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Videos
Hands on or hands off?
Hands on or hands off? EGU 2018
Plan it Earth
Plan it Earth: 
Is there enough resource for all?
EGU 2016
The Thirsty 10 Billion
The Thirsty 10 Billion:
Are we managing?: EGU 2014
Geoengineering the climate
Geoengineering the climate:
the way forward?: EGU 2014
Decline and Fool
Decline and Fool Videos
Waking The Dawn
Great North East Youth
HYPODS project videos
Whatever Happened to Equality? interviews
Whatever Happened to Equality? speaker interviews, 
November 2012
Equality, Equity and the Dispossessed
Equality, Equity and the Dispossessed, 
November 2012
Equality vs Difference
Equality vs Difference debate,
November 2012
school debate competition final 2011: nuclear power
The Great Debate schools Competition final 2011:
'Nuclear power is the answer to the world’s energy problems'
great northern youth voices
great northern youth voices videos
Infrastructure Debate
The Great Infrastructure Debate, 
April 2012
Transport Challenges
The Challenges of Sustainable Transport,
March 2012
The Future of Energy
The Future of Energy for the North East,
December 2011
Too Many People?
Too Many People? debate, 
November 2011
Engineering the Future
Engineering the Future debate, 
November 2011
Facing the Future
vox pops
Facing the Future vox pops, 
November 2011
Facing the Future
interviews
Facing the Future speaker interviews, 
November 2011
Visions for the Future of the City
Visions for the Future of the City, 
October 2011
Economic Growth: Bane or Boon? Porritt & Ben-Ami
Economic Growth: Bane or Boon? 
Head to head debate between Daniel Ben-Ami and Jonathon Porritt
Oct 2010
Limits to Growth
Limits to Growth debate with Daniel Ben-Ami, 
Richard Dyer and Phil O'Keefe, August 2010
Food & Water Security
Food & Water Security debate with Tony Allan, 
Jennie Barron, Julia Brown and Ben Campbell,
March 2010
Living in a Changing World
Living in a Changing World, 2010
Getting Real About Energy
Video of Getting Real About Energy at EGU 2010
Don't Shout at the Telly North East 2009
Don't Shout at the Telly North East 2009
Flush it (10 min edit)
10 minute edit of WORLDwrite video Flush it
Darwinism without Darwinitis
Discussion following key note talk by Raymond Tallis on Darwinism without Darwinitis
Human Nature Debate
Rita Carter, Caspar Hewett, Thomas Pink and Kevin Yuill: 
The Great Human Nature Debate
Science & Human Nature
What can science tell us about human nature?
Bruce Charlton, Pauline Hadaway and Igor Aleksander
What is radical politics today? Hutton & Giddens
What is radical politics today? 
Will Hutton and Anthony Giddens
in conversation with Jonathan Pugh
Keeping Africa Small
Keeping Africa Small Debate
I'm a subsistence farmer ... Get me out of here!
I'm a Subsistence Farmer ... Get Me Out Of Here! debate
Whatever Happened to Equality?
Don't Shout at the Telly
Don't Shout at the Telly, Change What's on it!
TGD 10th Anniversary
The Great Debate 10th anniversary
Progress day school 2008
Progress of the Human Mind: From
Enlightenment to Postmodernism 
with Caspar Hewett & David Large
Christopher Badcock talk
Selfish Genes, Sex and Sanity with Christopher Badcock
Aaron Sloman talk
Information-processing in Robotics, Biology and Philosophy: 
Unnoticed Connections with Aaron Sloman
Agents of Change?
Agents of Change? Darwinian Thought and Theories of Human Nature
Flush It!
Flush it! - Worldwrite and The Great Debate at Battle of Ideas
Developing World
Challenges 2008
Developing World Challenges 2008
the great northern debate
the great north debate
Space of Democracy
The Space of Democracy and the Democracy of Space
RSA Link
RSA
Buy books from Amazon
Amazon.co.uk

Previous Events

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2018

2018 events
The Great Debate: Hands on or Hands off?
HS2: A White Elephant for the North East?


The Great Debate: Hands on or hands off?
Monday, 9th April 2018, Austria Center Vienna
European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2018
Convened by: Caspar Hewett, Jonathan Dick, Paul Quinn, Mark Wilkinson and Cristina Garcia Fernandez

In recent years there has been a growing distrust of experts in the public imagination which has been expressed in numerous debates from Brexit to the US presidential election. This gives rise to serious questions about the role of scientists in policy making and the political sphere. As geoscientists, our disciplines can have a real impact on the way humanity organises itself, so what should our role in that be? There are serious tensions here between the desire for our knowledge to have real impact and make a difference, the need for scientific detachment and objectivity, and respect for broader perspectives and for democracy itself.

The key questions for this debate are:

  • Should geoscientists restrict themselves to knowledge generation and stay out of the policy world?
  • Or should we be getting involved and making change happen?
  • Should our voices as experts be heard louder than others?
  • Or does evidence-based policy undermine democracy?
  • Should we be hands on or keep our hands off?
  • Speakers:
    Minni Jain, The Flow Partnership
    Dr Elena López Gunn, ICATALYST/University of Madrid
    Dr Paul Quinn, Newcastle University

    Chair: Caspar Hewett, Director, The Great Debate


    CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO OF DEBATE


    ice north east and The Great Debate present
    ice breaking dialogues

    HS2: A White Elephant for the North East?
    22nd February 2018
    Mining Institute
    Neville Hall
    Westgate Rd
    Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 1SE

    Will HS2 bring the increased capacity to the North East that is claimed? Will we see a better service to London? Or could this infrastructure money be better spent? Is this just another white elephant?

    ice
    Speakers:
    Jenny Cooke,Network Rail, Northumbria University
    Mark Wilson, Head of Transport, Tees Valley Combined Authority;


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    2017

    2017 events
    ice breaking dialogue - Education: Who Should Pay?
    Responding to Climate Change: Should the Experts Decide?
    ice breaking dialogue - Flooding: Who Pays?
    ice breaking dialogue - Devolution


    The Great Debate


    ice north east and The Great Debate present
    ice breaking dialogues


    Education: Who Should Pay?
    5:30pm, Thursday 12th October 2017
    Mining Institute
    Neville Hall
    Westgate Rd
    Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 1SE

    What is the right balance between publicly and privately funded university education? Some argue that society benefits from an educated population, especially in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), and that the cost of education should thus be borne by the tax-payer. Others argue that it is individuals who benefit most and that students should be expected to pay for their education. In 30 years the UK has shifted from a system in which students received maintenance grants and paid no fees to one in which students are expected to take out loans to cover maintenance and tuition fees. Which is better? How should university education be paid for? Should individuals pay for their own education? Or should the state pay? Does the current policy fail poorer students, restricting access to Higher Education? Is there a better way to pay?

    ice
    Speakers:
    Nicky Turnbull, Newcastle College;
    Mo Parkin, Ryder Architecture and PlanBEE;
    Bradley Reid, Northumbria University.

    Chair: Caspar Hewett, Director, The Great Debate


    Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and The Great Debate present
    Responding to Climate Change: Should the Experts Decide?
    Monday, 11th September 2017
    The Core, Science Central, Newcastle upon Tyne

    Public distrust of experts has become a hot topic recently, notably in the discussions surrounding Brexit and the US presidential election. This gives rise to serious questions about what part expertise should play in decision making and whether this is compatible with democracy. What does this mean for climate change policy? Some argue that, given the scientific consensus on climate change, policy should be driven by the experts. Others argue that the science of climate change is only a small part of the story when it comes to making decisions about, for example, energy policy. So, how much weight should be given to the views of climate scientists? How do we make the right decisions about our future? More ...

    Speakers
    Professor Marilyn Brown, Georgia Institute of Technology
    Dr Ruth Fuller, World Wildlife Fund
    Mo Lovatt, co-Director, The Great Debate
    Professor Sir Robert Watson, Chair, Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity Ecosystem Services

    Chair: Caspar Hewett, Director, The Great Debate


    ice north east and The Great Debate present
    ice breaking dialogues


    Caspar Hewett introducing the first Ice Breaking Dialogue


    ice breaking dialogue 2:
    Flooding: Who Pays?
    Thursday 25th May 2017
    Mining Institute, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 1SE

    Discussion about the threats, solutions and impacts of flooding to North East homes, businesses, people and infrastructure.

    Do we have to accept and live with the threat of flooding? Should we build in areas prone to flooding? How can we be protected and who is responsible for that protection? Who pays?

    ice
    Speakers:
    Prof. Louise Bracken, Durham University
    David Hirst, Ainsty Risk Consulting Ltd
    Richard Warneford, Northumbrian Water

    Chair: Caspar Hewett, Director, The Great Debate


    ice breaking dialogue 1:
    Devolution: is it all just smoke and mirrors?
    Thursday 23rd February 2017
    Mining Institute, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 1SE

    The relocation of power away from the centre has major implications for society. Will the government's devolution agenda benefit the North East? Will it enable us to secure much needed investment in our infrastructure? Should we embrace or resist it? We invite anyone interested to discuss the policy changes needed to ensure that devolution works for people, the economy and the environment of the North East.

    Speakers:
    Professor Andy Pike, Director of CURDS, Newcastle University
    Andrew Lewis, Tees Valley combined authority

    Chair: Caspar Hewett, Director, The Great Debate

    Video: short statements by speakers and chair


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    2016

    2016 events
    Humanity’s Big Challenge: Water Wars
    Plan it Earth: Is there enough resource for all?

    Humanity’s Big Challenge: Water Wars
    4pm, Sunday 23rd October 2016
    Battle of Ideas
    Barbican Centre, London

    Water, so vital for human life, covers 71% of the Earth’s surface. Yet despite huge progress in technology and modern development, water scarcity is one of the great challenges facing humanity today. Indeed, water scarcity has become an increasingly important debate - globally - in recent years, with water crises in Flint, Michigan and in California becoming just two of the most striking examples of how developed Western nations can struggle to maintain plentiful water supply. While California’s drought-hit residents are blamed for their water-guzzling swimming pools and golf courses, water poverty has begun to be a real concern. In Ireland, disputes about privatisation of the state water company and the introduction of charges led to mass refusal to pay water bills, civil disobedience and even riots, which at times threatened to topple the government. Meanwhile, whilst floods across northern England often dominate headlines, there is growing anxiety over the future of water supply in the UK, particularly in the south-east of England. Despite the increasing intensity of heavy rainfall over recent years, the Environment Agency has classed the south-east region as under ‘serious water stress’, which is compounded by population increases and changes to weather patterns.

    Why is such a fundamental utility so problematic? Some commentators suggest, in the developed world, these problems are fundamentally infrastructural, driven by inefficiencies in water management and political complacency, and argue that innovative solutions are preferable to rationing measures. Following a prolonged period of low rainfall in the UK up to 2012, water companies were preparing themselves for water-saving and management measures beyond ‘hosepipe bans’ and there are concerns that the recent wet period has only delayed confronting underlying problems rather than being seen purely as a result of weather patterns. In contrast, a dry country like Israel, for example, has overcome a profound crisis through substantial investment in desalination plants and conservation systems.

