Next Salon Discussion

Developing a post-Brexit economic strategy - Tuesday 25 April, 6:45pm

Tue 25 April 2017: Developing a post-Brexit economic strategy

Phil Mullan, Kirsty Styles and Mindy Gofton will introduce a discussion on how to transform the zombie economy

Public discussions and debate in Manchester
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Recent Discussions

Revolution BarCreative Christmas Party

Revolution Bar in Parsonage Garden, M3 2LF

December 2012

 

Organised by Ben Hui of Creative Industries North West (CING), and jointly promoted through Blood, Sweat & Beers; Junior Chamber International, Poetic Republic, Manchester Irish Lawyers Society and Manchester Salon to bring you a big fat festive party.

 

The party will take place in the back lounge of the Revolution Bar in Parsonage Gardens (behind House of Fraser on Deansgate), and there's a DJ from about 7 pm onwards.

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Recent Discussions

Learning to pay for an education

November 2012

Joanna Williams and Paul Taylor introduced a discussion on the costs of a higher education

Joanna WilliamsFrom September 2012, university students in England are paying up to £9000 a year in tuition fees. But the concept of the ‘student-as-consumer’ pre-dates these most recent fee-increases which have only enhanced the perception that students are consumers of an increasingly marketised university system. The cultural shift in how students consider themselves in relation to their studies and how they are perceived by others in society has been taking place for at least a decade. Even before the introduction of tuition fees directly paid by students, potential entrants to HE were often encouraged by teachers, parents and university marketing departments to seek out the best ‘product’.

 Paul Taylor

In the popular media, fee-paying is sometimes presented as a generally good development in that it gives students greater ‘rights’ and the power to hold universities to account if the service they are offered doesn’t come up to scratch. Indeed, one reason for the government endorsement of tuition fees was the idea that a market in HE would help to drive up standards as institutions would have to get better at responding to customer demands.

 

There has also been much criticism of tuition fees with widely-reported student protests occurring in the winter of 2010/11. Such demonstrations could be interpreted as indicating students’ rejection of the assumption that they are customers. However indicating one’s unhappiness with fee-paying is not always the same as rejecting consumerist attitudes. Indeed, the opposite may be the case, and unhappiness with the level of fees may actually represent the mainstream adoption of a consumerist attitude.

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Recent Discussions

Manchester Science Festival

Battle over the Internet

November 2012

Norman Lewis, Mindy Gofton, Keith Teare and Maria Kutar introduced a discussion about our aspirations for using the Internet, chaired by Martyn Perks

Norman LewisIt's hard for most of us to imagine life without the Internet, even though it's actually quite a recent development. Although not originally envisioned as the ubiquitous entity it now is, its elegant design of distributed command and control means that its management and future have always been contested and to a large extent, in our own creative hands. Whilst many of the early wrangles through organisations like the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EEF) seem to have waned, the focus of discussion is much more on the form and content of communication rather than its technology or administration.

 

Mindy GoftonOur contemporary discussions may lack some of the bite and vision embedded in battles around the technologies of Web 1.0, so what are the ideological battlegrounds today as we move through the technologies of the Web 2.0 era, and how can we best shape the emerging trends as emerge into the truly mobile inter-connected network. Communication forums such as Twitter and Facebook have been celebrated for their role in helping to facilitate the uprisings across the Arab nations recently, and regimes acting to suppress such communications rightly labelled as authoritarian. With a different focus and reason for restricting communications via the Internet, many champions of freedom of expression against Arab regimes, seek to regulate the freedom to express challenging views of hurtful comments towards minority groups.

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Recent Discussions

Manchester Science Festival

Feeding a growing world

October 2012

Rob Lyons, Angelica Michelis, Louise Bolotin and Carol Wagstaff introduced a discussion about how to feed a growing world

Rob LyonsEver since October 2011, when it was estimated that the global population had passed seven billion people, discussions have raged about how the world will cope. With food prices already rising amid deeper environmental concerns, the United Nations and governments worldwide are particularly preoccupied with how we will feed ourselves. An increasing population is overwhelmingly viewed as a matter of more mouths to feed rather than a potential source of solutions.

Dr Angelica Michelis

 

So while feeding the world seems a straightforward technical issue of implementing the most efficient and effective farming practices, a host of extraneous social, political, cultural, even ethical issues seem to thwart the implementation of solutions. The angst-ridden discussion about the pros and cons of growing genetically modified crops is only one example. Meanwhile, Western societies seem disillusioned with the gains of industrialised food production. Factory farming and processed foods are demonised; local, organic, natural are celebrated.

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Recent Discussions

Exploring Space: star gazing or history making?

October 2012

Manchester Science Festival

Fresh from the Battle of Ideas science strand, Craig Fairnington hosted this showing of For All Mankind (1989), followed by a discussion about our aspirations for exploring engineering solutions today

Apollo 11 bootprintDuring the Apollo lunar missions from 1968 to 1972, those on board were given 16mm cameras and told to film anything and everything they could, in space, in orbit, and on the surface of the moon itself. NASA was at the cutting edge of video camera technology during the Apollo missions and customized various types of cameras to capture the footage. Two decades later, filmmaker Al Reinert went into the NASA vaults to create this extraordinary compendium of their journeys and experiences. Assembled from hundreds of hours of the astronauts' own footage, with a soundtrack made up of their memories and a specially composed score by Brian Eno, the film takes the form of one journey to the moon and back again, building with elegant simplicity and exquisite construction to create an overpowering vision of human endeavour and experience.

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Recent Discussions

What does tolerance mean today?

October 2012

Frank Furedi introduced a discussion on contemporary challenges to the classical liberal ideal of tolerance.

Frank FurediTolerance is a virtue in all regards, except when it isn’t. In the wake of last year’s riots there were plenty of conservative calls for A Clockwork Orange-style ‘zero tolerance’ clampdowns on Britain’s apparently feral youth. David Cameron can simultaneously reject calls for a burqa ban as against the British tradition of tolerance, yet call for an end to the ‘passive tolerance’ of multiculturalism which permits hate speech of Islamists. In contrast, liberals proudly counter that they will ‘tolerate everything except intolerance’. Yet when the accusation of ‘intolerance’ can be applied to opponents of gay marriage, footballers accused of using racist language and those who wish to send their children to a faith school, it becomes increasingly unclear how tolerance differs from respect or approval.

On Tolerance
The tradition of tolerance – through John Locke, Voltaire, Kant and JS Mill – emphasised the importance of moral independence, not relativism. Locke tolerated what you thought because no one could ever establish tyranny in your heart. Mill also tolerated what you did – so long as it did not harm others. And crucially he valued the existence in society of views and opinions he found objectionable – their existence vital to the pursuit of truths which we should not assume we know. Yet today, the concept of harm can be extended to include offensive or hurtful remarks. Some even argue we should not tolerate acts which harm only ourselves: banning smoking; curbing binge drinking; warning against ‘junk’ foods. And, in the name of protecting tolerant societies from their enemies, the war on terror has justified intolerant measures – laws against incitement to terrorism or religious hatred – in many countries.

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