YorkTalks Session Three

1.45pm, National Science Learning Centre

EU migrant benefit cuts: the pillory, the precipice and the slippery slope with EU migrants at the top of the political agenda, Charlotte O’Brien reveals the painful, human tragedy behind the headlines and the Government’s clampdown on so-called benefit tourists. A specialist in European law and a frontline advocate for human rights, Charlotte has seen first-hand what the reality is like for people who come to Britain in search of work and a better life. She makes a powerful case that the British government is in breach of its legal and humanitarian obligations and that those most affected by the cuts are women and children. The bigger tragedy, she says, is that so few people are speaking out.

Waging peace: in search of lasting agreements  – separatist conflicts since the end of the Cold War have produced casualties in the millions. In Bosnia alone it is estimated that more than 97,000 people lost their lives in three years of bloodletting. Most of the victims were civilians. Such statistics make it clear that understanding how to make peace has never been more vital. Conflict expert Nina Caspersen draws on her study of close to 20 peace agreements around the world – from Mindanao to the Middle East – to provide negotiators with insights into the essential ingredients of a good peace agreement, what to avoid, and what happens when you get it wrong. 

The route to a more equal society – political philosopher Martin O’Neill investigates the idea that market reforms could be used to encourage a more equal distribution of economic power and rewards. He shows how debate about the idea of ‘predistribution’ connects to the neglected work of the Nobel prize-winning economist James Meade, who championed the idea of what he called a ‘property-owning democracy’. Meade's theory was conceived as a stage in the development of social democracy beyond the welfare state and has relevance for today’s political debates about creating a more equal and just society. 

We regret to announce that the train… Government predictions that the multi-billion pound HS2 high-speed rail link between London and the North of England will be delivered on time and provide value for money are scrutinised by mathematical economist Jacco Thijssen. Drawing on the Government’s own data and forecasts, he has developed a bespoke mathematical model which shows it is unlikely there will be a good time start the project in the next decade. This is a fascinating insight into the world of applied mathematics and innovative research which is far in advance of models currently being used in industry and government.


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