    And what of solutions? In England and Wales, up to 20 per cent of water is still lost in the damaged and decrepit underground water supply pipes; environmentalists argue for Sustainable Urban Drainage – absorbing water in green roofs, filling water butts for re-use, and attenuation systems to alleviate urban surface water flooding. This year, even China’s president, Xi Jinping, advocated that China’s cities should be water-absorbent Sponge Cities. But sometimes obvious engineering solutions face political opposition: for example, it is argued by some that the construction of an Abingdon Reservoir would solve most of London’s water problems, but this has been held up by for a decade by opposition from local people. Or perhaps we need to pay more? Once a radical proposal, earlier this year, analysts from Deloitte argued that increasing the price of water – also done in Israel – would incentivise much-needed investment in water systems and alleviate the resulting costs on energy and food production of water scarcity.

    How has water provision become a problem for even advanced globalised societies? Has a lack of investment and political will created a false problem, or will counter-crisis measures such as rationing become the norm? What happened to sea-water desalination plants? Does a focus on drought and rainfall distract us from a discussion about water as largely a man-made resource like any other, with associated costs? What innovations would help avert a coming crisis and who should pay for them?

    Click here for full details

    Speakers:
    Fiona Harvey, environment correspondent, Guardian
    Dr Caspar Hewett, Lecturer in civil engineering at Newcastle University, and Director of The Great Debate
    Cate Lamb, global director of programs, CDP; strategic advisor, UN CEO Water Mandate; board member, Alliance for Water Stewardship
    Dr Sarah McMath, programme director for Competition 2017, head of strategy, Thames Water


    The Great Debate

    Plan it Earth: Is there enough resource for all?
    19th April 2016, Austria Center Vienna

    European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2016
    Convened by: Caspar Hewett, Jonathan Dick, Paul Quinn, Mark Wilkinson and Chris Juhlin

    Discussion of natural resource depletion has been widespread for over four decades, yet there still seems to be little consensus on what to do about it. Some argue that small is beautiful and that we should all consume less. Others believe that we need to think more ambitiously and that the only limit to resources is our imagination. How do we as the geoscientists engage with these highly differing positions? Is the demand for natural resources exceeding what the Earth can produce? If so, what can we do about it? As our knowledge grows, does our ability to act and solve problems grow with it?

    If the geosciences community understands the intimate interactions between for example water, energy and food supply, a view expressed recently in terms of the water, food and energy nexus, we should be able to make a real contribution to joined-up thinking in the way that resources are managed. So, how can we ensure that our understanding influences management practices? Can we identify underlying approaches to apply to problems? Can we solve current problems without compromising the requirements of the future?

    Speakers: Günter Blöschl, Livia Peiser, Ioana Popescu and James Woudhuysen

    Full details
    CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO OF DEBATE


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    2015 events
    The thirsty 10 billion

    The thirsty 10 billion: Are we managing?
    Tuesday, 14th April, 15:30
    Austria Center Vienna

    EGU-AGU Great Debate on Global Freshwater Use
    European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2015

    Convened by: Jonathan Dick, Caspar Hewett, Paul Quinn, Mark Wilkinson, Oksana Tarasova, Efi Foufoula, Hubert H.G. Savenije

    Water security is one of the great challenges facing humanity today with more than one third of the world’s population living in water-stressed areas. Difficult questions need to be addressed about how we manage and consume water - for domestic, industrial and agricultural purposes. With the United Nations predicting a world population in excess of 10 billion by 2100 and climate change potentially further threatening people's access to potable water, are we doing what is necessary to secure our water resources? There is immense expertise and knowledge in the science and engineering communities on how to make best use of the resources we have, from better storage and infrastructure to drip irrigation, wastewater processing and efficient desalination. So, what can we do to make sure that people have the water they need? What legacy do we want future generations to inherit in terms of water security? What are we doing right and what can we do better to manage this most essential of all resources?

    Chair: Dr Caspar Hewett
    Panellists:
    Professor Tony Allan, founder, School of Oriental and African Studies / King’s College London Water Issues Group
    Dr Carole Dalin, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change & the Environment
    Professor Wilco Hazeleger, Director, The Netherlands eScience Center
    Professor Sonia Seneviratne, Institute for Atmospheric & Climate Science, ETH Zurich
    Dr Henny van Lanen, Wageningen University & Research centre

    Click here for full details
    CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO


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    2014

    2014 events
    Were things better back then? Is the gay ‘community’ now in decline?
    Debating the State of the Nation
    The Fracking Great Debate
    Geoengineering the climate: the way forward?
    Rescuing Our Brownfield Spaces
    The Wonders of Engineering

    The Great Debate

    Community Hubs Network
    and The Great Debate present
    Were things better back then?
    Is the gay ‘community’ now in decline?

    Wednesday 3rd December 2014
    The North of England Mining Institute,
    Newcastle upon Tyne

    Speakers:
    Drew Dalton
    , University of Sunderland
    Ken Mortimer, Northern Pride, Northern Proud Voices
    Chair: Dr Caspar Hewett, The Great Debate

    Come and share your views and experiences on whether or not “community” is an out-dated term for LGBT people in North East England. This is the first of a series of debates we are presenting as part of the Sal Lumsden Archive Project in association with The Great Debate.

    Contact: office@communityhubsnetwork.org


    Debating the State of the Nation
    Breakfast debate in partnership with Institution of Civil Engineers
    Tuesday, 1st July 2014
    Newcastle University

    What is the current state of the North East's infrastructure? How does it compare with the rest of the country? What should we prioritize over the next decade and the next half century? A panel of engineers introduced the current state of play based on the latest ICE State of the Nation Report, followed by an hour of discussion with the audience. More ...

    Introduced by Nick Baveystock, Director General, Institution of Civil Engineers
    Speakers:
    Laura O’Toole, Senior Engineer, Jacobs and chair of ICE NE Transport Panel
    Stephen Calvert, Carbon Reduction Officer, Stockton Borough Council
    Tom Brown, Flood & Coastal Risk Manager, CH2M Hill and chair of ICE NE Flooding Panel


    The Fracking Great Debate
    A Crowd Wise event
    Thursday, 22nd May 2014
    Newcastle University

    Should we exploit the UK's onshore shale gas, and if so under what conditions?

    Induced hydraulic fracturing (widely referred to as fracking) has been in use since the 1940s but has recently come to the fore as a means of releasing natural gas stored in shale rocks that would otherwise be inaccessible. This technology has huge potential for providing gas for energy generation, and has become increasingly attractive as gas prices have risen and the natural gas that can be easily extracted has been depleted. However, there is significant resistance to the technology due to potential environmental risks of its widespread use, such as ground water contamination and the migration of gases and chemicals to the surface.

    This event explored the question 'Should we exploit the UK's onshore shale gas, and if so under what conditions?' using the new economics foundation's Crowd Wise process: Beginning with the central question "Should we exploit the UK's onshore shale gas, and if so under what conditions?" participants (panel and audience) will be invited to work together to create and refine possible answers with a view to deciding jointly what the best solutions are. More ...

    Speakers:
    Ampea Boateng, Narec
    Jonathan Imber, Department of Earth Sciences, Durham University
    Gareth Powells, Department of Geography, Durham University
    Jeffri Ramli, Mech-Tool Engineering


    Geoengineering the climate: the way forward?
    Thursday 1st May 2014
    European Geosciences Union General Assembly, Vienna, Austria

    Convener: Caspar Hewett
    Co-Conveners: Jonathan Dick, Oksana Tarasova, Bárbara Ferreira, Mark Wilkinson and Paul Quinn

    For years geoengineering, defined by the United Kingdom’s Royal Society as “the deliberate large-scale manipulation of the planetary environment to counteract anthropogenic climate change,” was seen by many as a peripheral and slightly bizarre area of research. However, given ongoing difficulties with negotiating emission reduction targets and with 2015 fast approaching – the year when countries have to conclude a global climate agreement through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – many have started taking geoengineering seriously as a potential way to offset the negative consequences of climate change. When the recent IPCC report suggested that geoengineering the climate could be necessary to meet climate goals, it brought the controversy over the topic into the spotlight. So, how feasible is it to manipulate the Earth system for our own ends? Is it something we should be doing? Or will it do more harm than good?

    Proponents of geoengineering argue that it is an essential component to counteract climate change and that it provides a cost-effective alternative to reducing carbon emissions. Those against it argue the risks are too great and the unknowns too numerous. So what stand should geoscientists take on this? Should there be a major push for research funding for this area? Should we be going ahead with large-scale experiments? More ...

    Panellists:
    Ken Caldeira, Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution
    Krishna Kumar Kanikicharla, Coordinating Lead Author, IPCC Working Group I
    Mark Lawrence, Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, Potsdam
    Andreas Oschlies, GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel
    Paul Quinn, School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Newcastle University

    CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO


    The Great Debate in association with Institute of Hazard, Risk and Reslience,
    Durham University and Great North Festival
    as part of the ETUDE and ROBUST projects
    Rescuing Our Brownfield Spaces
    5.30pm - 8pm, Thursday, 3rd April 2014
    SALSA Café & Tapas Bar, Newcastle upon Tyne

    What do we need to do to develop brownfield sites and make the best use of them? How do we want to use them? What technologies can be applied to make them useable? Brownfield or previously developed land, is everywhere. Nearly everyone has visited or lived near an area that was once used for industrial purposes, making it unsuitable for redevelopment. Besides being an eye sore, brownfield is also known to be detrimental to the health and wellbeing of communities who live near it, but often the financial costs are too great for it to be restored and developed. As the global population rises and land for agriculture and housing increases in demand, redeveloping brownfield may hold a solution to some of these challenges, but how do we do it? Some technologies are available, while others are in the making, but how can they best be used? This event explored these questions with a panel of experts and practitioners and a general audience.

    The event used the new economics foundation's Crowd Wise process to explore the topic.

    Speakers:
    Michele Allen, artist
    Alero Arenyeka, Newcastle University
    Phil Hartley, Land Contamination Specialist, Newcastle City Council
    Karen Johnson, Durham University
    Elisa Lopez Capel, Newcastle University

    Facilitators: Perry Walker and Caspar Hewett


    The Wonders of Engineering
    Saturday, 22nd March 2014, Northumbria University

    A day of discovery, discussion and laughter

    held as part of the ETUDE project

    From the micro to mega, engineering influences every aspect of our lives today. This one-day extravaganza was an opportunity to hear about the cutting edge from fifteen engineers from around the country. Talks, discussions and exhibits all mixed with a dash of comedy took the audience through a wonder tour of engineering today, and offered the opportunity to ask questions, challenge assumptions and engage in debate. More ...

    Contributors: Eric Asare, Aidan Burton, Xiaohong Chen, Eiman ElBanhawy, Michael Hanif, Caspar Hewett, Fadi Kahwash, Emma Kennard, Bassem Mady, Siti Misti, Mahmood Mohamed, Bobo Ng, Gobind Pillai, Jeffri Ramli, Radu Sporea and Xiangdong Xue


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    2013 events
    Identity and Change
    On the Edge
    Decline and Fool: Changing Ideas in the Twenty Teens
    Waking the Dawn
    Northumbria Stories
    Media, Culture, Voice: Tackling inequality and marginalisation
    Water and wind - Can renewables deliver?
    Embracing the Future
    The Science of Humanity


    Newcastle Institute for Social Renewal, NECTER / RCE North East and The Great Debate present
    Decline and Fool: Changing Ideas in the Twenty Teens
    Saturday, 9th November 2013, Newcastle University

    Economic and Social Research Council Festival of Social Science
    Newcastle Institute for Social Renewal
    Decline and Fool was a day of active debate and documentary-making held as part of ESRC Festival of Social Science. Participants were invited to take a critical look at the declining influence of ideas that have dominated politics, philosophy and the arts since the 1990s: Environmentalism and postmodernism. The day included a documentary-making training workshop for young people, who had the opportunity to gain hands-on experience of working behind and in front of the camera. Participants filmed a series of interviews with speakers and audience members plus two debates on Environmental retreat and After the fall? which were FREE and OPEN TO ALL. Film-making training was open to under 25s. More ....


