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Salisbury Conversations 2020

by Michael Ford last modified 28 Feb, 2020 07:25 PM

An impressive line-up of academics, public figures, social observers and theologians will gather at Salisbury Cathedral in March to take part in Salisbury Conversations 2020, a series of discussions tackling major issues facing us this century.

Part of Salisbury, City on the Move, the year-long programme of events and activities marking the Cathedral’s move from Old Sarum to its present site, Salisbury Conversations 2020 explores major movements or developments in ideas and beliefs in line with the overarching theme of the year - movement in technology, thoughts and ideas, and physical movement.

The Very Revd Nicholas Papadopulos, Dean of Salisbury said:

“Lent is a time for taking stock and reflecting. The Conversations were introduced to the Lent agenda for the first time last year as a way of encouraging thoughtful exploration of difficult and divisive subject matter, and finding common ground within issues that polarise people today.

“By setting aside time to allow ideas to be explored in depth, by people who have thought deeply, and often differently, about the subjects being discussed, we hope to gain insights into some of the ideas or movements that dominate the agenda today.”

On 3 Tuesdays during Lent, starting on Tuesday 3rd March, 4 experts guided by a facilitator will discuss feminism, the ethics of AI and algorithms, and the challenge of climate change.

The Conversations take place in front of an audience in the Cathedral, and each discussion is recorded live and transmitted on BBC Wiltshire at midday on the following Sunday, as well as being uploaded to BBC Sounds.

See below for details on individual Conversations.

Tuesday 3 March, 7pm
Salisbury Conversations 2020: What has feminism done for you?
From the right to vote to #MeToo, feminism in various guises has been around for well over a century. Where has it got us and what’s the plan for the future? 50 years on from the first Women’s Liberation conference in the UK, we discuss whether feminism is essential to a healthy society – and if there is a way forward on which we can all agree?
Caroline Bannock, the Guardian’s Editor for Communities and former senior news producer and acting foreign editor at Channel 4 News, is joined by a panel of women who have been at the cutting edge of the feminist debate including:
The Bishop of London, The Rt Hon and Rt Revd Dame Sarah Mullally DBE
Ella Whelan, journalist and author of What Women Want: Fun, Freedom and an End to Feminism
Jade Bentil, historian and author of 'Rebel Citizen: A History of Black Women Living, Loving and Resisting' (due to be published next year by Penguin/ Allen Lane)
Zelda Perkins, campaigner fighting for changes to the way NDA’s (non-disclosure agreements) are used to abuse power. In 1998, Zelda signed a nondisclosure agreement with Harvey Weinstein, which she publicly broken in 2017 to highlight the “unethical” nature of these type of agreements

Tuesday 10 March, 7pm
Are algorithms controlling your life?
How do you feel about a machine determining your future? Would you trust a robot? Algorithms are behind the technology we rely on to shape our decisions and our lives. From Woebot, an app created to combat anxiety and depression, to big data used to tackle national emergencies, the coder can help - but how far should we take it?
Geoff White, investigative journalist and reporter on technology for Channel 4 News and the BBC, is joined by panellists including:
Professor John Wyatt, medical ethicist and Emeritus Professor of Neonatal Paediatrics, Ethics and Perinatology at UCL
Dr Karen O’Donnell, practical theologian and author of 'Digital Theology: Constructing Theology for a Digital Age'. Karen is the Coordinator for the Centre for Contemporary Spirituality at Sarum College
Professor Sarvapali Ramchurn, Professor of Artificial Intelligence at the University of Southampton
Dr Mike Veale, Lecturer in Digital Rights and Regulation at University College London and author of 'Slave to the Algorithm' (with Professor Lilian Edwards)

Tuesday 70 March, 7pm
How are you going to save the world?
We know the climate is in peril and many of us experience daily climate anxiety – but what can we or what will we do to make a difference? How can the climate conundrum be solved and who are the people to do it?
Clare Nasir, meteorologist and weather presenter on Channel 5, is well qualified to talk about climate issues. Clare has a BSc in Mathematics and MSc in Marine Science, and is Met Office trained, weather forecaster. She is joined by panellists including:
Professor Hugh Montgomery, Director of the UCL Institute for Human Health and Performance and a founding member of the UK Climate and Health Council
Dr Ruth Valerio, social activist, environmentalist and theologian
Professor Katherine Willis, Professor of Biodiversity at Oxford and former Director of Science at Kew Gardens
Professor Myles Allen, Professor of Geosystem Science, Oxford and Head of the Climate Dynamics Group in the University's Department of Physics. Professor Allen also leads the project.

Tickets are £5 for adults and £3 for students and under-16s. Book here.

Audience members are welcome to join Evensong at 5.30pm, ahead of the Conversations, or to stay for Compline afterwards in the Chapter House.

For any other enquiries, contact Marie Thomas at Salisbury Cathedral via or 01722 555148.

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