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‘Our Coast’: OU in Wales explores Anglesey with free online event

Adrian Chiles and Sian Sykes

On Tuesday 23 June, The Open University in Wales held a free online event which explored the environmental science and research behind the Anglesey episode of BBC Two’s ‘Our Coast’

Streamed from the OU in Wales Facebook page, the live discussion covered key topics from the BBC episode, including the impact of climate change on our sea levels and coastal areas, and the effect plastics are having on marine life and beaches. 

Bringing the Welsh coast to life online

The event was originally due to take place on Anglesey, as part of the OU’s OpenTalks series in Wales. However, the free public lecture was moved online following the Coronavirus outbreak, so that communities and those studying at home were still able to join. 

A peak of 101 live viewers joined the online stream from their homes. OU in Wales Director, Louise Casella, introduced two OU academics – Dr Vicky Johnson and Dr Marcus Badger, who worked on the ‘Our Coast’ series –  and paddleboarder and anti-plastic campaigner Sian Sykes, who took BBC presenter Adrian Chiles on a tour of the coastline during the Wales episode.

It's great, and very in keeping with the OU mission, that, even though we can't be in Anglesey, we can still run the event online and speak to an even wider audience about the topics in the 'Our Coast' series.

Dr Marcus Badger
Lecturer in Earth Sciences at The Open University

Dr Johnson and Dr Badger discussed the OU’s involvement in the ‘Our Coast’ series. They explored issues around dune management and sea level change, and plastics in the ocean, using their own research and clips from the programme.  

‘Dunes provide protection for low lying land behind them which can include residential areas’, said Dr Johnson. ‘They act as a natural sea barrier rather than a hard-engineered defence.’ 

‘A healthy coastline needs to be shaped by, but also react to, natural forces. Whilst, in recent history, we’ve had more engineered defences in urban areas, we need to look at a sustainable, longer term plan.’

Plastic free Anglesey

Viewers heard from Sian Sykes, an Anglesey-based paddleboarder and anti-plastic campaigner. Her campaign work helped Anglesey become the first county in the UK to be awarded 'plastic free' community status by marine conservation group, Surfers Against Sewage (SAS). 

‘There’s been a massive disconnection between what people buy and the effects it has on the environment,’ said Sian. ‘I wanted to highlight how we’ve become such a disposable, single-use society. Manufacturers and retailers have put unnecessary barriers in place for us as consumers and I want to stop it at source.’ 

The online event concluded with a live Q&A where viewers asked their questions to the guest speakers. 

Watch the event now

A recording of the ‘Our Coast’ event can be viewed here. It can be used as a free learning resource for those interested in environmental science, geography, geology, and social responsibility, and those currently studying at home.  

Learn more about the ‘Our Coast’ series on OpenLearn

Meet our OU experts

Dr Vicky Johnson – Lecturer in Geography

Vicky's teaching and research focuses on elements of environmental study. This includes the value of elements to the environment, such as seawater quality, and how society reacts both to the generation of these values and their uses. Vicky leads the economics line of study across different OU modules of study in relation to the environment.


Dr Marcus Badger – Lecturer in Earth Sciences

Marcus’ research explores the links between the Earth’s climate and the carbon cycle on multi-million year timescales. He uses a range of approaches including the geochemistry of molecular and carbonate fossils, alongside computational climate models. Marcus teaches across the environment and Earth sciences curriculum at The Open University.

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