20 March 2020
Sixth Formers Annabelle and Emily recently attended university talks to further their politics studies, as their considered articles below explain.
Annabelle, Lower Sixth
I recently attended a fascinating University of Cambridge Subject Masterclass, delivered by Dr David Runciman, about the intergenerational gap that is creating conflict in politics. This is now more visible than it has ever been, and more prominent than any other factor that may dictate voting behaviour.
Dr Runciman cited examples such as the Hong Kong protests, where almost all the protesters and leaders were young people, and climate politics, a rhetoric that underlies a lot of intergenerational political conflict. He explained how the generational divide is bigger than ever because we are the first society to have more old people than young, and that generational conflict will not go away with time, since everyone will simply ‘move up’, i.e. the young people of today will one day be old.
Dr Runciman made a surprising suggestion for fixing this political stagnation: lower the voting age to six years old. He argued that we greatly inflate the risks of giving people the vote, and that every time democracy has ‘gotten stuck’ in the past, more people have been enfranchised, because this re-invigorates politics and democracy. It would make our democracy more exciting and more representative.
This lecture really opened my eyes to the current inequalities in our democratic system and the intriguing ways we could revolutionise it. I would definitely recommend participating in one of the Subject Masterclass days, even if you are not planning to apply to Oxbridge, the lectures can enlighten you to the forefront of today’s political thinking which is really exciting.
Emily, Lower Sixth
In early March, Annabelle and I went to the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and attended two talks in their 'Shape the World Festival'.
The first talk we went to was 'Planet, Population and Rights'. The panel consisted of Dr Julia Corwin (Assistant Professor in Environment, LSE), Carina Hirsch (Advocacy & Projects Manager at the Margaret Pyke Trust), Yamini Mishra (Director of Gender, Sexuality and Identity at Amnesty International) and Professor Wendy Sigle (Professor of Gender and Family Studies at the Department of Gender Studies). It was a highly engaging talk which focused on the clash between reproductive rights and the population crisis. Lots of interesting points were made, such as addressing barriers to family planning and asking the question of why the Global North is seen as the goal levels of consumption when we think of modernising.
The following day we went to 'Nature vs Nurture', with Tom Dickins (Professor of Behavioural Science, Middlesex University), Eva Jablonka (Professor of Evolutionary Biology, Tel Aviv University) and Sophie von Stumm (Professor of Psychology in Education, University of York). This talk was a lot more science-heavy than the previous one but also raised some thought-provoking points.
Overall, it was a really good experience which gave us a lot of food for thought. Both of these talks (and all the others from the festival) are available to listen to as podcasts, through the LSE Public Lectures and Events: podcasts and videos channel.