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Durham Castle Lecture Series

Castle Lecture Videos 2014/15

Carol Ann Duffy, Poet Laureate, playwright and Professor of Contemporary Poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University

Poetry Reading by the Poet Laureate

Carol Ann Duffy is Professor of Contemporary Poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University, and was appointed Britain's poet laureate in May 2009. She is the first woman, the first Scot, and the first openly LGBT person to hold the position. Her collections include Standing Female Nude (1985), winner of a Scottish Arts Council Award; Selling Manhattan (1987), which won a Somerset Maugham Award; Mean Time (1993), which won the Whitbread Poetry Award; and Rapture (2005), winner of the T. S. Eliot Prize. Her poems address issues such as oppression, gender, and violence, in an accessible language that has made them popular in schools.

Watch a film of Carol Ann Duffy

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Professor Lord Anthony Giddens, Former Director of the London School of Economics, and Emeritus Professor of Sociology, London School of Economics

"Between Immortality and Armageddon: Living in a High Opportunity, High Risk Society"

Lord Giddens is a British sociologist who is know for his theory of structuration and his holistic view of modern societies. He is considered to be on the the most prominent modern sociologists. He is the author of at least 34 books, published in at least 29 languates, issuing on average more than one book every year. In 2007, Giddens was listed as the fifth most-referenced author of books in the humanities.

Watch a film of Lord Giddens Lecture
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Dr Navanethem 'Navi' Pillay, Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Former Judge of ICC, and Former Judge President of ICTR

"The Work of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Advancing the Protection of Human Rights"

In recent times there has been great awareness of human rights all over the world, as well as a clamour for rights, both civil and political; and economic, social and cultural. In light of raging conflicts, massive crimes and displacement of populations, some question the relevance of human rights to finding solutions. How can the United Nations, its human rights mechanisms, and all of us as individuals, help to advance the realization of human rights?

Watch a film of Dr Pillay's lecture
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Professor Simon Critchley, Hans Jonas Professor, New School of Social Research, New York

"Suicide - A Defence"

I have a very simple idea: to write a philosophical defense of the right to suicide in the attempt to get us all to think more clearly, more soberly and less hypocritically about the perennial question: should I live or die? The legal frameworks that define suicide are still hostage to a Christian metaphysics that declares that life is a gift of God and therefore to take your own life is a sin. In killing oneself, it is claimed that one is assuming a power over one’s existence that only God should have. In the contemporary world, the state has taken the place of God and suicide is either deemed illegal or regarded as a kind of moral embarrassment. We think it is wrong without knowing why.

Watch a film of Prof Critchley's lecture
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Owen Jones, Commentator, Columnist for The Guardian and Author of 'Chavs' and 'The Establishment: and how they get away with it'. 

"The Establishment: and how they get away with it"

In 2011, Jones published his first book, Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class, which discusses stereotypes of sections of the British working class and use of the pejorative term 'chav'. The book received attention in domestic and international media, including selection by The New York Times as one of its top 10 non-fiction books of 2011 and being long-listed for the Guardian First Book Award. The Independent on Sunday newspaper named Jones as one of their top 50 Britons of 2011, for the manner in which the book raised the profile of class-based issues. Jones has written a second book, The Establishment and How They Get Away With It, which was published in September 2014.

Watch a film of Owen Jones' Lecture

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Dr Ha Joon Chang, Reader at Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge

“Economics and Public Life: Why everyone needs to learn (some) economics”

In this lecture, drawing on his latest best-selling book, Economics: The User's Guide, Chang argues how economics is not a science, as many economists claim it to be. He emphasises how economics is an inherently political subject, as its early name, political economy, suggest. This implies, he argues, that there is a need - or even a duty - on the part of any responsible citizen to learn some economics and engage with debates on economic issues.

Watch a film of Dr Chang's Lecture

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Dr Rowan Williams, Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge and Former Archbishop of Canterbury

"The Tree of Knowledge: Bodies, Minds and Thoughts"

The lecture looks at what we mean when we claim to ‘know’ the world, and suggests that we have narrowed down what knowledge means and need to recover a fuller perspective.’ Dr Williams is an Anglican bishop, poet and theologian. He was the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, Metropolitan of the Province of Canterbury and Primate of All England, offices he held from December 2002 to December 2012. Williams was previously Bishop of Monmouth and Archbishop of Wales, making him the first Archbishop of Canterbury in modern times not to be appointed from within the Church of England.

