Astrobiology
29th June 2017

Nature and Human Nature: The Digital Media Conversation on Science and Society

The search for biological life in the cosmos has long been a preoccupation of humankind and is now an established multidisciplinary field of scientific investigation under the name of astrobiology. In September 2015, with funding from the NASA Astrobiology Program, the Center of Theological Inquiry at Princeton (CTI) embarked on a series of cross-disciplinary conversations between the sciences and humanities on the cultural impact of this search on society.

CTI is an independent institution for advanced research on global concerns. It convenes scholars in the humanities and theologians in projects that consider the implications of science, not only for religion but also for society. Astrobiology is at the heart of the discourse.

We live at a time when the existence of life elsewhere seems increasingly likely. Science fiction moves ever closer to becoming science fact. In the United States, NASA continues to be at the forefront of this research and will play a central role in our June conversation.

Inevitably, much of the media response to this area of research is rich in sensationalism but poor in reasoned, cross-disciplinary analysis. Yet all the while scientists and scholars in the humanities and social sciences have been holding a different conversation on science and society, a much more nuanced, thoughtful and creative conversation. It is this conversation that we wished to develop in June and considered what might be the role of digital media in making this discourse more widely accessible.

Civic Engagement & Digital Technology
26th June 2017

Civic engagement: How can digital technology encourage greater engagement in Civic Society

The final consultation of four in the Corsham Institute 2017 Thought Leadership Programme in partnership with Rand Europe.

The need for a stronger, more effective understanding of a good citizenship within a connected society was a key theme to emerge from our 2016 Thought Leadership programme. This final event in the 2017 series developed on this theme, and considered how digital technology might be used to strengthen local communities and engage citizens of all ages more generally in our democracy.

With rising disenchantment with main stream political parties, lower voter participation, the rise in support for populist (challenger) political parties, and a general shift in attitudes away from traditional institutions of authority, there is a need to revisit how we can better engage citizens of all ages and backgrounds in civic society, and to support greater participation in our democratic processes at a national as well as local level.

2nd June 2017

Malvern 2017- Faith, Belief and Nation-building – What sort of Britain do we want to build for the 21st Century?

In Partnership with University of WorcesterUniversity of ChesterThe University of WarwickWilliam Temple FoundationCulham St Gabriel’sSaint Peter’s Saltley Trust and Centre for Faiths and Public Policy 

This consultation aimed to curate a strategic and deep conversation about nation building and the role of institutional faiths and belief (both religious and non-religious) in that task.

This consultation took place in the context of a deep sense of fragmentation that was highlighted by the Brexit vote, but which has deeper and longer roots.

It took place approximately a year after the Referendum vote on June 23rd 2016, and engaged with 12 months of national and international reflection following this momentous event.  Fragmentation is between and within localities as well as regions and nations within the UK as well as running along demographic fault lines such as class and age. A salient parallel to the original Malvern consultation in 1941 is that the stability and security of Europe feels directly under threat – not so much from a global war as from a series of destabilising globalising trends, including terrorism, economic uncertainty and nationalism. The time is ripe to develop a deep and critical sense of multiculturalism about what it means to be British and European in the 21st century. This, we suggest, starts with a shared imaginary of what this means, rooted in religious and philosophical traditions, out of which might emerge a sense of shared narrative of what the United Kingdom is, and the ethics upon which that narrative is based.

Key questions and areas we wanted to explore at this event included:

  1. What sort of our nation are we?
  2. What sort of nation could we be?
  3. What values and beliefs sustain your vision?

The full consultation report can be read here.

character education and citizenship education.
22nd May 2017

Connecting Character Education and Citizenship

The Jubilee Centre for Character & Virtues, in partnership with citizED, consulted a select group about the connections between character education and citizenship education.

As part of its scope of work, the Centre has produced statements on different aspects of character education, including A Framework for Character Education in Schools, a Statement on Youth Social Action and Character Development, and a Statement on Teacher Education and Character Education.

These have been circulated to policymakers, practitioners and academics across the UK, and have been met with widespread support and approval. Given the important interconnections between the two fields, the Consultation drew together expertise from both academics and professionals in practice to assist us with developing a Statement on Character Education and Citizenship Education.

Currency
5th May 2017

Currency: redefining the way we transact in a digital world

The third consultation of four in the Corsham Institute 2017 Thought Leadership Programme in partnership with Rand Europe.

