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Unity and Diversity

5-7 March 2021

ABOUT

Download Festival brochure

Welcome to Malvern Festival of Ideas, a multidisciplinary festival of ideas that takes place in Malvern, Worcestershire, but in 2021 will be an online event. It is a themed weekend of talks, discussion and activities.

In 2021, the title of the Festival is Unity and Diversity. Over recent years there has been increasing polarisation in debates in the public domain, fuelled in part by Brexit but also other factors. More recently, there has been much talk about unity as brought about internationally by the global pandemic. Is the uniting force in some ways is stronger than divisions? What can we learn from our (positive) experiences and build on to face future threats and how? How do we need to change? What reforms are needed?

 

Beginning in 2012, 2021 marks the 10th festival. This year, the Festival is taking place online. Details of registration can be found below.

 

SPEAKERS

As usual, there will be sessions throughout the weekend. We have an excellent set of speakers and this page will be updated as further additions are made to the programme.

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Baroness Shami Chakrabarti

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Professor John Ashton

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Dr Roman Krznaric

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Professor Kalwant Bhopal

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Sir Vince Cable

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Lord Mervyn King

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Ms Amelia Gentleman

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Mr Paul Mason

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Ms Rachel Holmes

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Professor Mark Maslin

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Science Programme

A regular feature of the weekend has been a science programme. This year is no exception. We have an excellent international science programme, but we begin with art, which links in nicely with our science and art session at the end of the afternoon. There is free access to this from the registration page. 

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Saturday 6th March 2021 

10am Will Hughes: Drawing a story

This is a free-to-view workshop. 

Author and illustrator Will Hughes will host a session all about stories. He will talk about how you can think of a character, a theme or an idea and use that to come up with a story all with drawings alone.

 

Draw and paint your own characters and their stories alongside Will as he makes one based on the suggestions of the audience!

 

Aimed at ages 5 - 10 years

Saturday 6th March 2021 

11am Robert Walsh, Sarita Robinson and Nicky Danino: 

UNMASKED: The Science of Superheroes

This is a free-to-view workshop. 

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Based on their new popular science book “Unmasked: The Science of Superheroes”, UCLan academics and authors Robert Walsh, Sarita Robinson and Nicky Danino will use ideas behind amazing superpowers to explore the rich, cutting-edge science that’s happening right here and now in our world. Together we will delve into the superhero psyche, pitch our wits against cunning artificial intelligence and learn how to obtain an extra-terrestrial sidekick!

 

Robert is a Professor of Solar Physics at the University of Central Lancashire and is a world-leading expert on the Sun and its interaction with Earth. As well as collaborating with NASA colleagues on their sounding rocket programme, Robert is a Leadership Fellow in Public Engagement with the Science and Technology Facilities Council, specifically working with young people in Blackpool, Lancashire.

 

Sarita is the Deputy Head for the School of Psychology and Computer Science at UCLan. Sarita has investigated the psychobiology of behaviour over the last twenty years, specifically focusing on how the brain functions (or doesn’t) when we face life-threatening events.

 

Nicky is a Principal Lecturer in Computer Science at the University of Central Lancashire, England. he carries out research into online human behaviour and is particularly concerned with the availability of personal data.

 

So, don your super-suit as we unmask the astounding world of science and superheroes!

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Saturday 6th March 2021 

12.30 Scientists for Global Responsibility : 

Family Science Workshop 1: Do you know the impact of washing your hands?

This is a free-to-view workshop. 

Why do we use soap? What is the effect of using soap?

 

What is the environmental impact of some of the everyday items we use for washing and cleaning?

 

Explore how you can reduce the impact of your single use shampoo and shower gel plastic bottles with some practical home science.

 

What alternatives can you make at home? We will look at the science of making your own soap, and other alternatives you can make with simple ingredients.

 

Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR) is a membership organisation promoting responsible science and technology

Saturday 6th March 2021 

2pm Scientists for Global Responsibility : 

Family Science Workshop 2: Climate Kitchen! Do you know the impact of your diet?

This is a free-to-view workshop. 

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We all like to eat – here we explore how you can reduce the environmental impact of your food with some meal ideas you can try at home.

What is the carbon footprint of some of our favourite foods?

What simple swaps can we make to reduce our environmental impact?

We will look at how to introduce some alternatives – and with simple cupboard staple ingredients.

Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR) is a membership organisation promoting responsible science and technology.

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Saturday 6th March 2021 

3.15pm Dr Grace Wolf-Chase: 

Community Building with Zooniverse: Empowering Participation in Scientific Discovery

This is a free-to-view workshop. 