    NECTER / RCE North East and Northumbria University present
    Media, Culture, Voice:
    Tackling inequality and marginalisation

    7pm, Monday, 15th July 2013, Northumbria University

    What roles can and should media and culture play in tackling inequality and enabling the marginalised to 'speak'? Is there are a risk of 'culture' becoming social policy for the poor and leisure for the rich?
    Speakers:
    Vinod Pavarala, UNESCO Chair on Community Media, University of Hyderabad
    Tony Durcan, Newcastle Council
    Chair: Caspar Hewett


    the great northern debate
    Great North Festival
    Great North Festival Debates
    April - November 2013

    As part of our fifteenth anniversary programme The Great Debate is co-organising an eight month series of debates throughout the region in partnership with The Great North Festival and NECTER / RCE North East.


    Identity and Change
    10am-1pm, Saturday, November 30th, International Centre for Life, Newcastle

    Has this year of festivals helped the region to discover a sense of identity and new hope for the future? The leaders of the various festivals will address these questions in this year’s final debate. With Anthony Sargent, Director, the Sage Gateshead; Joyce Coleman, Organizer, British Science Festival; Nikki Black.


    On the Edge
    7:30pm, Wednesday, November 13th, The Maltings, Berwick upon Tweed

    The North East is an isolated area of England. How might the coming Scottish referendum – however the people vote - benefit the North East? With Joyce McMillan, The Scotsman, Hannah Moses, Berwick Academy, Prof Fred Robinson, Durham University


    Waking the Dawn
    7:30pm, Friday, October 18th, Murray Library, Sunderland University

    A debate in honour of two great women: the militant sufragette Emily Davison a hundred years on from her death, and the MP and organiser of the Jarrow March, Ellen Wilkinson.
    With Tamsin Omond; Julie Elliott, MP for Sunderland Central; Miranda Threlfall-Holmes, Vicar of Belmont, WATCH; Chair: Sheila Bamber, Rector of Bishopwearmouth. More ...

    Waking the Dawn video from The Great Debate on Vimeo.


    Northumbria Stories
    10am - 1pm, Saturday, September 21st, St Mary's Church, Chester-le-Street

    Discussion about the stories and ideas that speak of hope in our modern world, introduced by three speakers' stories and reflections on how they they might contribute to human flourishing.
    With Colin Kirkwood, Alan Bartlett and Shahzad Hassan. More ...


    Water and wind - Can renewables deliver?
    Wednesday, June 19th, Cragside

    Panel debate looking at a variety of ways in which energy can be obtained from water and wind and asking how much of our future energy requirements they can provide. With Cat Button, Newcastle University; Jonathan Hughes, The National Renewable Energy Centre (NaREC); Richard Murray, Northumbrian Water. More ...


    Embracing the Future
    Saturday, April 13th, The Collingwood Room, Newcastle Civic Centre

    10:00am: Visions for the Future of the North East
    The North East has a unique and remarkable past, notably as a hotbed of innovation from the Industrial Revolution to the end of the 20th Century. Today, much of the industry of the past has gone and unemployment is unacceptably high. However, there is still much to celebrate: Education in the North East is second to none, expertise is varied, new industries are being attracted to the region and our famous hospitable culture brings visitors from far and wide. So, what does the future hold for the region? How can we capitalise on our strengths? Speakers include:
    Catherine McKinnell, MP for Newcastle North
    Musa Hassan Ali, West End Refugee Service
    Chair: Caspar Hewett

    11:45am: Great North East Youth
    Given the proud history of the North East how can we ensure that the twenty first century is also marked by greatness? Young people have to play a key part the region’s future, so what does inspire young people today? Where should we be looking and what should we be doing now to ensure that the future of the region is better than the present? Speakers include:
    Paul Frew, Chair, Newcastle Student Union Debating Society
    Hannah Underwood, Chief Executive, KeyFund
    Chair: Lucy Probert

    Great North East Youth video from The Great Debate on Vimeo.


    Filming at Whatever Happened to Equality?
    great northern youth voices citizen journalism

    Running from March to October 2013 The Great Debate, in partnership with NECTER and Great North Festival, ran a free programme of documentary-making workshops for young people not in employment, education or training. The project provided opportunities for partiicpants to learn about every aspect of film-making,from camera work, sound and editing to interviewing and presenting.

    Funding for the project was was obtained by NECTER from The Big Lottery Fund's Awards for All programme and linked in with The Great Debate's great northern youth voices project, which resumes in January 2014.

    Click Here for HYPODcasts - videos produced by project participants.



    The Science of Humanity
    North East Centre for Lifelong Learning
    Wednesday evenings from 23rd January - 6th March

    Introduced by Caspar Hewett

    North East Centre for Lifelong Learning
    North East Centre for Lifelong Learning
    How successful have the natural and social sciences been at telling us about what we are? This course examined the benefits and shortfalls of applying the methods of the natural sciences to the study of humanity, through a critical look at the historical development of such theories from Darwin and Comte to the claims of evolutionary psychology, neuroscience and genetics.

    1 The view of humanity up to and including the scientific revolution
    2 The birth of the social sciences - Condorcet, Saint Simon and Comte
    3 and we were never the same again ... how Darwin placed humanity in nature once and for all and how the Social Darwinists interpreted the theory of natural selection
    4 The foundations of sociology - Marx, Durkheim and Weber
    5 The rise of the new determinism - interrogating the claims of genetics, Evolutionary Psychology and neurobiology
    6 Three humanists of the modern era - Bronowski, Malik and Tallis
    7 Conclusions - where are we now?


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    2012

    2012 events
    Whatever Happened to Equality?
    The Great Infrastructure Debate
    The Challenges of Sustainable Transport


    Filming at Whatever Happened to Equality?
    Economic and Social Research Council Festival of Social Science
    Newcastle Institute for Social Renewal
    The Great North Festival
    Whatever Happened to Equality?
    Saturday, 10th November 2012
    Newcastle University

    Funded by Economic and Social Research Council and Newcastle Institute for Social Renewal

    A day of active debate and documentary-making held as part of ESRC Festival of Social Science. The event took a critical look at how the ideal of equality has been eroded in recent times, becoming replaced by notions of equity and the celebration of difference. More ...


    The Great Infrastructure Debate

    8:00 - 10:30am, Thursday, 26th April 2012
    Devonshire Building, Newcastle University

    Part of the Sustained Engagement project funded by Royal Academy of Engineering.

    In association with the Institution of Civil Engineers
    Is the North East's Infrastructure fit for purpose? What infrastructure do we need for the region to develop to its potential over the next thirty years? A group of engineers presented their answers to these questions and discussed and adapted their proposals in collaboration with the audience. The event used the Crowd Wise process to seek a consensus with all participants having a say. Click here for full details, outcomes, discussion and video.


    The Challenges of Sustainable Transport

    Wednesday, 14th March 2012
    Newcastle Business School & School of Law Building
    Northumbria University

    Part of the Sustained Engagement project funded by Royal Academy of Engineering.

    What should we prioritise to manage personal mobility effectively in Tyne and Wear over the next twenty years? A group of engineers presented their answers to this question and discussed and adapted their proposals in collaboration with the audience. The event used the Crowd Wise process to seek a consensus with all participants having a say. Click here for full details.

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    2011

    2011 events
    The Future of Energy for the North East
    Sylvia Pankhurst: Everything is Possible
    Newcastle University Year of Sustainability school debate competition
    The Great Debate: Facing the Future
    Visions for the Future of the City
    Basic Sanitation (Saneamento Básico, o filme)


    The Future of Energy for the North East
    Monday 12th December 2011
    Room 1.11, Drummond Building, Newcastle University

    Part of the Sustained Engagement project funded by Royal Academy of Engineering.

    How will the North East of England meet its energy needs in 30 years time?

    What mix of energy sources should we be aiming to use in thirty years? Should the region be a net exporter of energy? Should we shift to community generation? Reduce our reliance on imported energy? Phase out nuclear and/or gas powered electricity generation? Reduce demand through dynamic pricing? Which renewable technologies should get the most investment? A group of engineers presented their thoughts on these questions, discussed and adapted their ideas with a public audience using new economics foundation's Crowd Wise method. More ...


    Sylvia Pankhurst: Everything is Possible
    7:30pm, Thursday 1st December 2011
    Star and Shadow cinema

    Sylvia Pankhurst
    Film screening followed by discussion with the film-makers. In feature length essay form, Sylvia Pankhurst: Everything is Possible traces the ideas, campaigns and political life of the suffragette and revolutionary Sylvia Pankhurst. The film is packed with facts from primary sources, rare images from museums and archives, interviews with historians and compelling testimony from Sylvia’s son Richard Pankhurst and his wife Rita. More ...
    Tickets £5 / £3.50 concessions / £2 for school students


    Newcastle University Year of Sustainability school debate competition
    Monday 14th November 2011

    The Great Debate was delighted to host a one-day debating competition for schools hosted by Newcastle University. Four schools battled it out in front of expert judges for the title of The Great Debate Champion School 2011. The event was part of a series of activities taking place throughout 2011 to celebrate Newcastle University's world-leading work on sustainability (see Newcastle Institute for Research on Sustainability) and was organised in collaboration with RCE North East. More ...

    Newcastle University
    Newcastle Institute for Research on Sustainability

    ESRC Festival of Social Science
    The Great Debate: Facing the Future
    Saturday 5th November 2011
    Devonshire Building (map), Newcastle University

    FREE day of argument and documentary-making. The day includes active debates open to all on population and the limits to social and technical engineering and a film-training workshop for young people. Speakers include Ian Abley, architect and director of audacity; Barry K Gills, Professor of Global Politics, Newcastle University; Patrick Hayes, political commentator, Spiked Online; Sandy Irvine, Chair, Newcastle Green Party; Roger Martin, Chair, Population Matters; and Ludi Simpson, Professor of Population Studies, Cathie Marsh Centre for Census and Survey Research (CCSR). More ...


    Visions for the Future of the City
    Saturday 22nd October 2011
    Newcastle University

    What should Newcastle upon Tyne look like in 2050?

    The Byker wall viewed from Byker Bridge
    Visions for the Future of the City, October 2011
    Videos (click here)
    Newcastle has changed beyond all recognition over the last 40 years and is still changing fast. In 2010 Forum for the Future ranked Newcastle as the most sustainable of the UK's twenty largest cities for the second year running (see Sustainable Cities Index). Is this an accolade we should attempt to retain? What can we do to ensure that Newcastle is better in 2050 than it is today? Come along and join in the discussion! With Special Guest Chi Onwurah, MP for Newcastle Central. More ...


