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Economic and Social Research Council Festival of Social Science

Economic and Social Research Council Festival of Social Science
Newcastle Institute for Social Renewal, NECTER / RCE North East and The Great Debate present
Decline and Fool:
Changing Ideas in the Twenty Teens

Saturday 9th November 2013
Bamburgh and Alnwick Rooms, Kings' Road Centre, Newcastle University

In loving memory of Donald Curtis on his birthday

Timetable     Location map     Links     Videos

Decline and Fool is a day of active debate and documentary-making. Participants will be invited to take a critical look at the declining influence of ideas that have dominated politics, philosophy and the arts for decades.

Beginning in the 1970s two movements emerged which came to define thought at the turn of the millennium. Environmentalism began as an expression of fears over pollution and limited resources and was in its early years associated with counter-culture and a critique of the status quo. By the turn of the century it had changed its form, having become incorporated into mainstream politics and taking on climate change as its central concern. Over the same period a number of thinkers, artists and social scientists, sometimes described by the umbrella term 'postmodernists', came to dominate the humanities and culture - including influential writers such as Michel Foucault and Umberto Eco, film makers such as Quentin Tarantino and Ridley Scott and musicians and bands from Talking Heads to Lady Gaga. One key element of postmodern thought, which influenced a generation, was its critique of the 'grand narratives' of the sciences and politics, claiming that all attempts to understand or shape the world are doomed to failure. These parallel developments had profound effects on politics and the social sciences, on how we understand the world, and how we view humanity. Yet the tide is turning and these ideas seem less popular now than they have in decades. Is this a welcome development? What has changed? Are environmentalism and postmodernism being replaced by anything new? This one day event will explore these questions through conversations between two expert panels and our general audience.

The day will include a film-making training workshop for young people, who will be encouraged to video their thoughts, and have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience of working behind and in front of the camera. Videos from the day will be published on this site.

An introductory film workshop for young people will introduced interview formats and techniques, capture participants’ initial thoughts on the topics and brief them on event-filming.

Two panel debates open to a wider audience of all ages will follow, each introduced by a panel of experts. Participants will be given plenty of opportunities to ask questions and make points from the floor:

Environmental retreat [10:30am] will examine how environmental thought has become less central in the popular imagination since the economic downturn and will ask whether or not this is a positive development.
Simin Davoudi, Newcastle University;
Clive Lord, founder member of the Green Party;
Rob Lyons, associate editor, spiked

After the fall? [12:50pm] will look at postmodernism, asking what people think it is and whether it has any relevance to the general population. It will explore the questions: Has its influence declined in the last few years? If so, is anything new replacing it? What developments would we like to see in its place?
Raksha Pande, Durham University;
John Pickering, Warwick University; and
Mark Tewdwr-Jones, Newcastle University.

Come along, hear the arguments and have your say!

Chair: Caspar Hewett

Click here to book

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Saturday 9 November 2013

09:00am - 09:15am

Registration for film-workshop and welcome

09:15am - 10:15am

Film-workshop I

10:00am - 10:30am

Registration for debates and refreshments followed by welcome address

10:30am - 12:00pm

Debate 1: Environmental retreat [OPEN TO ALL]

12:00pm - 12:50pm


12:50pm - 02:20pm

Debate 2: After the fall? [OPEN TO ALL]

02:30pm - 04:00pm

Film-workshop II

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Rob Lyons Rob Lyons Simin Davoudi Simin Davoudi Clive Lord Clive Lord
Raksha Pande Raksha Pande John Pickering John Pickering Mark Tewdwr-Jones Mark Tewdwr-Jones

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Raksha Pande on feminism - interviewed by film-making workshop participants

Raksha Pande on postmodernism and 'After the Fall' debate - interviewed by Alice Lau

John Pickering

Clive Lord on environmentalism - interviewed by film-making workshop participants

Audience member interviewed by film-making workshop participants after debates

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Location Map
King's Road Centre is situated behind Newcastle University Students' Union [See also Newcastle University Campus map].
Bamburgh and Alnwick Rooms are downstairs in the King's Road Centre.

King's Road Centre

Bamburgh Room

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Useful Links

Economic and Social Research Council
ESRC Festival of Social Science
Newcastle Institute for Social Renewal
Battle of Ideas
the great debate schools programme
the great northern debate
North East Centre for Transformative Education and Research (NECTER) / RCE North East
Bjørn Lomborg - Hero or Villain? by Clive Lord
Vote for, not against something by Clive Lord, May 2009

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© C J M Hewett, 2013