Watch a film of Dr Williams' lecture

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Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell-Burnell, Visiting Professor, Astrophysics, University of Oxford

"The Universe and Us"

Professor Bell-Burnell is a Northern Irish astrophysicist. As a postgraduate student, she discovered the first radio pulsars while studying and advised by her thesis supervisor Antony Hewish, for which Hewish shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with Martin Ryle, while Bell Burnell was excluded, despite having observed the pulsars. Bell Burnell was President of the Royal Astronomical Society from 2002 to 2004, president of the Institute of Physics from October 2008 until October 2010, and was interim president following the death of her successor, Marshall Stoneham, in early 2011. The paper announcing the discovery of pulsars had five authors. Hewish's name was listed first, Bell's second. Hewish was awarded the Nobel Prize, along with Martin Ryle, without the inclusion of Bell as a co-recipient. Many prominent astronomers expressed outrage at this omission, including Sir Fred Hoyle. Dr. Iosif Shklovsky, recipient of the 1972 Bruce Medal, had sought out Bell at the 1970 International Astronomical Union's General Assembly, to tell her: "Miss Bell, you have made the greatest astronomical discovery of the twentieth century."

Watch a film of Prof Dame Bell-Burnell's lecture here.

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Professor Stephen Whittle, Professor of Equalities Law at Manchester Metropolitan University.

"Gender: What Future does it have?"

Professor Whittle OBE is Professor of Equalities Law at Manchester Metropolitan University. Aged 19, Stephen helped set up the UK’s first local transgender support group in 1975, the same year he transitioned to living as a man. Throughout the 70s and 80s having lost numerous jobs because of being trans, he decided things would only change if trans people became lawyers. He qualified in law in 1990. In 1989. In 1992, Stephen was a co-founder of Press For Change (PFC), the UK's transgender lobbying group. PFC successfully fought cases at the European Court of Human Rights, the Court of Justice and the UK’s House of Lords, for trans people to gain anti-discrimination protection, health care access, and later legal recognition through the Gender Recognition Act 2004. In 2010, PFC also achieved full equality protection for trans people under the UK’s Equality Laws.

Stephen has been an advisor to the UK, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Hong Kong and South African governments & the European Union, the Council of Europe & the European Commission. He advises lawyers and regularly writes court briefs, or is frequently an expert witness in courts across the world.

Watch a film of Professor Whittle's lecture here

Professor Thomas Weiss, Director Emeritus of the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies, Presidential Professor of Political Science at The Graduate Center, CUNY (The City University of New York), and Research Professor at SOAS, University of London.

"Humanitarian Intervention and Business: A Tale of Ethical Quandaries"

Understanding the ongoing transformations in contemporary humanitarian action in war zones requires examining the nature and evolution of humanitarian culture -its values, language, behavior. The move is away from an agreed culture of cooperation to a contested one of competition as a result of militarization, politicization, and marketization. What is necessary is a "learning culture" of responsible reflection rather than rapid reaction.

Thomas G. Weiss is Presidential Professor of Political Science at The CUNY Graduate Center and Director Emeritus (2001-14) of the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies; he is also research professor at SOAS, University of London. Past president of the International Studies Association (2009-10), Chair of the Academic Council on the UN System (2006-9), editor of Global Governance (2000-5), and Research Director of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, he has written extensively about multilateral approaches to international peace and security, humanitarian action, and sustainable development. His latest authored volumes include: Governing the World? Addressing "Problems without Passports" (2014); The United Nations and Changing World Politics (2014); Global Governance: Why? What? Whither? (2013); Humanitarian Business (2013); What’s Wrong with the United Nations and How to Fix It (2012); Humanitarian Intervention: Ideas in Action (2012); Thinking about Global Governance: People and Ideas Matter (2011); Humanitarianism Contested: Where Angels Fear to Tread (2011); Global Governance and the UN: An Unfinished Journey (2010); and UN Ideas That Changed the World (2009).