    Basic Sanitation (Saneamento Basico)
    Basic Sanitation (Saneamento Básico, o filme)

    7.30pm, Wednesday, 6th July
    Star and Shadow Cinema
    Stepney Bank, Newcastle Upon Tyne
    Tickets £5 /£3.50

    Celebrated Brazilian director Jorge Furtado turns his innovative filmmaking approach to the story of a town who need to build a new sewer. Whilst there is no state money for a new drain there is funding available to make an educational film. A young couple do some creative budgeting, planning to have enough money to make a low-budget film and a new sewer. Superbly acted, this is an upbeat and comic look at social activism and how government funding, or lack of it, can shape communities.

    Starring Fernanda Torres, Wagner Moura, Camila Pitanga, Bruno Garcia, Lázaro Ramos, Tonico Pereira and Paulo José.
    RCE North East

    Brazil 2007 Dir. Jorge Furtado
    Certificate BBFC 12A. Length: 112 min.
    In Portuguese with English subtitles

    Showing as part of RCE North East 2011 programme of events in partnership with Newcastle University and Newcastle Institute for Research on Sustainability.

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    2010

    2010 events
    Head to Head: Economic Growth: Bane or Boon?
    The Great Debate Green Phoenix festival programme
    The Great Debate @ Cheltenham Science Festival
    Getting Real About Energy
    Getting Real About Climate Change
    The Great Debate: Humans in a Changing Climate
    The Climate e-mail Row: What does it tell us about science?
    It's the end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine): Why environmentalism has failed and what comes next
    Children and Cities

    The Great Debate Head to Head
    with Jonathon Porritt and Daniel Ben-Ami

    Economic Growth: Bane or Boon?
    7pm, Tuesday, 19 October 2010
    Gallery North, University of Northumbria

    (Gallery North is located in Squires Building directly opposite the Sandyford Road entrance to Newcastle Civic Centre)

    Is economic growth a good thing? Until the 1970s few would have even thought of asking this question. Yet today the West is often seen as guilty of overconsumption, while the rapid growth of developing countries such as China and India is seen by many in a highly negative light. People who champion growth are accused of encouraging greed, damaging the environment and widening social inequalities. Daniel Ben-Ami, in his new book Ferraris for all, challenges these notions, arguing that society as a whole benefits from greater affluence and that we should celebrate growth. Renowned environmentalist and writer Jonathon Porritt disagrees and took up the arguments ... View Video
    Chair: Caspar Hewett, Director, The Great Debate


    The Great Debate Green Phoenix festival programme
    Devonshire Building, Newcastle University
    20 - 22 August 2010

    Green Phoenix Festival
    The Great Debate and RCE North East presented a packed weekend of talks and discussion with activists, writers, academics and practitioners exploring a broad range of topics related to four themes: Securing our Future, Sustainable Culture, Being Human in the 21st Century and Pushing Limits including debates on:

    What is Sustainable Culture?;
    Are we masters of our own destiny?;
    The Borders of Reality;
    Food and Water Security;
    Limits to Growth in 21st Century;
    Energising Innovation;
    Limits to Freedom;
    The Legacy of Multiculturalism;
    Limits to Imagination;                                 Full details


    Cheltenham Science Festival

    Carbon Trading
    12:15 - 1:15pm, Thursday 10 June 2010
    Could carbon trading be the solution for cutting emissions? The idea is that a cap on total emissions is set and reduced each year. High polluters must either reduce emissions or buy credits from low-carbon businesses, which use the extra income to make their greener technology more financially viable. But how can we reliably measure emissions and can it really work? Caspar Hewett discusses the issues with Mark Maslin, Director of the UCL Environment Institute, and Tony Grayling from the Environment Agency.

    Global Water Security
    4 - 5pm, Thursday 10 June 2010
    Water security is one of the biggest challenges facing humanity. More than one third of the world’s population now lives in water-stressed areas, and in the fight for this precious commodity, regional ‘water wars’ are threatening stability. Engineer Roger Falconer, geographer Richard Taylor and governance specialist Sue Cavill discuss with Caspar Hewett, Director of The Great Debate, how the planet’s plentiful supply of water can be fairly distributed.

    2030: Engineering Our Climate
    6 - 7.15pm, Thursday 10th June
    Imagine it is 2030. Regrettably, global carbon emissions targets have been missed and geoengineering techniques – to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or to block the Sun’s energy – may be the only option to prevent global temperatures from rising. Can you decide the way forward? Caspar Hewett guides you through the expert advice from engineer Stephen Salter, biogeochemist Richard Lampitt, and Professor of International Law Catherine Redgwell.

    Members book group: Robert Winston
    4 - 5pm, Friday 11 June 2010
    Exclusive event for Cheltenham Festival members. Share your views in a discussion of Bad Ideas?, exploring its themes of human creative endeavour and uninentional consequences, with the author Robert Winston. Facilitated by The Great Debate director, Caspar Hewett.



    The Great Debate@EGU
    Getting Real About Energy
    in association with RCE North East
    European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2010
    3:30pm, Thursday 6th May 2010
    Vienna, Austria

    Convened by Caspar Hewett, Paul Quinn and Mark Wilkinson

    Video of Getting Real About Energy at EGU 2010
    In the context of climate change the discussion of energy provision is focused increasingly on renewables, but how realistic a proposition is it for renewables to provide the energy we need? Nuclear is touted by many as an alternative, yet the problem of waste is far from being solved. So when and how are we to come up with a rational energy policy for the next fifty years? What are the real issues and how do we overcome the barriers we face today?
    Chair: Dr Paul Quinn, Newcastle University
    Speakers:
    Dermot Roddy
    , Science City Professor of Energy, Newcastle upon Tyne, Director, Sir Joseph Swan Institute for Energy Research;
    Hervé Coutrix, Vice President Geosciences Structural and Sedimentological studies, TOTAL;
    Niel Bowerman, co-founder and former Executive Director, Climatico, co-founder, The Climate Justice Project

    Video of proceedings


    The Great Debate and North East Centre for Lifelong Learning present
    The Great Debate: Humans in a Changing Climate
    Getting Real About Climate Change
    in association with RCE North East
    Saturday, 20th March 2010, Newcastle University
    Funded by
    Economic and Social Research Council

    ESRC Festival of Social Science
    One day workshop on the theme of how humanity should respond to climate change. This exciting day included active debates open to all and a video-making workshop for young people with a thirst for cutting edge documentaries. Getting Real About Climate Change encouraged participants to take a critical look at the current discussions surrounding the feasibility of geoengineering, the effects climate change on food and water security and energy generation, and contribute to a video of the day's proceedings. Our young participants had the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in film-making, working both behind and in front of the camera. More ...
    Speakers included Tony Allan, Stockholm Water Prize Laureate 2008, founder of London University's Water Issues Group; Greg Bankoff, environmental historian, University of Hull, Jennie Barron, research fellow in water management at Stockholm Environment Institute; Julia Brown, lecturer in Environmental Policy, Planning and Management, University of Portsmouth; Ben Campbell, social anthropologist, Durham University; Steve Caseley, Director of Distributed Energy, New and Renewable Energy Centre; Tim Foxon, academic research fellow at Sustainability Research Institute, Leeds; Joanna Haigh, professor of atmospheric physics, Imperial College, contributor to the recent Royal Society report, Geoengineering the climate; Phil Macnaghten, founding Director of Institute of Hazard and Risk Research, Durham University; Rob Williams, Renewables Projects Director, Banks Developments.

    Full details


    The Great Debate: Humans in a Changing Climate
    in association with North East Centre for Lifelong Learning
    Five Thursdays from 4th February 2010
    Part of the Explore programme

    the great north debate
    NECLL Explore
    The world we live in today is one that is rapidly changing. A major element of this is the almost universally accepted global increase in temperature. How reliable is our understanding of the future climate if we are to plan for the future? This short discussion-based course will look at the history of climate modelling, ask what we can and cannot deduce from current models and reflect on what that means for people today and in the future. The issues raised by climate change will be examined through discussions on water resources, food and energy production. The ramifications of the recent interest in geoengineering – controlling the climate through intentional manipulation - will be explored. The programme will consist of five sessions each with an introduction followed by discussion.
    Week 1 (4 Feb): Introduction by Dr Caspar Hewett. How the media treat climate change issues. How can we read between the lines?
    Week 2 (11 Feb): Dr Stephen Blenkinsop, Newcastle University, tells us about what climate change can and cannot tell us.
    Week 3 (18 Feb): Dr Richard Dawson, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, talks about the challenges of adapting cities to address a changing climate.
    Week 4 (25 Feb): Dr Annie Borland, Moorbank Botanical Garden, on what the biological sciences can do for us.
    Week 5 (4 March): Review with Caspar Hewett


    The Climate e-mail Row: What does it tell us about science?
    12:30, Wednesday 24 February
    Newcastle Arts Centre
    Westgate Road

    NECLL Explore
    Controversy and recriminations surround the ‘hacking’ of emails relating to climate change research. But what the does the political and public reaction tell us about our society thinks science does and ought to work? Introduced by Caspar Hewett. Part of the Explore programme Lunchtime Perspectives: Behind the News series


    'It's the end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine): Why environmentalism has failed and what comes next.'
    Paul Kingsnorth
    5.30pm, 22nd February 2010
    Beehive, Room 2.21. Newcastle University.

    Paul Kingsnorth, author, One No, Many Yeses, Real England, has been a peace observer in Mexico, a floor-sweeper in McDonalds and a history student at Oxford University. He was arrested during the Twyford Down road protests in the 1990s and was named one of Britain's 'top ten troublemakers' by New Statesman in 2001. He has worked on the comment desk of The Independent, as commissioning editor for opendemocracy.net and as deputy editor of The Ecologist. He is also an award-winning poet, and an honorary member of the Lani tribe of New Guinea.

    The Space of Democracy and the Democracy of Space
    At this seminar Paul presented a version of his contribution to the book What is Radical Politics Today? edited by Jonathan Pugh of Newcastle University, and published in November 2009 by Palgrave-Macmillan.

    This event is linked to the Space of Democracy and the Democracy of Space network.

    For further information e-mail Jonathan Pugh


    Children and Cities
    Ken Worpole
    5.30pm, 1st February 2010
    Beehive, Room 2.21. Newcastle University.

    What is Radical Politics Today?
    After the Second World War, architects, planners and politicians across Europe privileged the role of the child in the city. Yet today one or more children on the street is considered a social problem in the making. How did we get to this impasse and how can we get out of it?

    At this seminar Ken Worpole was presenting a version of his contribution to the book What is Radical Politics Today? edited by Jonathan Pugh of Newcastle University, and published in November 2009 by Palgrave-Macmillan.

    The Space of Democracy and the Democracy of Space
    This event is linked to the Space of Democracy and the Democracy of Space network.

    For further information contact Jonathan Pugh

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    2009

    Water, Water Everywhere? June 5th
    Don’t Shout at the Telly, Change What's on it!, March 14th
    The “Credit Crunch”: Consequences for UK Households, March 11th


    Water, Water Everywhere?
    6:30 pm, Friday 5th June 2009
    Cheltenham Town Hall
    Part of
    Cheltenham Science Festival

    Some argue there is no excuse for water shortages in a water-rich nation like Britain, and that we should build ambitious new infrastructures such as a ‘national grid’ for water. Others think we should be curbing demand to minimise our impact on the environment. Water engineer and chair of The Great Debate, Caspar Hewett and Bruce Horton, environmental adviser for Water UK, join Trevor Bishop from the Environment Agency and Jonathon Porritt to discuss the future of hydrating the nation.


