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

Tuesday 2nd Jan: First Tuesday Current Affairs discussion

We'll discuss two topical subjects

Public discussions and debate in Manchester
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Recent Discussions

Mediation: a degradation of equality before the law?

March 2014

Michelle Simpson, Luke Gittos and Tanya Greaves introduced a discussion on the impact mediation in family and employment disputes is having on the law

 

Michelle SimpsonIn the wake of cuts to the Civil Courts, the coalition government have been arguing for mediation as an alternative to bringing cases before a Judge. In 2011, a new protocol in the Family Courts compelled parties to family law cases to consider alternative means of settling their cases. In January 2012 Kenneth Clarke, the then Justice Secretary, said that mediation was the best way to solve divorce cases ‘cheaply and simply’. The focus on mediation has given rise to a lucrative area of business for lawyers, who can develop practices on the basis that they are robust mediators.

Luke Gittos

Tanya GreavesFor many, the idea of resolving a case prior to a costly court case was very appealing. But are we at risk of creating a justice system in which finding an answer is prioritised over the exercise of legal judgement? Does it matter if parties bend the rules a bit if it avoids litigation? Does the rise of mediation show that our culture is less litigious, or just more dependent on lawyers solving our problems in the corridors of the Courtroom?

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Recent Discussions

How will universities deal with online degrees (MOOCs)?

February 2014

Dennis Hayes, Claire Beecroft, John Hutchinson and Joe Gazdula introduced a discussion on MOOCs, chaired by Shirley Lawes

 

Dennis HayesPromoted as a way of using technology to extend education to all, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have also been criticised as being a portend for the reduction in the quality of educational content. Is there a real decline in educational standards as many think there is, and what is the relationship between standards of education and the use of technology in facilitating education?

 

Claire Beecroft

Education is a hotly contested subject due to the special role it plays in passing on knowledge in society, or what Oakeshott described as ‘the conversation between the generations’. Many in education, the media, politicians, policy makers and academics have celebrated a ‘learning age’ in which easy access to information has been confused with knowledge and understanding, and led to the pronouncement that it is redundant. Others suggest that the idea that constant innovation and change mean that knowledge is soon ‘out of date’, undermining the requirement to pass on ‘the best that has been known and thought in the world’ and is a symptom of the decline of the social project of educating.

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Recent Discussions

Abortion: a choice for a woman or society?

January 2014

Ann FurediPeter D. Williams and Christine Fidler introduced a discussion on qualifications to being pro-choice on abortion

 

Ann FurediCampaigners for equal rights for women have always had to respond to arguments around women having autonomy over their own bodies. When it comes to controlling fertility, whether that be contraception or terminations, religious and moral arguments are open to modification, refinement and shifts in the relative balance of how much sway and influence they have. The availability of abortion offered to women through the 1967 Abortion Act is strictly proscribed and needs two doctors to approve the abortion request after the woman requesting the abortion has received counselling to help evaluate the request. A recent sting operation by the Daily Telegraph newspaper attempted to test the current operation of this process.

 

Peter WilliamsThe Daily Telegraph sent undercover reporters, accompanying two pregnant women to nine clinics in different parts of the country, and filmed two doctors agreeing to proceed with a termination after being told the pregnant woman wanted an abortion because of the sex of the unborn child. Current legislation requires that a termination can only be granted if two doctors honestly believe a woman meets the legal test that continuing the pregnancy "would likely cause injury to the mental or physical health of the woman". A case was made for the doctors to be prosecuted, which Keir Starmer the Director of Public Prosecutions decided against, saying that although there was a realistic prospect of securing convictions, it would be against the public interest to take the doctors to trial.

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Recent Discussions

Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

December 2013

Sarah Bartlett introduced a discussion on Master and Margarita replacing the December First Tuesday slot

 

Sarah BartlettMaster and MargaritaAs a slight change to the format of the First Tuesday current affairs discussion, we're going to discuss the novel by Mikhail Bulgakov entitled Master and Margarita. This novel offers a multitude of threads to discuss regarding the rich tapestry of life. There's a chance to think through the nature of understanding and writing about authoritarian regimes in inventive ways as well as something of an intellectual wind down as we head into the Christmas season. This has been a phenomenal year for the Salon, so see it as a way of stretching your imagination ahead of the heavy partying season when we all get to read more than usual in between social engagements.

 

Please take the time to refresh yourself with the novel or read for the first time in advance of the discussion, but at least read the couple of reviews below by way of wetting your appetite. From Sarah's review (link below), an interesting quote jumps out that's worth thinking about in terms of discussing things like the Arab Spring, and that is:

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Recent Discussions

Innovations in Transport

October 2013

Roundtable and key note speaker: panel discussion on the latest innovations in Transport led by Brian Simpson, MEP for North West and Chair of European Parliament's Transport and Tourism Committee

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Art on the brain?

October 2013

Ray Tallis, Philip Davis, Rhiannon Corcoran and George Szirtes will introduce a discussion on appreciating art, brain mapping, neuroscience, and our wellbeing

 

Ray Tallis

In recent years, the arts have increasingly turned towards neuroscience to understand its purpose and value. From Jonah Lehrer’s controversial Proust Was A Neuroscientist to Harry Witchel’s You Are What You Hear, there is a huge interest in the burgeoning field of neuroaesthetics.

Philip Davis

 

Yet some remain extremely sceptical both to the extent of what scientific findings actually reveal and, more broadly, science’s ability to explain art’s importance.

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