Death, justice and world peace: University events get to the heart of global issues31 October 2017
A post-Halloween activity series exploring what happens when we die is one of a number of highlights of an upcoming nationwide festival, each asking tough questions about some of the world’s biggest issues.
The University of Reading is hosting three free events as part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science between 4-11 November. They will focus on how research helps us explore society’s attitude towards death, why the world’s poorest communities are suffering most from the effects of climate change, and how we protect children around the world from sexual abuse.
Bringing death to life
A Mexican Day of the Dead-inspired celebration of life entitled ‘Game Over? Bringing Death to Life’ will take place at the University of Reading and Museum of Rural English Life on Friday 10 November. From interactive sessions with an ethical taxidermist to a games of cemetery Monopoly, the event is being held to help people of all ages to discuss a topic that experts suggest is being avoided in society.
Workshops, including a death café, labyrinth and a Wall of Tears, will take place during the afternoon, followed by presentations by guest speakers.
Dr Yota Dimitriati, a lecturer in the Institute of Education who has organised the event, said: "For many of us, death is a subject that is swept under the carpet, either because it's too hard to discuss or is wished away as one of tomorrow's problems. We have found that the kind of environment we are looking to create helps people confront, discuss, and engage with the topic can lead to some incredible conversations - and a much greater appreciation for each other as we consider our own mortality."
Is it fair that the poorest in the world are most affected by climate change? This question and more will be considered at and event entitled ‘Climate Justice. Can fairness create a green future?’.
Members of the public will have the chance to discuss with academics from the Leverhulme Climate Justice Programme some of the biggest ethical and political questions raised by climate change, and humanity's response to them.
“There are far too many people that think that climate change is a just a problem out there for science to solve" - Professor Chuks Okereke, University of Reading
The event, taking place at the University on Saturday 11 November, will include a screening of Greedy Lying Bastards, a film which investigated fossil fuel industries and how they affect vulnerable communities.
Professor Chuks Okereke, professor of environment and development and co-director of the Levehulme Programme in Climate Justice at the University of Reading, said: “There are far too many people that think that climate change is a just a problem out there for science to solve rather than one that challenges some of the fundamental ideas upon which societies and international relations function. Others understand that climate change raises serious issues of justice both within and across countries but wonder how to decide what exactly is fair and what, if anything, we can do as individuals or a society to help.
“This event provides an opportunity to explores the issue of climate justice and consider how we can come up with a solution that helps these communities by addressing injustice and climate change at the same time.”
Peacekeeper or perpetrator?
Work to find solutions to two of the biggest problems facing the UN will be showcased at two events in London, featuring research from experts at the University’s Global Law research centre.
A lecture at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office entitled ‘Peacekeeper or Perpetrator?’ on Monday 6 November will focus on work to protect children in the most dangerous places around the world. It will feature presentations by Professor Rosa Freedman, Professor of Law Conflict and Global Development at the University of Reading and author of several books on the UN and international human rights, and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict and Minister of State for the Commonwealth and the UN, among other high profile guests.
The second, London School of Economics on Tuesday 7 November and entitled ‘Gender Equality: How can the UN lead?’, will explore issues of gender equality in the UN and how changes can be made.
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These events have been organised as part of the ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council) Festival of Social Sciences, which is taking place across the country between 4 and 11 November.
Further details can be found at http://www.esrc.ac.uk/public-engagement/festival-of-social-science/