    The Great Debate and WORLDwrite
    present
    Don’t Shout at the Telly, Change What's on it!
    Saturday, 14 March 2009
    Newcastle University

    Newcastle University
    ESRC Festival of Social Science
    One day workshop organised by The Great Debate and WORLDwrite focussing on documentary making, the role of the media, and environmental issues. This exciting day will engage with topics through film showings, discussion and a news-making workshop: Thought provoking debates will interrogate inconvenient untruths about climate change, explore the influence of the media, and examine activism in the noughties.
    With:
    Hilaire Agnama, Teesside One World Centre
    Paul Chatterton, Leeds University
    Ceri Dingle - Director of WORLDwrite and Chew on it Productions
    Caspar Hewett, environmental consultant, Chair of The Great Debate
    Alex Lockwood, Sunderland University
    Kate Manzo, Newcastle University
    Alison Neilson, author Disrupting Privilige, Identity, and Meaning: A Reflective Dance of Environmental Education
    Viv Regan, Assistant Director, Producer, WORLDwrite
    Nathalie Rothschild, commissioning editor, spiked-online

    Click here for full details

    Part of The Great Debate schools programme


    The “Credit Crunch”: Consequences for UK Households
    Wednesday, 11 March, 7-9 pm
    Council Chambers,

    Newcastle City Council,
    Civic Centre, Barras Bridge, NE99 2BN

    ESRC Festival of Social Science
    ESRC Festival of Social Science
    The ‘credit crunch’ is already having material effects on households that will deepen in the coming months. Households are experiencing a reassessment of their creditworthiness that impacts on their capacity to access consumer credit at affordable rates of interest. Limitations on the availability of particular mortgage products and risk-adverse lending standards, combined with falling house prices, also create challenges for existing home-owners and would-be first-time buyers. Thus, in policy terms, new patterns of financial exclusion and the sustainability of home-ownership are crucial issues coming to the fore. Members of the public are invited to attend, raise questions and contribute to the debate.

    Chaired by Dr Paul Langley, Northumbria University, this event will feature a series of short contributions from recognized experts in the field: Professor Susan Smith, Durham University; Professor Mark Stephens, University of Glasgow; and Dr Lavinia Mitton, University of Kent.

    For further details please visit The “Credit Crunch” debate.
    Event convened by Oliver Moss.

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    2011   2012   2013   2014   2015   2016   2017   2018  

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    2008

    The Great Debate 10th Anniversary 2008

    Authority, Respect & Human Potential
    Developing World Challenges
    Progress of the Human Mind: From Enlightenment to Postmodernism
    Sustainable Energy Debate
    Selfish Genes, Sex, and Sanity
    Information-processing in Robotics, Biology and Philosophy
    Darwinian Thought and Theories of Human Nature
    The Great Debate @ Battle of Ideas
    What is radical politics today?


    The Great Debate: What is radical politics today?
    12.30-1.30pm, Friday, 5th December 2008
    Fine Art Lecture Theatre, Newcastle University

    Newcastle University Part of the Newcastle University
    public lecture series

    Convened by
    Jonathan Pugh

    Speakers:
    Will Hutton, Chief Executive of The Work Foundation
    Professor Lord Giddens, Member of the House of Lords

    What is the nature of radical politics today?
    How should we describe its character?
    What is thought of as radical politics at this moment?
    What is not? Why?

    The Space of Democracy and the Democracy of Space
    This debate is part of the What is radical politics today? project. The project explores the nature and character of radical politics today, examines what it means to be engaged in radical politics and explores how radical politics works to shape and frame what we think of ourselves, issues and debates. Initiated and directed by Jonathan Pugh, and including fifty of the worlds leading commentators, the ongoing project is aiming to develop a sense and feeling about the present nature and character of radical politics. Click here for further details.

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    Flush it!
    A film première hosted by
    WORLDwrite and The Great Debate

    Royal College of Art, London
    2nd November 2008

    Flush it!
    Flush it! is a documentary aiming to put aspirations for Western levels of water provision and sanitation on the map for developing countries. The film interweaves concerns about local water shortages, global water scarcity and toilet history with aspirations for grand projects and excellent loos. Eritrean refugee Tiba is at the centre of the film. Pontificating from her own bath full of bubbles Tiba considers everything from depleted aquifers to desalination to Livingstone’s plea not to flush. Tiba’s wet dream informs us pit latrines stink, while experts help flush the crap and remind us that water can never run out.

    Caspar Hewett Viv Regan
    The documentary includes witness testimony from Dr Caspar Hewett, researcher in water resources; James Woudhuysen, Professor of Forecasting and Innovation at De Montfort University; Angela Lee, Exhibition Curator, Gladstone Toilet Museum; Terry Woolliscroft, Customer Manager, Twyford Bathrooms; James Heartfield, writer and lecturer; Robin Oakley, Senior Climate Campaigner, Greenpeace UK; Tony Rachwal, Thames Water Research & Development Director

    The film’s première was followed by a question and answer session with Dr Caspar Hewett, Chair of The Great Debate and Viv Regan, the film’s producer.

    Click here for full details of this session and the Battle of Ideas 2008
    Click here for Flush it! website

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    Agents of Change? Darwinian Thought and Theories of Human Nature Revisited
    Sponsored by
    School of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Northumbria
    and
    Edinburgh University Press

    Northumbria University Edinburgh University Press

    9am – 4pm, Saturday, 25th October 2008

    Newcastle Business School
    University of Northumbria at Newcastle

    Darwinism or Darwinitis?
    Key note speech by
    Raymond Tallis author The Hand: A Philosophical Enquiry into Human Being
    Chair: David O'Toole, The Great Debate
    Darwinism without Darwinitis: text of talk with slides

    The Great Human Nature Debate
    For centuries philosophers and scientists have been trying to define what constitutes human nature, yet this area of knowledge remains highly contested. Some think that agency, the capacity to make choices and moral judgements, and to act on them, lies at the heart of being human. For others it is our consciousness of our selves that is the defining factor. Others still claim that free will, agency and consciousness are illusions that are accidents of brain function. So, is there a universal human nature? If so, what do we all have in common? What makes us different from animals? Do the defining factors even exist?
    Speakers:
    Rita Carter, author Mapping the Mind, Conciousness
    Caspar Hewett, Director, The Great Debate
    Thomas Pink, author The Psychology of Freedom, Free Will: A Very Short Introduction
    Chair: Kevin Yuill, Sunderland University

    What can science tell us about human nature?
    Bruce Charlton, Pauline Hadaway and Igor Aleksander:
Click on photo to view video of debate
    Modern developments in areas such as neuroscience, artificial intelligence and evolutionary psychology have resulted in new ways of thinking about human nature. Can we explain the mind and consciousness in terms of brain function? Can we understand modern human behaviour in terms of our evolutionary heritage? Is science even the right place to start if we want to understand human nature?
    Speakers:
    Igor Aleksander, author The World in My Mind, How to Build a Mind
    Bruce Charlton, author Psychiatry and the Human Condition
    Kenan Malik, author Man, Beast and Zombie
    Chair: Pauline Hadaway, Director, Belfast Exposed

    Come along, hear the arguments and have your say

    Click here for full details

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    Information-processing in Robotics, Biology and Philosophy: Unnoticed Connections
    Sponsored by
    School of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Northumbria

    7 – 8.30pm, Tuesday, 21st October 2008

    Lecture Theatre CCE1 002
    Newcastle Business School
    University of Northumbria at Newcastle

    What can biologists, roboticists and philosophers learn from one another?

    Northumbria University
    What can computer science tell us about what biological systems do and how they do it? Is it possible to replicate or model those chemical information-processing functions in digital electronic computing systems? What are the implications of recent developments in computer science and software engineering in understanding the nature of causality?
    Aaron Sloman, author of Computer Revolution in Philosophy: Philosophy, Science and Models of Mind delves into the world of connections between ideas developed in computer science, biology and philosophy, providing new insights into some fundamental questions about the nature of consciousness and free will.

    Come along, hear the arguments and have your say

    Speaker: Aaron Sloman, University of Birmingham
    Chair: Aidan Burton, Newcastle University
    Click here for full details

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    Selfish Genes, Sex, and Sanity
    Sponsored by
    School of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Northumbria

    7 – 8.30pm, Tuesday, 14th October 2008

    Room CCE1 402 (4th Floor)
    Newcastle Business School
    University of Northumbria at Newcastle

    What are the connections between mental illness and genetics?

    Northumbria University
    Mental illnesses like autism and schizophrenia appear to have many different causes, some of which are environmental and some seemingly genetic. In this talk
    Christopher Badcock outlines a new theory that seeks to explain many of the facts in relation to conflict between genes expressed from each parent's copy: so-called genomic imprinting. Not only does this reveal the strange genetics involved in these illnesses and the way environmental factors can mimic them, the new theory also casts a revealing new light on what we take to be normality and has far-reaching implications for our understanding of human nature. Speaker: Christopher Badcock, LSE

    Related links:
    Selfish genes, sex, and sanity: Christopher Badcock outlines a new theory that resolves some long-standing contradictions in explaining mental illness.
    Selfish genes, sex, and sanity: Slides from talk on 14 October 2008

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    The Great Sustainable Energy Debate 2008
    in association with
    North East Forum for Climate Change Research (NEFCC)
    7.30pm, Tuesday, 7th October 2008

    Lecture Theatre CCE1-401 (TLT)
    Newcastle Business School
    University of Northumbria at Newcastle

    Featuring:
    Jim Skea, Research Director, UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC)
    Dermot Roddy, Sir Joseph Swan Institute for Energy Research
    Kate Theobald, Sustainable Cities Research Institute

    Chair: Professor Bob Evans

    part of
    the great north debate
    project
    Dermot Roddy
    In the context of both mounting anxiety over climate change and predictions that the worldwide peak of hydrocarbon production will occur before 2021, the North East is striving to become a global leader in the shift to a low-carbon energy economy. Such transitions typically span decades - energy infrastructure takes years to develop and new energy technologies are likely to take time to mature. So, what are the prospects of seeing a widespread transition to a sustainable energy economy? What are the barriers? What will be the main drivers of change? How might the UK’s energy mix evolve over the next 40 years? And what of demand management? What obligations do we have as citizen-consumers?

    The Great Sustainable Energy Debate 2008 proceedings by Caspar Hewett

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    Northumbria University
    The Complexity and Change Network in association with The Great Debate and Newcastle Philosophy Society present

    Progress of the Human Mind: From Enlightenment to Postmodernism
    9am – 4.30pm, Saturday, 27th September 2008
    University of Northumbria at Newcastle

    David Large Caspar Hewett One day workshop examining the changing nature of society’s understanding of the meaning of ‘progress’ and how it relates to the way that humanity is perceived today. Thinkers discussed included Condorcet, Kant, Saint-Simon, Auguste Comte and Michel Foucault. Click here for further details. Introduced by Caspar Hewett and David Large.

