Academy of Ideas
Do we need a Green New Deal?

Do we need a Green New Deal?

February 1, 2020

Recording of a debate at the Battle of Ideas festival on Sunday 3 November 2019, in partnership with City of London Corporation.

On both sides of the Atlantic, the idea of a Green New Deal has become a major policy focus. In the US, the idea has been put forward by left-leaning elements of the Democratic Party, while a cross-party group of MPs has called for a UK version. Proponents suggest that if the kind of money spent on wars, or on bailing out the financial system, were diverted to greening the economy, it would mitigate climate change while raising living standards and providing jobs. For critics, a Green New Deal would be a waste of resources.
With the private sector reluctant to invest in such a long-term and high-risk enterprise, is it up to governments to step in and do what is necessary?

DANIEL BEN-AMI
journalist; author, Ferraris for All: in defence of economic progress

ANGELA FRANCIS
chief adviser of economics and economic development, WWF; former chief economist, Green Alliance

SIR ROGER GIFFORD
senior banker, SEB; vice-chairman, Association of Foreign Banks; chairman, Green Finance Institute; former Lord Mayor of London

PROFESSOR VICKY PRYCE
chief economic adviser and board member, Centre for Economics and Business Research; author, Women vs Capitalism

CHAIR: PHIL MULLAN
economist and business manager; author, Creative Destruction: how to start an economic renaissance

From zero hours to apprenticeships: young people at work

From zero hours to apprenticeships: young people at work

January 29, 2020

Listen to this debate from the Battle of Ideas festival 2019. Special thanks to the Federation of Awarding Bodies who partnered with the Academy of Ideas to produce this session.

The UK has relatively low rates of youth unemployment. But as critics point out, this statistic hides a multitude of issues. Starting salaries for graduates are amongst the lowest in the EU. Despite many initiatives to promote apprenticeships, many young people end up in low-paid, ‘gig economy’ or zero-hour jobs with few career prospects. For many years, the response has been the same: more ‘transferable’ or employment-related skills in education and encouraging young people to take up apprenticeships. But are employers and the government doing enough to train employees for the jobs of the future? Are apprenticeships the solution or an unimaginative return to old ideas?

Speakers include:

TOM BEWICK
chief executive, Federation of Awarding Bodies; founder, Transatlantic Apprenticeship Exchange Forum

HARRIET BISHOP
astrophysics student, University of Glasgow

DR RUTH MIESCHBUEHLER
senior lecturer in education studies, Institute of Education, University of Derby; author, The Minoritisation of Higher Education Students

ROB NITSCH
chief operating officer, Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education; former professional engineer, British Army; fellow, CIPD and IMechE

CHAIR: CLAIRE FOX
director, Academy of Ideas; Brexit Party MEP; author, I STILL Find That Offensive!

What’s the point of going to university?

What’s the point of going to university?

January 29, 2020

Listen to this debate from the Battle of Ideas festival 2019:

More people now attend university in the UK than ever, but there is much less clarity about what university is for. For many, it is simply a step on the career ladder between school and work. For others, higher learning is about pursuing knowledge for its own sake. Do universities even do a good job at preparing people for jobs, or should we make more use of on-the-job training for that purpose? Do vocational qualifications merit the same prestige as academic degrees? Does everyone deserve the opportunity to spend three years at university – or is it an evasion of the ‘real world’?

Speakers include:

KIRSTIE DONNELLY MBE
group managing director, City & Guilds Group; commissioner, Labour Party Lifelong Learning Commission

DENNIS HAYES
professor of education, University of Derby; founder and director, Academics For Academic Freedom (AFAF); co-author, The Dangerous Rise of Therapeutic Education

JHANELLE WHITE
student, King’s College London; founder and chair, Political Sweep

PROFESSOR ALISON WOLF
author, The XX Factor: how the rise of working women has created a far less equal world; cross-bench peer

CHAIR: DAVID BOWDEN associate fellow, Academy of Ideas

How can we create a construction revolution?