Using the award-winning Zooniverse online platform for “citizen science,” people of all ages from all walks of life are making exciting new discoveries in the sciences and humanities. Check out zooniverse.org/projects and come learn how to join a worldwide community of people who are actively participating in cutting-edge research projects!

Grace's primary research interests are in the origins of stars and planets. She has decades of experience in the acquisition, reduction, and analysis of infrared, sub-millimeter, and millimeter-wave observations. Her current focus makes use of archived data to conduct large surveys assisted by the efforts of citizen scientists.

She and her colleagues are currently using data acquired through the Milky Way Project, one of more than 200 research initiatives that have been launched on Zooniverse, the world’s largest online platform for citizen science, to explore the nature of a class of young star-forming regions that were serendipitously discovered by citizen scientists. 

Saturday 6th March 2021 

5.15pm Professor Clifford V. Johnson in conversation with Philip Ball: Uniting Art and Science: Empowering engagement and discovery

This is a free-to-view science talk

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Professor Clifford V. Johnson, physicist and author of The Dialogues and award-winning science writer Philip Ball, author the forthcoming The Beauty of Chemistry, will discuss themes and ideas from their latest books about the interplay of art and science, how it enhances engagement with the world around us, and whether it even plays a role in research and discovery.

 

Clifford V. Johnson, is a Professor of Physics at the University of Southern California. His award-winning work in science ranges from research and teaching to public engagement, where he strives to put science back into the general culture. His research explores the origin and evolution of the universe and its fundamental constituents, as well as the nature of space and time, including objects such as black holes. Clifford works regularly with authors, filmmakers and other artists to help embed science into their storytelling, and he recently wrote and illustrated a graphic novel featuring science called The Dialogues: Conversations about the Nature of the Universe (MIT Press).

 

Philip Ball is a freelance science writer. He worked previously at Nature for over 20 years, first as an editor for physical sciences (for which his brief extended from biochemistry to quantum physics and materials science) and then as a Consultant Editor. His writings on science for the popular press have covered topical issues ranging from cosmology to the future of molecular biology.

 

Philip is the author of many popular books on science, including works on the nature of water, pattern formation in the natural world, colour in art, the science of social and political philosophy, the cognition of music, and physics in Nazi Germany. He has written widely on the interactions between art and science, and has delivered lectures to scientific and general audiences at venues ranging from the Victoria and Albert Museum (London) to the NASA Ames Research Center, London's National Theatre and the London School of Economics.

PROGRAMME

There is a variety of sessions including talks, conversation with the hosts and questions from the audience. Some of the sessions will be followed by live virtual book signings.

Friday 5th March 2021

7.30pm Baroness Shami Chakrabarti: Unity, Diversity and Hope for the Future

 

A talk followed by discussion with the host, author and historian Rachel Holmes, and questions from the online audience.
 

Sharmishta "Shami" Chakrabarti, Baroness Chakrabarti, CBE, PC  is a British Labour Party politician, barrister, and human rights activist. She served as the director of Liberty, an advocacy group which promotes civil liberties and human rights, from 2003 to 2016. From 2016 to 2020, she served as Shadow Attorney General for England and Wales.


Chakrabarti studied Law at the London School of Economics. After graduating, she was called to the Bar and then worked as an in-house legal counsel for the Home Office.


When she was the director of Liberty, she campaigned against "excessive" anti-terror legislation. In this role she frequently contributed to BBC Radio 4 and various newspapers, and was described in The Times as "probably the most effective public affairs lobbyist of the past 20 years". She was one of the panel members of the Leveson Inquiry into press standards throughout 2011 and 2012. Between 2014 and 2017, she served as Chancellor of the University of Essex.


In April 2016 she was appointed as chair of an inquiry into antisemitism and other forms of racism in the Labour Party. In August 2016, Chakrabarti was made a life peer in the Prime Minister's Resignation Honours. 

Saturday 6th March 2021

10am-11am Ms Rachel Holmes: Sylvia Pankhurst: Natural Born Rebel

In conversation with author, journalist and campaigner Melissa Benn about her recent moving and powerful biography of Sylvia Pankhurst, and answers questions from the online audience.

Rachel Holmes is a cultural historian whose work combines meticulous biographical research with an ability to bring the lives and times of her 19th-century subjects vividly to life.


Her particular interest is in medical and gender issues, and she connects her subjects to current debates and points up their contemporary relevance. Holmes has been Director of Literature at the South Bank Centre in London and is a frequent broadcaster and journalist. Her most recent biography is of the life of Sylvia Pankhurst, political rebel, human rights champion and radical feminist. 
 

11.30pm-12.30pm Professor John Ashton: Blinded by Corona: How the Pandemic Ruined Britain's Health and Wealth and What to Do about It

John talks about his analysis of the pandemic with public health physician and Member of Independent SAGE, Gabriel Scally, and answers questions from the online audience.
 