    Notes

    Sketch of Condorcet's Sketch by Caspar Hewett
    Henri de Saint-Simon: The Great Synthesist by Caspar Hewett
    Auguste Comte – High Priest of Positivism by Caspar Hewett
    Prenotes by David Large
    Summary and conclusions by Caspar Hewett

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    Developing World Challenges
    9am - 4pm, Saturday, 15 March 2008
    Lindisfarne Room, King's Road Centre, Newcastle University
    part of the
    North East Education for Sustainable Development Initiative

    Funded by
    Economic and Social Research Council and Newcastle University

    ESRC Festival of Social Science
    Newcastle University
    One day workshop organised by The Great Debate and WORLDwrite. The workshop focused on two new documentaries: I'm A Subsistence Farmer... Get Me Out Of Here! and Keeping Africa Small.
    Speakers
    Ceri Dingle, Director of WORLDwrite and Chew on it Productions
    Viv Regan, Producer, WORLDwrite and Chew on it Productions
    Kim Tan, Campaigns Officer for Oxfam UK
    Barry K.Gills, Professor of Global Politics, Newcastle University
    John Gowing, Reader in Agricultural Water Management, Newcastle University
    Bill Colwell, Atlantic Pictures
    Hilaire Agnama, Development Education Worker

    Click Here for full details

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    Authority, Respect and Human Potential in the 21st Century
    7:00 - 8:30pm, Monday, 21st January 2008
    Devonshire Building, Newcastle University

    The Great Debate opened its 10th Anniversary celebration with a discussion exploring the themes of authority and human potential, examining how they are linked to the erosion of respect in modern society.

    What is meant by authority, respect and human potential today? Since the Enlightenment the idea of the subject has had a central place in the way that we think about ourselves. This understanding of what it is to be human rests on the idea that we are active agents who do things for reasons and shape the world to our own ends. Yet in recent years this view of human nature has become deeply unpopular and we are encouraged to think of ourselves as objects at the mercy of outside forces. At the same time something else seems to be contributing to this historical moment; something that has been left unexplored by many thinkers. This is the erosion of respect for authority, reflected in modern cynicism about politics and a deep distrust of experts. How closely connected are these changes and how are we to understand them?

    Introduced by Dr Caspar Hewett

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    Debating Matters Competition Debating Matters Competition

    The Great Debate continues to support the acclaimed debating competition for sixth form students

    As part of The Great Debate schools programme we hope to involve more students in the region in public debate through our continued support of the Institute of Ideas' and Pfizer's Debating Matters Competition. Following its highly successful pilot year, the competition launched in the North East in 2005 and has continued to grow, attracting more and more schools in the region. This year's regional heats saw Durham Johnstone Comprehensive School (Durham), Ryton Comprehensive School (Ryton), St. Mary's Sixth Form College (Newcastle) and Whickham School (Whickham) make it through to the North East regional final which took place at Newcastle University on Monday 28 April 2008.

    Debating Matters demands more than rhetoric or rant from the sixth form students who take part. Young people are encouraged to research issues thoroughly and become more confident and sophisticated in articulating their views by standing up to a probing intellectual examination. This is all part of the competition's philosophy of privileging reasoned participation over rhetorical posturing. Debate topics engage with contentious contemporary issues and uniquely involve a critical examination of debater's arguments by celebrity judges drawn from the fields of academia, the media and business.

    The Great Debate's Caspar Hewett, Dave O'Toole, Jon Pugh and Mo Lovatt have been judges in the competition.

    Click here for further details about the competition


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    ESRC Festival of Social Science

    The Great Land Use Debate
    7 - 14 March 2008

    The following on line debate may be of interest to vistors to The Great Debate web site: RELU Great Land Use Debate

    ESRC Festival of Social Science
    What is our rural land for and what do we expect from it? Should farmers be diversifying into energy crops or concentrating on feeding the nation? And is it reasonable to expect them to be competitive food businesses as well as managers and guardians of wildlife and landscapes? When floods overwhelm urban areas should that just be a problem for the individuals and businesses affected? Or should country dwellers be prepared to sacrifice rural land for flood storage?

    Everyone seems to want something different, but can rural land fulfil all of these expectations? What is our long term vision for land use in the UK and do we need an extension of the planning system from town into countryside in order to realise it?

    The UK research councils’ Rural Economy and Land Use Programme invited contributions to a unique on-line debate during National Science and Engineering Week/Festival of Social Science 2008. The Programme’s land use policy analysts will be posed some key questions to draw in opinion from a wide range of contributors, see the RELU website.

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    2007

    The Great Debate: The New Politics of Climate Change
    The Space of Democracy and the Democracy of Space
    Part of The Space of Democracy and the Democracy of Space programme
    Monday 25th June, 5.30pm
    Bedson Teaching Centre, Newcastle University
    Hosted by Dr Jonathan Pugh
    Chair: Prof Phil Powrie, Dean of Research for the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Newcastle University
    Speakers:
    Prof Steve Rayner, Director of the James Martin Institute (University of Oxford); Director of the ESRC's ~£5m Science in Society Programme; Member of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, the Oxford Commission on Sustainable Consumption and a lead author on the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
    Dr Joe Smith, School of Social Sciences (Open University); Director of the ESRC/NERC/BBC/NEF-sponsored Interdependence Day project
    Phil Macnaghten Prof Phil Macnaghten, Department of Geography (Durham University); Director of the Institute of Hazard and Risk Research (IHRR); Honorary Professor in the Institute for Advanced Studies at Lancaster University; Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and Senior Associate of Demos
    Prof Jim Hall, Professor of Earth Systems Engineering, Newcastle University, advisor to the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, contributing author to Assessment Reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.


    All Planned Out: The Worldwide Impact of the British Town and Country Planning System
    The Building Centre, 26 Store Street, London WC1E 7BT
    18-19 May 2007
    Caspar Hewett chaired debates on Who is the town and the countryside for? and Where to for planning? and Jon Pugh chaired the debate on Finding the public in the British planning process at All Planned Out conference in London


    The 3rd Workshop on Development, Sustainability and Environment
    Funded by Economic and Social Research Council and Newcastle Science Festival
    Saturday, 17th March 2007, 9am-4pm
    Newcastle University

    At the opening of the 21st century concern for the environment influences policy throughout the world. Any discussion about resources is infused with the language of sustainability. What does this mean for the developed and developing worlds? Is our current pattern of water use sustainable? How are we going to generate sufficient electricity for our future needs? Is the sort of technology we take for granted in the West appropriate for the developing world?
    Combining a workshop on Film training with a global edge, documentary footage from Africa and a series of discussions this one day workshop examined a series of issues related to Development, Sustainability and Environment through debates on three key themes:

  • Water Resources and the Future with Caspar Hewett, Dr Hayley Fowler, Ray Heslop
  • Energy Generation in the new millenium with Steven Harrison and Mark Wilkinson
  • Thinking Big: Film Premiere and key note debate with Daniel Ben Ami, Ceri Dingle and Michael Savage
  • Click Here for Proceedings of DSE3
    Attendees included; Andrea Blatter


    Bigging it up: The Great Megastructures Debate
    Part of Newcastle Science Festival 2007

    Thursday 15 March 2007
    Discovery Museum, Newcastle upon Tyne

    Public debate on what sort of structures we want to create in the 21st century.

    Speakers
    Ian Abley, project manager, audacity
    John Thackara, design producer, Director of Doors of Perception
    Dr Sean Wilkinson, Structural Engineer, Newcastle University

    Proceedings of The Great Megastructures Debate

    Reaching for the Sky review by Laura-Jay Turnbull


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    2006

    Atlantic Books The Great Debate: Reprogramming Life
    sponsored by Atlantic Books
    Wednesday 6th December 2006
    Institute for Research on Environment and Sustainability
    Devonshire Building
    Newcastle University
    Location Map

    Chair Caspar Hewett

    What does it mean to reprogram the logic of life?
    What are the implications of engineering nature's circuits?

    Genesis Machines: The New Science of Biocomputation The stuff of science fiction is now with us. In 1994, after forty years of promises, scientists announced the coming of the world's first molecular computer. Since then millions have been invested in molecular computing and synthetic biology research. DNA, the code of life, now sits at the heart of experimental computers in labs around the world. Hybrid machines integrate living cells with silicon nanotubes and preparations are being made to create entirely new organisms, never seen before.
    How can humanity benefit from this revolutionary new technology? What are the dangers? What are the ethical implications?

    Speakers:
    Martyn Amos, author Genesis Machines: The New Science of Biocomputing
    Professor John Burn, Institute of Human Genetics

    Click here to print details of this event


    To Build or Not to Build? The Great Housing Debate
    sponsored by



    7pm, Thursday 30th November 2006
    Institute for Research on Environment and Sustainability
    Newcastle University

    Caspar Hewett introduces the panel at The Great Housing Debate Chair Caspar Hewett
    There is a crisis in housing in the UK. Demand for housing far outstrips availability, fuelling ever increasing house prices. So where are we to go from here? What are the barriers to providing housing for all at the beginning of the 21st century? James Heartfield, author of Let’s Build, thinks it is time we committed to a huge building programme over the next decade, rejecting the scare stories about the environment, about suburbia and about social cohesion. How realistic is this? Come along, hear the arguments and have your say.

    Speakers:
    James Heartfield, author Let's Build: Why We Need Five Million New Homes in the Next Ten Years
    Dr Zan Gunn, Lecturer in Town Planning, Newcastle University
    Dominic Coupe, Campaign to Protect Rural England

    Click here for proceedings


    The Great Debate: Post-Territorial Governance and Anti-politics
    Convened by Jon Pugh and Caspar Hewett
    Friday 19th May 2006
    Newcastle University
    Devonshire Building, G21/22

    Chair:
    Jon Pugh
    The Space of Democracy and the Democracy of Space
    Bringing together leading academics from London, Newcastle and Lancaster, this debate will explore the nature of post-territorial governance in the modern era. Particular attention will be given to what have become known as ‘anti-political’ movements – those movements which are not accountable to territorial states; those movements which seek political influence through reference to global ethical principles, rather than through the accountability of mass party politics. What do such movements tell us about the nature of the political in the modern era? Are they a positive or negative development? And how are they reflective of what is being called a ‘de-territorialised’ era?

    These and other questions will be the focus of the debate between:


    The Great Debate: Politics of Fear
    An Audience with Frank Furedi
    Sponsored by Newcastle University
    6.30pm, Monday 24th April 2006
    LG38, Bedson Teaching Centre
    University of Newcastle upon Tyne
    Map

    Do the terms "left" and "right" mean anything today?
    Is it really satisfactory to reduce all our political debate to these two terms?

    Professor Frank Furedi discusses his new book, Politics of Fear: Beyond Left and Right, arguing that contemporary and recent developments have created the need for a new conception of politics with an adequate conception of humanity - one that "remoralises" politics by taking humans seriously, recognises the centrality of morality and discussions of right and wrong, and utilises our imaginations. He proposes a new, and inevitably controversial, humanist politics to escape the trap of 20th century political ideology.


    The Great Debate: Science and the Human Potential
    Part of Newcastle Science Festival 2006
    Sponsored by Newcastle University
    Saturday 18th March 2006
    Rooms LG35/37, Bedson Teaching Centre
    University of Newcastle upon Tyne

    Tutors: Caspar Hewett and Jon Pugh

    Do humans really have a special place in nature?
    What do the notions of progress and humanism have to offer us today?