How can we create a construction revolution?

January 28, 2020

A recording of a debate at the Battle of Ideas festival 2019.

From the housing crisis to infrastructure projects, construction is more important than ever. Everyone seems to agree that innovation is crucial to the resurgence of the construction sector. And yet, for all the fine words and government initiatives, the construction industry continues to languish in the doldrums with very little innovation. While the UK has been slow to adopt the latest technologies, other countries have embraced new methods, such as modular construction. So why aren’t robots manufacturing housing in giant factories to be transported to site? Why is there so little investment in 3D printed construction? Where are the new materials and processes, and what needs to be done in order to create them?

DR THEO DOUNAS
senior lecturer, Scott Sutherland School of Architecture and the Built Environment, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen

 

LISA FINLAY
group leader and partner, Heatherwick Studio; founder, 7N architecture practice

SIMON RAWLINSON
head of strategic research and insight, Arcadis; member, Construction Leadership Council; member, UK Government BIM
Task Group

NEIL THOMPSON
director, digital construction, SNC Lavalin Atkins; associate professor, University College London

CHAIR: AUSTIN WILLIAMS
senior lecturer, Dept of Architecture, Kingston University, London; honorary research fellow, XJTLU, Suzhou, China; author, China’s Urban Revolution

Artificial intelligence in schools: where’s the humanity?

Artificial intelligence in schools: where’s the humanity?

January 27, 2020

Listen to this debate from the Battle of Ideas festival 2019.

Could artificial intelligence (AI) transform education? Schools are already tentatively exploring ‘adaptive learning’ applications, which identify gaps in a student’s knowledge and build personalised quizzes. Sir Anthony Seldon, author of The Fourth Education Revolution, argues that by taking care of the mechanical aspects of education, AI can free up teachers to focus on creativity and problem-solving. What might this mean in practice and what do teachers make of the idea that our schools are churning out ‘robot-like’ workers? What, if anything, is uniquely human about being a teacher and how important are the relationships between teacher, pupil and subject?

Speakers include:

CARLA AERTS
director, Tmrw Institute; former director of futures, Institute of Education, UCL; global digital director, Cambridge University Press Education

DONALD CLARK
EdTech entrepreneur; CEO, WildFire; board member, Cogbooks and LearningPool

JEN PERSSON
director, defenddigitalme; campaigner for safe, fair and transparent use of children's data in the classroom

GARETH STURDY
functional skills teacher, LHAA; education and science writer; former project coordinator, Physics Factory

CHAIR: HARLEY RICHARDSON
organising committee, AoI Education Forum

Does the world need a government?

Does the world need a government?

January 27, 2020

Listen to the debate from the Battle of Ideas Festival 2019.

From climate change to tax evasion, humanity’s biggest challenges are increasingly global. Many of those frustrated by our lack of progress on these issues argue for some form of world government. If the United Nations, or some similar body, had real power over national governments, global agreements could be made and enforced. But others argue that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for seven billion people to hold a world government to account. Indeed, many find the idea of a world government sinister. Nevertheless, can we really solve our global problems without global political institutions?

Speakers include:

ANDREAS BUMMEL

executive director, Democracy without Borders; co-author,
A World Parliament: governance and democracy in the 21ST century

IAN CRAWFORD

professor of planetary science and astrobiology, Birkbeck College, University of London

MARY KALDOR

emeritus professor of global governance, LSE; director, Conflict and Civil Society Research Unit, LSE; author, Global Security Cultures, Global Civil Society

DR TARA MCCORMACK

lecturer, international politics, University of Leicester

CHAIR: ROB LYONS
science and technology director, Academy of Ideas; convenor, AoI Economy Forum

Produced by Ian Crawford and Rob Lyons

A waste of a good crisis? A decade after the crash, with Larry Elliott

A waste of a good crisis? A decade after the crash, with Larry Elliott

January 21, 2020

Debate recorded at the Battle of Ideas festival on Saturday 2 November 2019.

