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LSE Festival 2024: Invertebrate minds

15 June, 2:00 pm3:00 pm


Human beings are part of a vast sentient world full of conscious creatures, and even those of us far away from centres of political power have immense influence over huge numbers of animal lives – influence which we can choose to exercise for good or ill. 

While we are perhaps becoming more conscious of issues around animal welfare, we often overlook those invertebrate animals which are extremely small, poorly understood, and easy to underestimate. What can we do to protect their welfare, and what steps are proportionate?

Date and time: Saturday, 15 June 2024, 2:00pm-3:00pm

Location: Marshall Building

Meet our speakers and chair

Sam Beckbessinger is the author of the bestselling Manage Your Money Like a Fucking Grownup and the novel Girls of Little Hope (co-authored with Dale Halvorsen). Her interactive story about climate change, Survive the Century, was featured in New Scientist and Gizmodo. She teaches creative writing at Bath Spa University, writes kids’ TV and picture books, once wrote for Marvel, and is weirdly obsessed with spreadsheets.

Jonathan Birch is Professor of Philosophy at the LSE and Principal Investigator (PI) on the Foundations of Animal Sentience project. In 2021, he led a “Review of the Evidence of Sentience in Cephalopod Molluscs and Decapod Crustaceans” that led to invertebrate animals including octopuses, crabs and lobsters being included in the UK government’s Sentience Bill. In addition to his interest in animal sentience, cognition and welfare, he also has a longstanding interest in the evolution of altruism and social behaviour. His first book, The Philosophy of Social Evolution, was published by Oxford University Press in 2017.

Elli Leadbeater is Professor of Biological Sciences at the Royal Holloway, interested in the ecology and evolution of social animals, particularly bees. Her research group studies both fundamental questions about communication and social behaviour, and applied questions in pollinator conservation.

Daria Zakharova is a PhD student in the Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method at LSE. She is interested in biological and artificial minds. Together with an interdisciplinary team, Daria has created the art installation “In search of Spider Consciousness” for Nowhere Festival in 2023, which invites people to enter the head of a giant Portia spider to discover the mind of an arthropod. Together with her artistic collaborators, she will be showcasing the VR version of the installation as part of the LSE Festival exhibition “Displays of Power”, offering an immersive experience into the artistic interpretation of Portia’s cognition to the guests.

Bryan Roberts is Associate Professor and Director of the Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science, LSE. He specialises in the foundations of physics.

More about the event

This event is part of the LSE Festival: Power and Politics running from Monday 10 to Saturday 15 June 2024, with a series of events exploring how power and politics shape our world.

More information and link to the booking portal.


15 June
2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Event Category:


Marshall Building