburgh Castle, until Thu 30 Nov 2023, book your tickets.                                                 

         Tracing Colonial Memory through sound


3) Jana Tomastikova, an undergraduate psychology student, gave people an on-screen taste of her tours “Bridge Your Mind with LBC”. Through this project, Jana is creating free, interactive, neuroscience-themed tours in Edinburgh for the public. The walking tours are inspired by the Lothian Birth Cohort research and Edinburgh Neuroscience. Keep an eye on our socials for future walks!

4) Mouna Chatt, an undergraduate Sociology and Politics student shared stories told to her for her project, “(Re)wayat: Renarrating Muslims in Edinburgh”. (RE)WAYAT is a project aiming to investigate what realistic and real narratives about Muslims in Edinburgh go missing in the public space. The project is motivated by the rise in anti-Muslim and Islamophobic sentiment across the United Kingdom and Europe. Illustration by Lejla Dendić​:

Illustration by Lejla Dendić

5) Caroline Wiygul, a postgraduate student and Edinburgh-based poet shared her “Poetry Rituals for Embodied Cognition”. Embodied cognition is the theory that our sensory experiences and environments are essential components of our thoughts rather than just stimuli for the brain. This project uses poetry rituals to explore how this concept might help us reckon with the impacts of climate change on our home ecosystems. Caroline has led poetry workshops to collectively generate rich, and accessible poetry that inspires the audience to consider how embodied cognition intimately links us to the landscapes we occupy.

6) Robina Rubin, an undergraduate psychology student, shared her experience working on a six week-long outreach project with socially vulnerable children in Austria. Her project, “Making Up My Mind”, aimed to foster children’s capacity to conceptualise their own minds by using activities which can expand their socio-emotional vocabulary. Robina combined storytelling and visual arts while gradually introducing children to imagining and visualising the minds of others. This eventually can result in the ability of children to verbalise the content of their own minds and empower them with tools to address problems they are facing.

7) Leo Hajducki, Philosophy & Politics student and Lead Creative Director and Curator of project “Synaesthesia”, talked about her upcoming exhibition in Summerhall, Edinburgh. Synesthesia is a collaborative and multi-disciplinary exhibition that brings together the work of various neurodivergent artists to explore the topic of neurodivergence. The aim is to allow the audience to connect and relate to people who may experience the world differently, with a particular focus on sensory stimuli, societal expectations, and the internal workings of the mind - its horrors and its delights. 

The exhibition is from 9th-19th November 2023. You can also book tickets for the launch event on the 9th of November.

8) Robyn Thomas, PhD student in social anthropology with a background in filmmaking, could not attend the event but joined the audience via her film “Unexpected Guests”. Her short ethnographic film deals with different ways people perceive and experience reality. Hearing voices, experiencing unusual sensory perceptions, and strange beliefs are commonly pathologised as psychosis, yet many people claim that these experiences can provide meaning and depth to their lives. The film revealed how a person who lives with such experiences, made sense of these, and integrated them into their shared social world. This film is due to be featured in an event called Evolving Methods of Mental Health Research, at the Edinburgh Science Festival in 2024. We will share the event information, so keep an eye out on our socials!


Special activity: “How our minds are made”

First-year students on the Translational Neuroscience PhD programme worked together to build a new interactive game, which invited members of the public to explore how our brains develop from conception to adulthood.

The event closed with a reception, with the audience getting a chance to interact with the project leads. The interesting questions and thought-provoking discussions that followed, serve to illustrate the novel conversations initiated by the Our Mind programme. Many of the students have already started to build on their work and we hope to return with yet another talented cohort and new projects for the next year!

Photo of students interacting with quiz playersPhoto of two people talking to each other

Article by Sanskruti Biswal