Critics argue that relatively little has been done since the financial crisis to fix the underlying problems that precipitated it. Have we failed to take the old advice to ‘never waste a good crisis’? Extraordinary monetary measures are still mostly in place, but there are heated debates about whether the major developed economies are healthier or weaker than in 2008. Acclaimed Guardian economics editor Larry Elliott explores what can be done to pull the west out of its economic malaise. How can we challenge the ‘new normal’ of low growth, poor productivity and stagnating living standards?

PHIL MULLAN
economist and business manager; author, Creative Destruction: how to start an economic renaissance

IN CONVERSATION WITH:

LARRY ELLIOTT
economics editor, Guardian; co-author, Europe Isn’t Working and The Gods That Failed: how the financial elite have gambled away our futures

What is the future of the Union?

What is the future of the Union?

December 20, 2019

Listen to the debate from the Battle of Ideas Festival 2019.

The result of the Scottish independence referendum in 2014 seemed to put paid for the foreseeable future to the most significant threat to the Union, but the result of the EU referendum in 2016 has put the cat amongst the pigeons once more. The future of Northern Ireland has also been a constant bone of contention since the Brexit vote. In September, a shock opinion poll suggested that a quarter of Welsh voters would vote for independence. Is the Union really in imminent danger? Is there a positive case for the UK today, whether economic, political or even emotional?

**SPEAKERS**
MEV BROWN
spokesperson, SDP Scotland; former spokesperson, Business for Britain in Scotland; campaigner, Better Together

DR RUTH DUDLEY EDWARDS
journalist, historian and broadcaster; award-winning author, The Seven and Patrick Pearse: the triumph of failure

LINDA MURDOCH
campaigner for rights and democracy in Scotland; director of careers, University of Glasgow

AKASH PAUN
senior fellow, Institute for Government; associate fellow, Centre on Constitutional Change, Edinburgh University

DR GLYNNE WILLIAMS
associate professor, School of Business, University of Leicester

CHAIR: JUSTINE BRIAN director, Civitas Schools

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Caster Semenya running into controversy: genes, gender and sport

Caster Semenya running into controversy: genes, gender and sport

December 16, 2019

Listen to the debate from the Battle of Ideas Festival 2019.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport has ruled women with naturally higher levels of testosterone cannot compete in women’s sport events unless they reduce their testosterone with medication. CAS was hearing an appeal by a South African runner, Caster Semenya, against a ruling by the governing body of athletics, the IAAF, that she cannot compete in certain events having been born with a condition leading to unusually high testosterone levels. What does this mean for elite sport? And can we separate sports from other areas of society in which discrimination against people with different sexual developments is taboo?

DR CARLTON BRICK
lecturer in sociology, School of Media, Culture and Society, University of the West of Scotland

DR SILVIA CAMPORESI
director of bioethics and society postgraduate programme, King’s College London; co-author, Bioethics, Genetics and Sport

GEORGINA NEWCOMBE
student, Durham University; athlete and footballer; Living Freedom alumnus

DR JOEL NATHAN ROSEN
associate professor of sociology and anthropology, Moravian College; author, The Erosion of the American Sporting Ethos

DR EMILY RYALL
reader in applied philosophy, University of Gloucestershire; author, Philosophy of Sport: key questions

CHAIR: GEOFF KIDDER

director, membership and events, Academy of Ideas; convenor, AoI Book Club

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Podcast of Ideas: first thoughts on General Election 2019

Podcast of Ideas: first thoughts on General Election 2019

December 13, 2019

The results of yesterday's UK General Election throw up many different issues. Why did the Conservatives end up winning comfortably? Why did the Labour vote collapse, with seats that had voted Labour for decades switching to the Tories? Does the success of the SNP in Scotland mean there will be another independence referendum? What does it all mean for Brexit?

Discussing these issues and more are Alastair Donald, Claire Fox, Rob Lyons, Jacob Reynolds and Ella Whelan.