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How tolerant will future generations be?

Posted on 3 November 2003

Baroness Susan Greenfield, a leading science communicator and the first-ever woman director of the Royal Institution, is to speak at the University of York on Wednesday (November 5th).

Baroness Greenfield will be giving the J B & W B Morrell Memorial Address on toleration when she asks: 'Will future generations be more or less tolerant of individual weakness?'

Baroness Greenfield is Fullerian Professor of Physiology at the University of Oxford and a world expert on neuroscience. Her research addresses the questions of how the brain's components produce thoughts and emotions. She has written several best-selling books including 'The Private Life of the Brain,' written extensively for the press, and frequently appears on radio and TV.

Her most recent book is 'Tomorrow's People: How 21st-century Technology Is Changing the Way We Think and Feel'. In it she explores how the 'human nature' of future generations could be on course for a dramatic alteration, because the current revolution in biomedical science and information technologies will have a huge impact on our brains and central nervous system. She believes that the society in which future generations will live and the way they view themselves will be like nothing our species has yet experienced in the tens of thousands of years to date.

In 1998 she received the Michael Faraday medal from the Royal Society for her contribution to the public understanding of science and became a life peer in 2001.

The lecture is part of the Morrell Studies in Toleration programme which is based in the Politics Department at the University of York and aims to 'increase the philosophical and historical understanding and appreciation of toleration as an idea and as a practice'.

The lecture series has attracted a long list of illustrious speakers over the years including leading philosophers such as Friedrich Hayek and A J Ayer, former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr George Carey, Rabbi Julia Neuberger, and former Prime Minister Edward Heath.

Dr Matravers of the Morrell Programme said: "We're delighted that Baroness Greenfield is coming to speak. She's a leading scientist and an enthusiast to make her work understandable to the public. This will be a fascinating lecture."

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, is in the Physics Lecture Theatre P/XOO1 at 8pm.

Notes to editors:

  • The Morrell Studies in Toleration Project is the largest externally funded project of its kind. It includes the Address, a biennial conference, and funding for students on the world renowned MA in Political Philosophy (The Idea of Toleration).
  • The Department of Politics at York is one of the largest in the United Kingdom.
  • It has always offered its students a wide range of subjects for study, and an exceptionally high degree of choice.
  • The general quality of the research conducted was acknowledged in the last Research Assessment Exercise mounted by the Higher Education Funding Council, when the Department was ranked 'research excellent' (four out of five).
  • The Department was also recently ranked one of the top five politics departments in the UK by The Guardian newspaper.

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