    This day school examined the development of ideas about the human potential and the changing notion of progress from the Scientific Revolution through to the present. The scientific method and its influence on the Enlightenment was discussed and the way that the notions of progress, equality and the centrality of humanity have changed over the centuries was explored through a study of key thinkers including Darwin and 'The Three Cs' - Copernicus, Condorcet and Comte. Modern schools of thought such as Postmodernism and how they relate to humanist ideas were discussed through a study of Derrida, Foucault and Deleuze.

    Print details for this event

    The Three Cs and the Notion of Progress: Copernicus, Condorcet, Comte by Caspar J M Hewett, Notes from the day school

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    The Great Energy Debate
    Part of Newcastle Science Festival 2006
    In association with Institute for Research on Environment and Sustainability
    7:00 - 8:30 pm, Wednesday 15th March 2006
    Discovery Museum, Great Hall

    Chair: Dave O'Toole

    Why does the debate over how we should generate our power continue to divide opinion? The EU has set a target for renewable energy of 22 per cent by 2010 but moves to build wind farms continue to meet opposition in the UK. Germany is already the world's largest wind power producer but the news that the German parliament has approved plans to double the country’s 15000 turbines over the next 16 years has been met with angry protests. Increasingly there is a push, even from noted environmentalists, to expand the use of nuclear power to help meet targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. So what is the future of power generation?
    with

    Print details for this event

    National Science Week 10-19 March 2006

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    Galileo, Genetics and the Greens: Perspectives on Scientific Thought
    From January 25th 2006
    Centre for Lifelong Learning, Newcastle upon Tyne
    Introduced by Caspar Hewett

    Ten week course exploring the development of ideas about our relationship with the natural world from the pre-Enlightenment to the crisis of belief in science towards the end of the 20th century and the rise of postmodernism and environmentalism.


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    2005

    The Rise and Rise of Evolutionary Psychology
    A Cafe Conversation at
    The Battle of Ideas
    Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore, London SW7
    Saturday 29th October 2005

    What lies behind the rise and rise of Evolutionary Psychology?
    Does this reflect or inform the way we view ourselves?

    One of the great triumphs of the late twentieth century was the application of Darwinian theory to animal behaviour. This led to many attempts to apply the same methods to human beings and to explain the human mind in evolutionary terms. In the 1970s sociobiologists attempted to explain human behaviour in terms of adaptation and were accused of being reactionary and racist. Yet since that period we have sociobiology's younger cousin Evolutionary Psychology has come to the fore. Evolutionary Psychology attempts to explain human nature exclusively in terms of evolved predispositions to behave in certain ways. How does this differ from sociobiology?

    What are the implications of this approach? What are its strengths and weaknesses? Why has Evolutionary Psychology proved so popular when sociobiology was rejected so ambivalently?

    Chair: Dave O'Toole
    with Rita Carter, author Mapping the Mind, Conciousness and Caspar Hewett, The Great Debate

    Battle of Ideas

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    Development, Sustainability and Environment
    The Great Debate in association with WORLDwrite and the RSA
    Saturday 15th October 2005

    In the last 20 years environmental thinking has become very much a part of our every day lives. The term 'sustainable development' has entered the mainstream and is used to guide policy in both the developed and developing world. Yet whilst we in the West enjoy a safe, clean, pleasant environment coupled with high living standards the developing world is being discouraged from aspiring to anything more than basic needs. So what is sustainable development and what are its consequences? What is current in environmental thought?
    Combining a workshop on film training with a global edge, documentary footage from Africa and the Middle East and a series of discussions this day conference examined the relevance of environmentalism in the new millenium and questioned whether development to western standards is possible for the developing world.

    Discussion sessions include Energy Futures, Aspirations and keynote debate funded by the RSA; What Future for Environmentalism?

    Speakers include Sir Bernard Ingham, Keith Barnham, Ian Burdon, Ceri Dingle, Geoff Parkin, Roger Higman, Viv Regan and Tony Gilland

    Click Here for further details
    Click Here for proceedings

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    The Nature of Being Human
    The Great Debate in association with Newcastle Philosophy Society
    Part of Newcastle Science Festival 2005
    Friday 18th March 2005, 7pm

    What is that defines a human being? Is it a universal nature? Is it consciousness? Is it our capacity for rational thought? Is it our ecological ability to adapt our environment rather than adapt to it? Can we rely on reason alone? What can we learn about ourselves through the study of evolution? How do these considerations interrelate? Why is it so popular to apply Neo-Darwinist principles to human behaviour and to society?

    These questions and others were examined through a discussion of what it is to be human with a panel of experts including Colin Talbot, author The Paradoxical Primate, Caspar Hewett, Chair, The Great Debate, Inge Rebergen, Historian and philosopher, Adam Bell, Kantian philosopher

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    Debating Matters Competition Debating Matters Competition

    The Great Debate supports North East launch of acclaimed debating competition

    The Great Debate hopes to involve more students in the region in public debate through its support of the Institute of Ideas' and Pfizer's Debating Matters Competition. Following its highly successful pilot year, the competition launched for the first time in the North East this year. The Great Debate was a partner in the North East region heat that took place at the University of Newcastle on Friday 18 March 2005.

    Debating Matters demands more than rhetoric or rant from the sixth form students who take part. Young people are encouraged to research issues thoroughly and become more confident and sophisticated in articulating their views by standing up to a probing intellectual examination. This is all part of the competition's philosophy of privileging reasoned participation over rhetorical posturing. Debate topics engage with contentious contemporary issues and uniquely involve a critical examination of debater's arguments by celebrity judges drawn from the fields of academia, the media and business.

    The debate motions for the North East region heat included: 'Victims should be more involved in the criminal justice system'; 'Conceptual art is not real art'; 'Reducing pollution should be society's top priority'; and 'Human genetic engineering is a step too far'.

    The Great Debate's Caspar Hewett, Dave O'Toole and Mo Lovatt were judges for the North East region heat.

    Click here for further details about the competition

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    The Great Debate: Being Human
    A one day course run as part of Newcastle Science Festival 2005
    Introduced by Caspar Hewett and David Large
    Saturday 12th March 2005, 9.30am -5.00pm
    Bedson Teaching Centre
    University of Newcastle

    Do our genes influence our conscious experiences? Do they explain them? Is the human mind something we can properly study? What can we learn about ourselves through the study of mind from the perspective of evolution? Since Darwin our vision of ourselves as a unique type of being has been progressively undermined. What can recent theories related to evolutionary theory, neurobiology and AI tell us about the experience of being human?


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    2004

    The Great Debate: Genes, Memes, Minds in association with the RSA

    Panel Discussion: 6pm, Tues 30th November 2004
    The Grainger Suite, Life Conference Centre, Newcastle upon Tyne
    Speakers: Susan Blackmore, Kenan Malik, Raymond Tallis
    Chair: Caspar Hewett

    RSA

    What can evolutionary theory tell us about the human mind?

    One of the great triumphs of the late twentieth century was the application of Darwinian theory to animal behaviour. This led to many attempts to apply the same methods to human beings and to explain the human mind in evolutionary terms. Thus we see the rise of the now common phrase ‘the gene for . . .’ in describing human behaviour. One theory, Evolutionary Psychology, attempts to explain the mind in terms of evolved predispositions to behave in certain ways.

    The theory of the meme rejects the notion that genes are sufficient to explain cultural evolution - especially in the light of the pace of cultural change. A meme is a unit of cultural transmission or imitation. Like the gene, which is a self-replicating molecule, the meme is a replicator - when a meme is imitated it has replicated itself. Meme theorists argue that human beings are determined largely by social factors, not just by genetic code and that there is another unit of selection at work - the meme. What both these approaches have in common is the idea that the notion of natural selection, can lead to an understanding of the human mind.

    What are the strengths and weaknesses of these approaches? Why are some theorists ambivalent about the explanatory value of genes and memes when it comes to the mind? Is there something fundamental that an evolutionary approach cannot provide?

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    The Great Debate: Whatever Happened to the Subject?

    Panel Discussion: Thursday 18th March 2004, 7-9pm
    International Centre for Life, Times Square, Newcastle upon Tyne
    Speakers: Rita Carter, James Heartfield, Raymond Tallis
    Chair: Caspar Hewett

    Are we masters of our destiny? Can we really influence the direction of change?

    Since the Enlightenment the idea of the subject has had a central place in thought about the special nature of humanity. This is a description of human beings as active agents doing things for reasons and shaping the world to their own ends. Yet, in recent years, fields as diverse as neuroscience, literary criticism and Evolutionary Psychology have converged on a very different vision of what we are. In the last twenty years we have been brought a vision of humans as machines; zombies experiencing the illusion of choice and intentionality. Why is this? Does this reflect a new understanding of what we really are or are these interpretations more to do with the way we view ourselves today?

    Click Here for proceedings

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    Playing it Safe: Science and the Risk Society

    Panel Discussion: Wednesday 17th March 2004
    International Centre for Life, Times Square, Newcastle upon Tyne
    Speakers: Roy Boyne, John Gillott, Lynn Frewer, Phil Macnaghten
    Chair: David O'Toole

    Is there a case for caution where the outcome of scientific and technological advances is uncertain? It is hard to believe that only a short time ago the benefits of scientific progress were taken for granted. Yet today the tendency is to consider the risks whenever a new technology is developed. The precautionary principle urges us to err on the side of caution when knowledge is uncertain and to place a duty of care on those who propose change. What are the consequences of this new way of looking at the world? Can we benefit from science without taking risks? What are the dangers of playing it safe?


    Of Blank Slates and Zombies (Modern Theories of Human Nature)

    Day school: Saturday 13th March 2004
    International Centre for Life, Times Square, Newcastle upon Tyne
    Tutors: Caspar Hewett and David Large

    Is there a universal human nature? If so, what defines it? Is it consciousness? Is it our capacity for rational thought? Is it our ability to adapt our environment rather than adapt to it? This one day course examined some modern ideas of what human nature is and attempted to draw some conclusions about these questions.


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    2003

    The Great Debate: Development, Sustainability and Environmentalism
    A day of discussion held on Saturday 27th September, Newcastle Civic Centre

    Peer Review for European Sustainable Urban Development Sponsored by Peer Review for European Sustainable Urban Development (PreSud)

    Click Here for proceedings

    In the last 20 years environmental thinking has become very much a part of our every day lives. The term 'sustainable development' has entered the mainstream and is used to guide policy in both the developed and developing world. Yet whilst we in the West enjoy a safe, clean, pleasant environment coupled with high living standards the developing world is being discouraged from aspiring to anything more than basic needs. So what is sustainable development and what are its consequences? What is current in environmental thought? This conference re-evaluated the relevance of environmentalism in the 21st century, examining the intimate links between the concepts of development, sustainability and environmentalism and asking if development to western standards is possible for the developing world.

    Speakers:
    Derek Bell, Leverhulme Research Fellow in Politics, University of Newcastle
    Allen Creedy, PreSud Project Director, Directorate of Enterprise, Environment & Culture, Newcastle City Council
    Ceri Dingle, Director, WORLDwrite
    James Heartfield, editor Sustaining Architecture in the Anti-Machine Age, author The 'Death of the Subject' Explained
    Joe Kaplinsky, Technology Analyst
    Mary Mellor, author The Politics of Money: Towards Sustainability and Economic Democracy
    Geoff Parkin, Lecturer, Sustainable Hydrology, Water Resource Systems Research Laboratory
    Jan Simmonds, Christian Aid North East



    The Great Debate: What does it mean to be human?
    Thursday 22nd May 2003, Newcastle Playhouse
    Click here for proceedings

    What does it mean to be human? Thoughts by Caspar Hewett
    Do I Want To Be Like You? Notes by David Large

    What level of communication is possible between humans and animals?
    How much can the study of animals tell us about ourselves?
    What does it mean to be human?