As new forms of currency become established there will be opportunities, but also strategic challenges and changes in perceptions within society that need to be considered, specifically around issues of trust, integrity, and most importantly economic control and regulation.

This consultation considered the future possibilities for currency in a more digitally connected society, and specifically considered whether crypto-currencies and data will become established as currencies of preference. The discussions also considered the strategic opportunities and challenges that such an emergence will create for society and inclusion.
Open Science
5th April 2017

Open Science: the citizen’s role and contribution to research

The second consultation of four in the Corsham Institute 2017 Thought Leadership Programme in partnership with Rand Europe.

Open Science, as a movement, aims to make scientific research, data and the dissemination of findings more accessible to everyone in society, with citizen science forming one dimension of this movement, focusing more specifically on the input from members of the public to research activities.

Many citizen science projects involve the public undertaking research and analysing data, with the role of the citizen being to provide additional capacity for the collection and/or review of large volumes of data. These initiatives have been undertaken across multiple disciplines, including ecology, zoology, urban planning, astronomy and physics, arts and humanities, environment and climate, and medicine.

The aim of this event was to consider the future vision for citizen science in a more connected society, and how this vision should evolve. We explored the opportunities and challenges that are involved in engaging the public directly in scientific research, and the role which digital technology can play in addressing such issues and further incentivising participation.

Digital technology’s role in enabling skills development
5th March 2017

Education: Digital technology’s role in enabling skills development for a connected world

The first consultation of four in the Corsham Institute 2017 Thought Leadership Programme in partnership with Rand Europe.

Digital technology is disrupting traditional models of education and skills attainment and is increasingly being used to deliver education, knowledge and skills in new and innovative ways. Coupled with future changes to the mode and pattern of work (as identified in our 2016 Thought Leadership programme), and the economic shock posed by the current political climate, there is a need to consider how digital technology can best support individuals to develop the skills needed to attain maximum benefit for both work and social uses.

This can also help to create societal norms when using digital technology and ensure appropriate behaviour online.

The overarching aim was to generate breakthrough thinking by using a mixture of robust debate, careful listening and a willingness to consider different perspectives.

The Consultation aimed to explore the following key questions and areas:

  • How can digital delivery channels help ensure equality of access and inclusivity to skills and education?
  • Can we define a new, more sustainable, model for delivery of education and skills in a more connected world?
  • In an increasingly digital world, how can an ageing population acquire the digital skills necessary to transact in a more connected society?
  • How do we build capacity within the education system to maximise the impact of digital technology?
  • Who should be involved in the design and delivery of digital skills and education?
  • What should be the role of digital technology in terms of supporting a new skills agenda for economic growth in the current climate?

Electoral reform society
1st February 2017

Electoral Reform Society

In recent years the Electoral Reform Society has been building relationships across the trade union movement to pursue voting system reform as well as wider changes to our democracy that help to increase people’s participation in politics.

This Consultation aimed to take that work to the next level by bringing key allies together to discuss where next for trade unions, electoral reform and other issues affecting the health of our democracy.

Life Transitions
8th November 2016

Life transitions: Supporting an effective transition on leaving the UK Armed Forces

In partnership with Forces in Mind Trust 

This consultation aimed to look at the issues and approaches of life transitions from other sectors to gain a better understanding of how to support an effective transition for the UK Armed Forces. 

The consultation considered the issues and approaches at three different stages of transition: preparing for the transition, during the transition process, and post-transition (in terms of sustainability).

Using the concept of a connected social network, we explored the role that three specific stakeholders might play during a life transition, covering:

  • The individual (who undergoing a life transition);
  • Family and friends;
  • Wider societal groups (including institutions and service providers)

The full consultation report can be read here.

freedom of expression
1st November 2016

Freedom of Expression and Universities

In partnership with the Centre of Islamic Studies, SOAS 

Universities are under increasing pressure from government to prevent students coming into contact with ‘extreme’ ideas. The thesis is that exposure to such ideas risks drawing students into terrorism. But there are other risks also, in particular the risk to freedom of speech and to academic freedom. 

Many university administrators appear to believe that in order to prevent potential terrorism, the law requires them to curtail the freedom of academic debate. Is this an accurate interpretation of the law or are universities actually in breach of the Education Act (1986) and the Human Rights Act (1998)? What are the overall implications for tertiary education in the UK? This consultation will looked in depth at the issues facing universities with regard to freedom of expression and the relationship with the state.

The full consultation report can be read here.

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