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Catastrophe and Systemic Change: Learning from the Grenfell Tower Fire and Other Disasters

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Four years on from the tragic event, former Grenfell Tower resident, Gill Kernick, talks about her new book, Catastrophe and Systemic Change: Learning from the Grenfell Tower Fire and Other Disasters, two of its key themes – piecemeal v systemic change and the conditions that hold the status quo in place – and the need for systemic change to prevent future catastrophes.

She is joined by Jill Rutter, Senior Fellow at the Institute for Government, to talk about why it’s so hard to implement policy lessons from past catastrophes, what it would take to enable real systemic change, and who needs to listen and learn.

Chaired by Diane Coyle, Bennett Professor of Public Policy, asks questions on rules and regulations, accountability, profit v’s safety, risk, culture and leadership.

Guest speakers 

Gill Kernick works with senior executives in high hazard industries to develop the culture and leadership to prevent catastrophic events. She lived on the 21st floor of Grenfell Tower from 2011 to 2014. Seven of her former neighbours died. Gill writes and speaks to bring the thinking of major accident prevention to Grenfell. She edits “The Grenfell Enquirer” dedicated to learning and preventing such events.

Jill Rutter is a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Government, and a Senior Research Fellow of UK in a Changing Europe. She works on better policy making and Brexit. She is an experienced former senior civil servant, having worked in HM Treasury, Number 10 and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). 


Professor Diane Coyle  is the Bennett Professor of Public Policy at the University of Cambridge. She co-directs the Bennett Institute where she heads research under the themes of progress and productivity, and has been a government adviser on economic policy, including throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Image credit: “Grenfell Tower protest – Whitehall” – by Alan Denney is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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