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First Tuesday current affairs discussion - Tuesday 5 September 7:00pm start

Tuesday 5th September: First Tuesday Current Affairs discussion

Discussing Militarising the Far East and a second topic

Public discussions and debate in Manchester
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I feel your pain: do humans and animals suffer similarly?

September 2011

Dr Stuart Derbyshire and Professor Anthony Jones will try to untangle the uniqueness and commonality of pain and suffering for humans and animals.

Stuart DerbyshireProfessor Anthony JonesThe suggestion of animal pain assumes an important level of equivalence between the psychological experience and biological development of animals and humans. These assumptions require critical assessment. Although there is biological similarity across the animal kingdom including shared nerve fibres that carry sensory information and trigger defensive reactions and comparable brain regions and hormonal stress responses, considerable biological differences between humans and animals remain manifold. To put it bluntly, the brains of all animals are underdeveloped compared to human brains and most neuroscientists believe that brain development has an important and necessary relationship with experience. Clearly for some, and maybe for all animals, pain experience can be rejected because they simply do not have the brains for it. 

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Crafts and gardening: the new frontiers of radicalism?

September 2011

Kate Day, Professor George McKay, Barbara Hastings-Asatourian and Rob Lyons discussed the impact crafts and gardening are having in society.

Kate DayThe current wave of interest in craft, and in particular in the process of making things for yourself, surely has its roots in recent social, political, and economic developments. It is often argued that the fashion for creative activity can be regarded as a backlash against an increasingly virtual and corporate world that promotes the passive consumer - albeit a Web 2.0 one. Alongside the grow-your-own allotment movement, the make-your-own approach enables craft participants to experience shaping their material world, creating objects that have an individual stamp and a narrative in their production. Is this just a repeat of the rural craft revival of the 1970s for a new generation, or perhaps a new twist to the fashion for eco doom-mongering?

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Creativity and writing: in conversation with Melvin Burgess

September 2011

Melvin Burgess discusses his researching and writing of gritty novels as 'Kill All Enemies' is published, hosted by Dave Bowden.

Melvin Burgess Dave Bowden

Melvin Burgess is a controversial and somewhat pioneering writer of gritty novels for young people like Junk, Smack, Lady: My life as a Bitch, and Doing IT: Do you remember the first time?. Whilst his books have sometimes caused outrage when first published, they've found themselves winning awards, appearing on the reading lists of university creative writing courses and now on the school curriculum! So what are we to make of the various fashions in literature and how do authors cope with these trends when writing. Indeed, to what extent do novels reflect and shape our impressions of society?

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Feminists and SlutWalk: can reclaiming words empower women?

July 2011

Nina Powell and Anna Percy will introduce a discussion on whether women are empowered by reclaiming words like slut.

Nina PowellAnna PercyIn January a Canadian police officer, Michael Sanguinetti, unwittingly triggered a series of marches a few months after a routine visit to Osgoode Hall Law School, Toronto - to advise a small group of students on their personal safety. And the cause of these marches across the globe? You might think it was the idea the state should lecture us on our personal lives, but no, it was the tone of his advice, saying 'I've been told I'm not supposed to say this - however, women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised'. The marches have been branded 'SlutWalks' and involve mostly women, some dressed in scantily clad outfits or burlesque style garments, carrying a variety of handmade placards, reclaiming the word 'slut'.

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Valuing the arts in an age of austerity

June 2011

Angus KennedyDr Kim Wiltshire and John Summers will discuss how the arts sector can ensure excellence in the midst of dramatic budget cuts

Angus KennedyThe Arts in general have always had a difficult time in attracting public and private funding for their activities, but with widespread cuts in public spending budgets, including the arts, financial considerations on which productions and organisations will and which won't go ahead will be more difficult than recently. The economic crisis and subsequent funding cuts are forcing many in the arts to reappraise how they argue the case for funding.

 

Dr Kim WiltshireThe Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) is investigating techniques to assess the economic value of the arts, what it terms non-market goods, in terms of what people feel they would be willing to pay for things if they were not free.

 

And the February 2011 Royal Society for the Arts (RSA) pamphlet entitled 'Arts Funding, Austerity and the Big Society: Remaking the case for the arts' states:

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The struggle for democracy in the Middle East and Africa

June 2011

Karl Sharro will introduce this discussion of recent developments and asking whether the Arab movements can survive western intervention?

 

Karl Sharro

The uprisings in Arab countries came as a surprise to most; even President Obama questioned US intelligence agencies’ failure to predict events. Those uprisings are driven by genuinely popular democratic movements, but their outcomes are still unclear. Following the early successes in Tunisia and Egypt, the fate of the uprisings in Bahrain, Yemen, Libya and Syria is now far from certain. Given the lack of traditional forms of political organisation spearheading those uprisings, how will events unfold and who are the main players determining the outcomes?

 

The UN-sanctioned NATO intervention in Libya has revived support for ‘humanitarian intervention’, but Western leaders appear very reluctant in leading this intervention. In the absence of a coherent US and Western policy, regional players are stepping up to fill this vacuum with Saudi Arabia sending its troops into Bahrain to help crush the uprising there, and Turkey attempting to orchestrate the outcomes in countries such as Syria and Libya.

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