Inaugural Lecture of Professor Sarah Beck

On Wednesday 25 May 2022, Professor Sarah Beck delivered her Inaugural Lecture – Imagination and Innovation.

“People don’t limit themselves to thinking about what is real. We speculate about how the world might be different now, as well as wondering how events might have turned out differently in the past or will unfold in the future. The central thread through my work is how different minds achieve this and how we deploy these abilities to learn about the world and solve problems. I will focus mainly on work with young children, exploring the development of highly imaginative pretenders into innovative problem solvers. I will also make links to work with human adults and non-human animals.”

Sarah Beck is a cognitive developmental psychologist researching and teaching in the areas of imagination and problem solving. She gained her undergraduate degree in Psychology and Philosophy from the University of Oxford. After a brief dalliance with Public Health Medicine, Sarah joined the University of Birmingham as a research assistant and then PhD student. As an adopted Brummie, she has worked at the university ever since, being appointed to a faculty position in 2003.

Working with many interdisciplinary collaborators, 20 PhD students, and funded primarily by the ESRC, British Academy, and Leverhulme Trust, Sarah has published more than 60 papers and co-edited a volume “Understanding Counterfactuals, Understanding Causation”

Sarah has been Deputy Head of School of Psychology and is currently the Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Lead for the College of Life and Environmental Sciences. She has served on the Experimental Psychology Society Committee and is a member of the European Society for Philosophy and Psychology Advisory Board. She is an editor of the journal Mind and Language and on the editorial board of the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology.

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