We’re living in an age of polarity where many communities are feeling more and more divided and the consequent insecurities are evident in so many areas of modern life.
Then there’s the paradox of digital hyperconnectivity - we can be ‘connected’ 24/7 yet loneliness is endemic
All of this against a backdrop of increasingly populist politics
which rather than seeking to bridge these polarities, risk dividing us even further.
But, as Jo Cox MP said in her maiden speech to Parliament, 'We Are Far More United Than The Things That Divide Us'
So this year we have chosen to focus on making connections and building bridges. Our theme is CONNECT
Speakers may not be confirmed. Check event website for more information.
Ambassador for Storybook DadsAlan Crickmore is married with adult children. He practised Law for over thirty years before being sent to prison for a lengthy term. In prison he developed new skills and was active in Prison Education assisting in the teaching of English and Maths to prisoners of limited ability and experience. Recently Alan began to work for Storybook Dads, a charity whose objects include the promotion of family ties between prisoners and their children. Since his release from prison Alan has continued to work for Storybook Dads from home and is an ambassador for the charity. Alan lives in Gloucestershire with his wife and Teddy, their Lakeland Terrier.
Campaigners for Kids Against PlasticAmy and Ella Meek founded their campaign Kids Against Plastic in 2016 after learning about the UN’s Global Goals and taking seriously the need for everyone to do their bit. They realised plastic was a double-edged sword: a magnificent invention, but also an enormous environmental monster in waiting. So they decided to act, and over the last two years have worked hard to inspire school children, engage politicians, business leaders and academics, and to motivate families, cafés, businesses and people to become Plastic Clever.
Researcher at the RSAAnthony Painter leads the award winning Action and Research Centre at the Royal Society of Arts, and its three teams focusing on economy, education, public services and communities. His own research focuses on a range of policy issues including the impact of new technology on the economy and society, and institutional change. He is author of three books, most recently “Left without a future? Social Justice in anxious times” and a number of high impact policy and research reports such as “Creative citizen, creative state: the principled and pragmatic case for a Universal Basic Income”.
Author & ModeratorRafida Bonya Ahmed is a published author, moderator at Mukto-mona blog, the first online platform for Bengali speaking freethinkers, and has been a Visiting Research Scholar at UT Austin since 2016, working on the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. Bonya is the widow of Avijit Roy, a well-known writer, blogger, and activist who founded Mukto-mona. Avijit was murdered when they were attacked by Islamists during a book signing trip to Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2015. Bonya was gravely injured during the attack.
Scientific AdviserCóilín Nunan is the scientific adviser to the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics, an alliance of health, medical, environmental and animal-welfare groups working to stop the overuse of antibiotics in livestock farming. He has co-authored numerous reports on antibiotic resistance and antibiotic residues that highlight the human health impact of excessive antibiotic use in intensive livestock farming. This work aims to encourage a move to more responsible use of antibiotics in farming, through better regulation and improvements in production systems, which would also improve animal health and welfare.
Dawn Faizey Webster
PhD candidateDawn Faizey Webster is a postgraduate researcher at York University, currently researching a PhD in Architectural History, having completed a degree in Ancient History and a Master’s in History of Art with the Open University. She worked as a computer science teacher at a Grammar School in the Midlands until she suffered a brainstem stroke, resulting in her developing Locked-In Syndrome. Undaunted, Dawn has pursued her academic career relentlessly, communicating with the world by blinking. She has brought up her teenaged son, and has an unquenchable love for heavy metal music, Monty Python and trivia of all kinds (and that really means all kinds).
Barrister, Judge and researcher at Cambridge & HarvardDexter Dias QC is an award-winning international human rights barrister, part-time judge and prize-winning researcher at Cambridge and Harvard. His areas of specialism include: terrorism, female genital mutilation, gender and honour-based violence, human trafficking and modern slavery, child soldiering, domestic violence and children in the criminal justice system. He has been instrumental in changing the law to better protect girls at risk of gender-based violence. During the last 25 years, Dexter has been involved in some of the biggest legal cases involving human rights, murder, crimes against humanity, terrorism, war crimes, contentious custodial deaths and genocide.
