London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

ISET Seminar Series Autumn 2009

ISET European Interdisciplinary Seminar Series

Autumn 2009

Sustaining Diversities

The ISET seminar series addresses key issues in the making and remaking of Europe, whether social, political, economic or cultural.  Its concerns extend beyond Europe's borders to the global challenges of the twenty-first century.

In the contemporary conjuncture of economic crisis, escalating environmental threats, and conflicts between cultures, ethnic groups and political formations, the Autumn 2009 series asks how we can sustain cultural, political and linguistic diversities, as well as the economic and environmental conditions necessary for human and ecological flourishing.

19 October, Professor Tim Jackson, University of Surrey
Prosperity without Growth

Economic growth is supposed to deliver rising prosperity.  Higher incomes increase wellbeing and lead to prosperity for all, in this view.  But the conventional formula is failing.  The ecological and social consequences of unfettered growth are devastating.  Climate change threatens long-term wellbeing.  Resource scarcities undermine the basis for future prosperity.  Persistent inequalities still divide the world and a growing ‘social recession’ haunts the market economies.  Growth has delivered its benefits, at best, unequally.  Development remains essential for poorer countries.  But are ever-increasing incomes for the already-rich still a legitimate goal for advanced nations?  Or should we be aiming for prosperity without growth?

In this seminar, Tim Jackson, an advisor to the UK Government, acknowledges that society faces a profound dilemma: economic growth is unsustainable; but ‘de-growth’ – or economic contraction – is unstable.  The prevailing ‘escape route’ from this dilemma is to try and ‘decouple’ economic activity from its impacts.  But there is no evidence at all that this is working.  Global resource consumption is still rising (in some cases faster the GDP).  Meeting climate change targets will require reduction in carbon intensity two orders of magnitude higher than anything achieved historically.  Faced with this challenge, this seminar will engage in a critical re-examination of the economic structure and social logic of consumerism.  The notion of prosperity without growth calls for a new vision of a shared prosperity: the capability to flourish as human beings – within the ecological limits of a finite planet.  Fulfilling that vision is the most urgent task of our times.

Tim Jackson is Professor of Sustainable Development at the University of Surrey and Director of RESOLVE – the ESRC Research group on Lifestyles, Values and Environment.  Recent research interests have focused on the relationship between consumption, lifestyle, wellbeing and the environment.  Tim has also pioneered the development of ‘adjusted’ national accounts (‘green GDP’) and written extensively on the conceptual and empirical dimensions of the relationship between wellbeing, economic growth and sustainability.  Since 2004 he has been Economics Commissioner on the UK Sustainable Development Commission. From 2004-6 he was the sole academic representative on the UK Round Table on Sustainable Consumption.  During 2007-9 he led the SDC’s Redefining Prosperity programme, and authored the recent SDC report Prosperity without Growth? – the transition to a sustainable economy.  In addition to his academic work, Tim is an award-winning dramatist with numerous BBC radio credits to his name.  His most recent play Variations won the 2007 Grand Prix Marulic and was longlisted for the 2008 Sony awards.

26 October, Kate Soper
Sustaining social movements: some personal reflections

The talk will offer a mix of reflection, reminiscence and speculation: reflection on the nature of social movement politics in the post ’68 period; reminiscence on the peace movement politics of the 1980s in which I was personally involved (together with some consideration of their influence on disarmament and Cold war dissolution);  and speculation of a more abstract and general kind on what counts as social movement efficacy, what sustains them, and why, and whether this has to be thought about differently depending on the quality and agenda of the social movement concerned.

Kate Soper is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy in ISET. She is the author of What is nature?,  as well as numerous books and articles on alternative hedonism and the critique of contemporary capitalism.

2 November, Ralph Grillo
Contesting Diversity in Europe: Multiple Sites, Multiple Voices

Diversity must be understood, comparatively and contextually, as a process (‘diversification’), not a condition.  It is usually, certainly in contemporary Europe, a contested phenomenon, and that contestation is multi-sited, manifesting itself locally, nationally, internationally, and transnationally, and stretching across many socio-institutional domains (family, religion, school etc).  There is a multiplicity of voices and subject positions from within which those voices speak.  These voices, which are never simply to be equated with particular ethnic categories, are of unequal power and authority; there is struggle over the right to speak and name.  Often, debates about diversity reflect alternative and conflicting moral orders, clusters of ideas and beliefs about the right and wrong ways of thinking, doing, speaking.  Such moral orders constitute an aspect of multicultural diversity that is often overlooked, although they are implicit in much discussion of difference, e.g. around religion, conceptions of the family, legal processes etc.  Against this background, and focusing principally on British experience, the paper will draw on some recent work to explore the idea of multiculturalism (a particular mode of diversity) as an emergent, negotiated order.

Ralph Grillo: Emeritus Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Sussex, Studied anthropology at Cambridge (PhD 1968). Taught at Queen's University Belfast (1967-70), and subsequently at Sussex. Formerly Dean of the School of African and Asian Studies (AFRAS), and founding Director of the Graduate Research Centre for the Study of Culture, Development and the Environment (CDE). Anthropological field research in East Africa (1964-5), Ireland (1969), France (1974, 1975-6), Italy (1997). Honorary Member, Association of Social Anthropologists of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth.
Recent publications include:
Grillo, R., R. Ballard, A. Ferrari, A.J. Hoekema, M. Maussen & P. Shah (eds) 2009. Legal Practice and Cultural Diversity. Aldershot: Ashgate.
Grillo, R.D. (ed.) 2008. The Family in Question: Immigrant and Ethnic Minorities in Multicultural Europe. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press
Grillo, R. & V. Mazzucato. 2008. Africa<>Europe: Transnational Linkages, Multi-sited Lives.  Special Issue of Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 34(2).
Grillo, R.D. and Soares, B. (eds.) (2004). 'Islam, Transnationalism and the Public Sphere in Western Europe'. Special Issue of Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 30(5).

9 November, Professor Hanna Komorowska
Approaches to multilingualism in Europe - shared values and controversial issues

A considerable number of shared values form the basis of the European language policy, as demonstrated in recent documents of the Council of Europe and the European Union. Questions, doubts and controversial issues are, however, unavoidable.  Is English a helpful lingua franca or a dangerous killer language? How and at whose cost should regional and ethnic languages be protected? Is multilingualism an asset or a burden for the school system? How do countries differ in approaches to multilingualism? What is the perspective of the former eastern-bloc countries? How does history influence present day attitudes? What is the role of the educational context and the cultural heritage in shaping language policy today? Similarities and differences in the approach to multilingualism in old and new member countries of the European Union will be discussed and an attempt will be made to show areas where tensions arise and compromise is necessary.  Ways will also be presented in which differing approaches influenced perceptions of needs and their prioritisation in the work of the EU High Level Group on Multilingualism. The talk will close with a brief presentation of the final report of the HLGM with its motivational strategies for promoting multilingualism.

Hanna Komorowska is a professor of applied linguistics and language teaching at Warsaw University. After the fall of Communism she headed the Expert Committee for foreign language teaching and teacher education reform in Poland. Former vice-President of Warsaw University, the Polish delegate for the Modern Languages Project Group of the Council of Europe, and member of the EU High Level Group on Multilingualism in Brussels, she is now a consultant to the European Centre of Modern Languages in Graz and co-author of the European Portfolio for Student Teachers of Languages. She publishes widely in the field of FLT methodology and teacher education.

All seminars will take place 6.00 - 7.30pm
in The Old Staff Café,
London Metropolitan University,
166-220 Holloway Road,
London N7 8DB





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