John Ashton is a British doctor and academic. Ashton previously held positions at the University of Southampton, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the University of Liverpool School of Medicine and as Regional Director of Public Health for North-West England for 13 years.


He was one of the initiators of the World Health Organization's Healthy Cities Project from 1986 to 1988 during which time it went from being a European project to a global movement and a pioneer of three public health initiatives.
 

2pm-3pm Sir Vince Cable: Money and Power

Vince Cable talks about his new book Money and Power (February 2021) and answers questions from the audience, hosted by Malvern councillor Ronan McLaverty-Head.
 

Vince Cable is a British politician and author who was Leader of the Liberal Democrats from 2017 to 2019. He was Member of Parliament for Twickenham from 1997 to 2015 and from 2017 to 2019. He also served in the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills from 2010 to 2015. In May 2019, Cable led the Liberal Democrats to their best national electoral performance since the 2010 election, gaining fifteen seats in the European Parliament election. His books include Money and Power: The World Leaders Who Changed Economics (2021), China: Engage!: Avoid The New Cold War (2020) and After the Storm: The World Economy and Britain's Economic Future (2016).

3.15pm-4.15pm Dr Grace Wolf-Chase: Community Building with Zooniverse: Empowering Participation in Scientific Discovery

Using the award-winning Zooniverse online platform for “citizen science,” people of all ages from all walks of life are making exciting new discoveries in the sciences and humanities. Check out zooniverse.org/projects and come learn how to join a worldwide community of people who are actively participating in cutting-edge research projects!

This is a free family workshop.

3.30pm-4.30pm Lord Mervyn King: Radical Uncertainty: Decision-making for an unknowable future

Mervyn King is interviewed about his book, Radical Uncertainty, by award-winning writer, curator of Salon London and founder of the Also Festival Helen Bagnall and takes questions from the public.

Mervyn King, Baron King of Lothbury, KG is a British economist and public servant who was appointed as Governor of the Bank of England in 2003, succeeding Edward George. Most notably, he oversaw the bank during the financial crisis of 2007–2008 and the Great Recession. King retired from his office as governor in June 2013. He was appointed a life peer and entered the House of Lords as a crossbencher in July 2013. 


Since September 2014 he has served as a professor of economics and law with a joint appointment at New York University's Stern School of Business and School of Law.
 

5.15pm Professor Clifford V. Johnson in conversation with Philip Ball: Uniting Art and Science: Empowering engagement and discovery

Professor Clifford V. Johnson, physicist and author of The Dialogues and award-winning science writer Philip Ball, author the forthcoming The Beauty of Chemistry, will discuss themes and ideas from their latest books about the interplay of art and science, how it enhances engagement with the world around us, and whether it even plays a role in research and discovery.

Clifford V. Johnson, is a Professor of Physics at the University of Southern California. His award-winning work in science ranges from research and teaching to public engagement, where he strives to put science back into the general culture. His research explores the origin and evolution of the universe and its fundamental constituents, as well as the nature of space and time, including objects such as black holes. Clifford works regularly with authors, filmmakers and other artists to help embed science into their storytelling, and he recently wrote and illustrated a graphic novel featuring science called The Dialogues: Conversations about the Nature of the Universe (MIT Press).

 

Philip Ball is a freelance science writer. He worked previously at Nature for over 20 years, first as an editor for physical sciences (for which his brief extended from biochemistry to quantum physics and materials science) and then as a Consultant Editor. His writings on science for the popular press have covered topical issues ranging from cosmology to the future of molecular biology.

 

Philip is the author of many popular books on science, including works on the nature of water, pattern formation in the natural world, colour in art, the science of social and political philosophy, the cognition of music, and physics in Nazi Germany. He has written widely on the interactions between art and science, and has delivered lectures to scientific and general audiences at venues ranging from the Victoria and Albert Museum (London) to the NASA Ames Research Center, London's National Theatre and the London School of Economics.

7.30pm Mr Paul Mason: Clear Bright Future: A Radical Defence of the Human Being

Paul is interviewed on After Trump and Brexit, the prospects for liberalism and the left and answers questions from the audience.

Paul Mason is a British commentator and radio personality. He was Culture and Digital Editor of Channel 4 News, becoming the programme's Economics Editor in 2014, a post he formerly held on BBC Two's Newsnight programme. He is the author of several books including Clear Bright Future: A Radical Defence of the Human Being (2019) and PostCapitalism: A Guide to our Future (2015).


He is a visiting professor at the University of Wolverhampton. Mason won the Wincott Prize for Business Journalism in 2003, the Workworld Broadcaster of the Year in 2004, and his work was cited when Newsnight was awarded the Orwell Prize in 2007. 
 