Editor of Cosmopolitan & AuthorFarrah Storr is the award-winning editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine. She took over the brand in 2015 where she was tasked with reimagining it for the millennial woman, subsequently increasing circulation by an unprecedented 59%. Over her 17-year career as a journalist Farrah has done everything from undercover investigations in the world of cut-price cosmetic surgery to reporting from inside some of the world’s most luxurious fashion houses. She was also the founding editor-in-chief of Women’s Health magazine – the most successful women’s magazine launch of the decade. In 2017 Farrah was cited as one of only 36 BAME leaders in The Guardian & Operation Black Votes UK’s 1000 Most Powerful list. She will release her first book in September 2018 on the power of discomfort, published by Piatkus.
MusiciansGlass Parachutes are Fionn Connolly, Finlay Stafford, David Nunn, and Freddie Redding, an Alternative band based in Cambridge. Their singles Midas and Overthinker will be released soon. Glass Parachutes grew from the solo project of frontman Fionn Connolly, who has volunteered and performed in the Great Hall at TEDxExeter since 2012. His solo album “Lyra, Lyra” is available on iTunes and Spotify.
Poet, Writer, EducatorJJ Bola, Writer, Poet and Educator. He has written three poetry collections, and is the debut author of No Place to Call Home.
Founder and Director of UnseenKate Garbers is a founder and director of Unseen, a charity that provides safety, hope and choice to survivors of human trafficking and modern slavery. As well as providing 24/7 supported safe accommodation for survivors and the UK’s National Modern Slavery Helpline, Unseen works to raise awareness of this crime. Kate has spent the last ten years working directly with survivors, law enforcement agencies and governments to work out how we can effectively tackle the issue of trafficking and slavery.
Saville Row Tailor, TV presenter & Honorary ProfessorPatrick Grant is a regular media commentator on fashion, clothing and textiles. After leaving a career in engineering, he took over as director of Savile Row tailor Norton & Sons. Patrick was named Menswear Designer of the Year at the 2010 British Fashion Awards. In 2015, he purchased ailing Blackburn clothing manufacturer Cookson & Clegg, saving the factory from closure. This was followed by the launch of Community Clothing, a social enterprise with a mission to sustain and create jobs in the UK textile and garment manufacturing industry. Patrick is a regular lecturer at schools and colleges, and an honorary professor at Glasgow Caledonian University’s School of Business and Society.
Deaf Awareness AmabassadorRebekah Afari was born profoundly deaf and comes from a hearing family. Her first language is British Sign Language. Rebekah is passionate about deaf issues, having faced many challenges herself, and hopes to increase awareness of the barriers deaf people face, aspiring for equality in a hearing world. During her early teens, she was a member of the youth advisory board of the National Deaf Children’s Society. She is currently seeking employment, having recently completed a BTEC level 3 media course in Exeter, where she was the only deaf student on her course. Rebekah enjoys a variety of sports, cooking, reading novels and filmmaking.
Professor of Cognitive NeuroscienceSophie Scott is a Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at UCL, where she is Deputy Director of the Institute for Cognitive Neuroscience and group leader for the Speech Communication Lab. She had a Wellcome Trust Career Development Fellowship from 2001 to 2004, and a Wellcome Trust Senior Fellowship from 2005 to 2016. Her research addresses the neurobiological basis of verbal and non-verbal aspects of vocal communication. She pioneered the study of the human voice as a social signal, and has recently started to address the ways that non-verbal emotional expressions like laughter are used socially. She was the 2017 Royal Institution Christmas Lecturer.
Barber & Lions Barber Collective FounderTom Chapman is a Torquay-based barber who has made it his mission to propel the stigma of mental ill health among men into the mainstream. In 2015 founded the Lions Barber Collective, an international group of barbers who have undergone training in how to recognise symptoms of mental ill health in clients and signpost them to relevant support services. The group helps to raise awareness of mental illness and aims to prevent suicide by creating training that enables barbers to recognise, talk and listen out for symptoms of depression.
Professor of Organisational Behaviour at Ashridge Executive EducationVicki Culpin is Professor of Organisational Behaviour at Ashridge Executive Education, part of Hult International Business School. She is passionate about well-being and has spent over 15 years researching this topic with a variety of individuals, including forensic populations and employees. She is often featured on radio and in print media across the world. Her latest book, The Business of Sleep, is published by Bloomsbury. Vicki is an associate fellow of the British Psychological Society, a chartered psychologist and a fellow of the Higher Education Academy.