    In 1967, Roger Fouts, a psychology student, began teaching American Sign Language to a young chimpanzee called Washoe, beginning a relationship that has continued for over 30 years. The Chimp That Spoke is a production inspired by this story. Acclaimed for their bold visceral theatre productions, David Glass Ensemble present a meditation on our closest animal relatives and explore what it is to be human. The post-show discussion What does it mean to be human? was organised by The Great Debate in association with Northern Stage and David Glass Ensemble
    Chair: Mo Lovatt
    Panel
    David Glass, Artistic Director, David Glass Ensemble
    Caspar Hewett, Chair, The Great Debate
    Professor John Burn, Institute of Human Genetics, International Centre for Life
    David Large, The Great Debate

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    The Great Debate: Is Anti-Americanism Xenophobic?
    Wednesday 5th March, 10pm, Newcastle Playhouse Foyer/Bar
    Click here for proceedings

    A discussion convened by Mo Lovatt in association with The Ashton Group, The Great Debate and Northern Stage. As part of Northern Stage's Colour season, this event looked at issues raised by the play Lockerbie 103, the impact of US and British foreign policies and at attitudes towards the impending war with Iraq.
    Chair: Caspar Hewett
    Speakers:
    Ian Ferguson, journalist and co-author of Cover up of Convenience: The Hidden Scandal of Lockerbie
    Jon Bryan, Lecturer in Sociology, The Great Debate
    Doug Henderson, MP
    Peter Hetherington, Regional Affairs Editor, The Guardian
    Rachel Ashton, Director, Lockerbie 103
    Des Dillon, writer, Lockerbie 103


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    2002

    The Great Debate: Should we censor the Internet?
    Discussion and debate on 26 November 2002. Convened by David O'Toole
    Sponsored by Hodder and Stoughton and Well Read Bookshop
    Click here for proceedings

    Speakers:
    Bill Thompson, columnist, Internet Magazine
    Chris Evans, founder, Internet Freedom
    Ruth Dixon, Internet consultant, online safety and policy.
    Avedon Carol, Feminists Against Censorship, author of Nudes Prudes and Attitudes: Pornography and Censorship


    Modern Theory and the Human Mind
    Day school held on 26 January 2002

    Introduced by Caspar Hewett and Kenan Malik
    held at Centre for Lifelong Learning, University of Newcastle

    Selected notes
    Modern Theory and the Human Mind by Caspar Hewett
    What Can Science Tell Us About Human Nature? by Kenan Malik


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    2001

    The Great Debate - Darwinism Today
    A ten week course held September - December 2001
    at Centre for Lifelong Learning, University of Newcastle
    Tutor: Caspar Hewett


    The Great Debate in Action: Minds, Genes and Consciousness
    Day school held on Saturday 26 May 2001
    Tutors: David Large and Caspar Hewett
    held at Centre for Lifelong Learning, University of Newcastle

    Do our genes influence our conscious experiences? Do they explain them? Is the human mind something we can properly study? What can we learn about ourselves through the study of mind from the perspective of evolution? Why has it become popular to apply Neo-Darwinian principles to the philosophy of mind and consciousness? This day school will examine the issues raised by these questions through a study of evolutionary factors as applied to theories of mind. A conception of natural consciousness will be formed.


    The Great Debate: Evolution, Human Nature and Autonomy
    Public debate held on Thursday 22nd March 2001 at Department of Social Policy and Sociology , University of Newcastle in association with the Institute of Ideas.

    Sponsored by Polity Press and Weidenfeld and Nicolson
    Speakers:
    Christopher Badcock, author Evolutionary Psychology: A Critical Introduction, Psychodarwinism: The New Synthesis of Darwin and Freud
    Rita Carter, author Mapping the Mind
    Kenan Malik, author Man, Beast and Zombie, The Meaning of Race
    Sue Scott, Professor of Sociology, University of Durham
    Chair:
    Caspar Hewett

    The opening of the twenty first century brings with it new knowledge about our genes and our brains which promises a revolution in the way we view ourselves. Alongside this knowledge is a tendency to view human nature in a deterministic way.

    Some argue that only the social sciences can answer questions about human behaviour, while others argue that we are determined by our biology.

    So where are the appropriate places to look if we want to understand human nature? What are the implications for our ability to act as autonomous rational individuals?


    The Great Debate in Action: Sexual Selection and Questions of Human Nature
    Day school held on Saturday 27th January 2001, Centre for Lifelong Learning, Newcastle
    Tutors: Caspar Hewett and David Large

    A hundred years ago Darwin revolutionised our understanding of the origin of species. Since then the theory of evolution by natural and sexual selection has become accepted wisdom. Earlier this century Social Darwinism was discredited, yet in recent years it has again become popular to attempt to explain society in Darwinian terms. At the same time theories abound suggesting that humanity's evolutionary history and the genes we inherit determine our behaviour. What does this convergence of natural and social theory represent? This course investigates the theory of sexual selection and its application to animal and human behaviour, focussing on the themes: determinism, choice, ethics and responsibility.


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    2000

    The Great Debate - Darwinism Today
    A ten week course held September - December 2000
    at Centre for Lifelong Learning, University of Newcastle
    Tutor: Caspar Hewett


    Determined to Survive? The Great Debate - Freedom, Determinism and the Gene
    Public debate held on Wednesday 21st June 2000 at Centre for Lifelong Learning, University of Newcastle in association with the Institute of Ideas.
    Sponsored by Blackwell's
    Speakers:
    Christopher Badcock, author Psychodarwinism: The New Synthesis of Darwin and Freud
    Helene Guldberg , Associate Lecturer in Developmental Psychology, Open University
    Matt Ridley , author Genome, The Red Queen, The Origins of Virtue
    Chair:
    Caspar Hewett

    How much influence do our genes have on our behaviour? Is human nature the same for all societies? What can we learn about ourselves through the study of evolution? What are the implications for our freedom? Why has it become popular to apply Neo-Darwinist principles to human behaviour and to society? These questions and others will be examined through a discussion of evolutionary theory and genetics and their application to human behaviour.


    The Great Debate - Philosophical Approaches to Darwinism
    Day school held on Saturday 20th May 2000, Centre for Lifelong Learning, University of Newcastle
    Tutors: David Large and Caspar Hewett

    A hundred years ago Darwin revolutionised our understanding of the origin of species. Since then the theory of evolution by natural slection has become accepted wisdom. But what does this mean? What can evolution explain and how does it do that? This day school will interrogate recent evolutionary theory and genetics and apply philosophical approaches to examine these questions.


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    1999

    The Great Debate - Darwinism Today
    September - December 1999 at Centre for Lifelong Learning, University of Newcastle
    Tutor: Caspar Hewett


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    1998

    The Great Debate - Biodiversity
    Public discussion held on Thursday 29th October 1998 at Centre for Lifelong Learning, University of Newcastle
    Introduced by: Caspar Hewett and David Hall

    What is biodiversity? Why should humanity protect endangered species? Do they have intrinsic value? What effect could species extinctions have on humanity?


    The Great Debate - Darwinism Today
    Revised and run once each academic year. First run September - December 1998 at Centre for Lifelong Learning, University of Newcastle
    Tutor: Caspar Hewett

    What is the selfish gene? What is the link between Darwinism and genetics What can the study of evolution tell us about animal behaviour? What can we learn about the origins of altruism through the study of evolution? Why are there still disagreements within evolutionary theory today? These questions and many others are examined through a study of recent evolutionary theory and genetics and their application to animal behaviour.

    Since the publication of Darwin's On The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection in 1859 the theory of evolution by natural selection has become accepted wisdom. Yet great debates are still taking place amongst evolutionary theorists. This course looks at Darwinism and genetics and at the disagreements within evolutionary theory today. The modern application of Darwinism to animal behaviour is investigated.

    The course consists of ten sessions during which the work of specific authors and their ideas are introduced. Pair work, group work and class discussion allow the students to develop arguments and gain confidence in understanding the theories.

    Principal texts
    The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins, OUP, 1976
    Darwin's Dangerous Idea, Daniel C. Dennett, Penguin, 1995
    Reinventing Darwin: The Great Evolutionary Debate, Niles Eldredge, Phoenix, 1995


    Risk Conciousness and the Culture of Fear
    Saturday 16th May 1998, Centre for Continuing Education, University of Newcastle
    One day workshop facilitated by Caspar Hewett and Jon Bryan

    Are we really at risk? Why has the 1990s been characterised by one health panic after another? Why do new developments in fields such as genetic engineering engender fear and suspicion? Why has safety become the obsession of our era? What are the implications for the future? In particular, of the worls is viewed through the prism of risk, how can science and society move forwards?


    Sustainability and the Promise of Factor Four
    Saturday 31st January 1998, Centre for Continuing Education, University of Newcastle
    Tutors: Caspar Hewett and David Hall

    Is sustainable development a good thing? Twenty five years on from Limits to Growth, the new report to the Club of Rome, Factor Four - Doubling Wealth, Halving Resource Use is essential reading for anyone interested in sustainability. The book describes fifty exciting examples of new technologies which could revolutionise our use of resources, allowing us to improve living standards at the same time as decreasing our use of raw materials, fuels and minerals. However, having assumed that limited resources represent the most important challenge to humanity today, the authors go on to introduce the idea of resource productivity as the new measure of progress. What does this represent?

    • Are there limited resources?
    • What are the implications of constraining resource use?
    This discussion will explore the themes developed in the report, looking at the new technologies, examining the authors' sustainable agenda and questioning some of the assumptions made in what promises to be one of the most influential books of the decade.

    Essential reading: Factor Four - Doubling Wealth, Halving Resource Use, Ernst Von Weizsaker, Amory B Lovins, L Hunter Lovins, Earthscan 1997


    The Great Debate - Evolution and Human Nature
    January - March 1998, Centre for Continuing Education, University of Newcastle
    Tutors: Caspar Hewett and David Hall

    A hundred years ago Darwin revolutionised our understanding of the origin of species. Since then the theory of evolution by natural selection has become accepted wisdom. Yet great debates are still taking place amongst evolutionary theorists. Why is it then that prominent writers such as Richard Dawkins and Stephen Jay Gould fail to agree?

    Earlier this century Social Darwinism was discredited, yet in recent years it has again become popular to explain society in Darwinian terms. At the same time theories abound suggesting that humanity's evolutionary history and the genes we inherit determine our behaviour. What does this convergence of natural and social theory represent?

    This course will look at Darwinism and genetics and at the disagreements within evolutionary theory today. The modern application of Darwinism to society and to human behaviour will be investigated and reasons sought for the renewed popularity of this approach. The course will consist of ten sessions during which the work of specific authors and their ideas will be introduced. Pair work, group work and class discussion will allow the students to develop arguments and gain confidence in understanding the theories and the context in which they have become prevalent.


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