Sunday 7th March 2021

 

10am-11am Professor Mark Maslin: Welcome to the Anthropocene: from environmental destruction to redemption?

A talk covering the whole of human history! Followed by questions from the online audience. Hosted by leading research scientist David Lowe
 

Mark Maslin FRGS, FRSA is a Professor of Climatology at University College London. He is science advisor to the Global Cool Foundation and the Sopria-Steria Group and a member of Cheltenham Science Festival Advisory Committee. Maslin is a leading scientist with particular expertise in past global and regional climatic change and has published in journals such as Science, Nature, and The Lancet.  He has written several popular books including The Human Planet: How We Created the Anthropocene (2018), The Cradle of Humanity: How the changing landscape of Africa made us so smart (2017) and Climate Change: A Very Short Introduction (2014). 
 

11.30pm-12.30pm Dr Roman Krznaric: The Good Ancestor: How to Think Long Term in a Short-Term World

Roman discusses The Good Ancestor, a book with the power to shift a mindset, with award-winning writer and founder of the Also Festival Helen Bagnall and answers questions from the online audience

 

Roman Krznaric is a public philosopher who writes about the power of ideas to change society. His latest book, The Good Ancestor: How to Think Long Term in a Short Term World, has been described as ‘the book our children’s children will thank us for reading’. His previous books, including EmpathyThe Wonderbox and Carpe Diem Regained, have been published in more than 20 languages.


He is founder of the world’s first Empathy Museum and is currently a Research Fellow of the Long Now Foundation. His writings have been widely influential amongst political and ecological campaigners, education reformers, social entrepreneurs and designers. 
 

2pm-3pm Professor Kalwant Bhopal: White privilege: The myth of a post-racial society

Kalwant discusses issues raised in her book White Privilege with Unitarian minister Winnie Gordon and answers questions from the online audience.

Kalwant Bhopal is Professor of Education and Social Justice and Director of the Centre for Research in Race & Education at the University of Birmingham. Her work explores the achievements and experiences of minority ethnic groups in education with a focus on how processes of racism, exclusion and marginalisation operate in predominantly White spaces. Bhopal has claimed that racism is present in academia in various ways; including the marginalisation of black and minority ethnic staff, their exclusion from decision-making, frequent micro-aggressions, implicit bias and open prejudice. Her books include White privilege: The myth of a post-racial society (2018) and Gender, 'Race' and Patriarchy: A Study of South Asian Women (2018). 

 

3.30pm-4.30pm Ms Amelia Gentleman: The Windrush Betrayal - why justice remains elusive for so many of those affected

Award-winning journalist Amelia Gentleman in conversation with award-winning writer and founder of the Also Festival Helen Bagnall  about her book, The Windrush Betrayal, explaining what has happened in the three years since the government apologised for the Home Office mistake, which led to thousands of people who had lived legally in the UK for decades being misclassified as immigration offenders. Although three successive Home Secretaries and two prime ministers have apologised and promised reform, the hostile environment policies which caused the problems remain in place. Questions from the online audience.

 

Amelia Gentleman is a journalist and reporter, named as the Political Studies Association's journalist of the year for 2018, with Carole Cadwalladr, and as journalist of the year in the British Journalism Awards, 2018. 

 

 

REGISTRATION

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To take part in the live events and put forward questions for the speakers, you are required to register. You will be able to register for the whole weekend or for individual sessions. The registration website is  https://digital.malvernfestivalofideas.org.uk/

We are pleased to be working with Zarucchi to deliver the online event, which is available through their platform. There are considerable costs in delivering the event. The registration website gives details of the cost of all sessions. There is also a weekend ticket. Registration allows you to access all online sessions and see past sessions. 

 
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Books are available online from Malvern Book Co-operative (via Bookshop) or at the Weekend book-signing sessions from Zarucchi

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SUPPORT THE FESTIVAL

Support the Festival and our parent charity EngageMalvern. 

There will be a recommended charge for each session and a Festival ticket covering all sessions.

In order to deliver the event, we rely on the generosity of many people and organisations. If you would like to help and make a donation, there are a number of ways you can do this. Donations go to our parent charity (EngageMalvern). The main costs in 2021 are organising and hosting the online events, equipment hire, and publicity. 

  1. Make a donation at one of the online sessions.

  2. Transfer to EngageMalvern a/c: 65863800 sort code: 089299 Ref: MFI2021

  3. Donate using PayPal below

 

Disclaimer

The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed by Festival speakers are solely those of the speakers, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Festival organisers. All speakers are invited in good faith as appropriate contributers to chosen topics for lawful free speech and for questioning by the public.