5 Big Questions: Dr Heather Allansdottir


Ever wondered what laws govern space, and who ‘owns’ what?

Did you know that post-war engineers built a machine that used water to explain economics to economists?

Why is being ‘t-shaped’ something we should all aspire to?

In the hot-seat for the first 5 Big Questions interview is polymath legal expert, scholar, writer, baker, novelist, linguist and human rights activist DR HEATHER ALLANSDOTTIR.



Known for:

  • Associate Professor of Law – Bifröst University (Iceland)

  • Legal Advisor – Jus Ad Astra
  • Advisory Board Member – CARPAL

  • Advisory Board Member – Indian Journal for Energy and Infrastructure Law and Policy (India)
  • Visiting Fellow – Beijing Institute of Technology, Institute of Space Law and Policy (China)
  • Visiting Fellow – Lauterpacht Centre for International Law, University of Cambridge (UK)
  • Author – Psalm 119
  • Author – Literary Freedom: A Cultural Right to Literature
  • Winner – Helene du Coudray Prize for Literature (2008)

The 5 Big Questions:

    1. How do you measure the impact of what you do?
    2. How should people/businesses be preparing for the future?
    3. How do we build the workforce we need for that future?
    4. How do you use creativity to solve problems?
    5. How do you collaborate?

Key quotes

“We just don’t have the paradigms in international law for any of the stuff that’s happening in space. We basically have about two years to come up with frameworks, or it’s going to happen without any provisions in law.”

“In some countries, private space exploration, private companies are more active than the national space agency. So what are the dynamic there, in terms of national law?”

“If you embed something in a national constitution, the dandelion clock gets blown and it scatters into all the other constitutions.”

“One thing that’s made me really sad being back in Oxford… I see the STEM and the humanities people sort of sniping at each other and scrambling for breadcrumbs.”

“Data science doesn’t make sense without narrative. And narrative doesn’t make sense without facts. And with this huge conversation about misinformation and Presidents tweeting that you should use bleach to cure illnesses, we’re starting to understand the relationship between narrative and data and how they fit together.”

This episode was recorded in October 2021

Interviewer: Richard Freeman for always possible

Editor: CJ Thorpe-Tracey for Lo Fi Arts


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