The recent talk given by Jessica Beagley on the medical impacts of climate change was particularly interesting because she used various methods such as- statistics, illustrative diagrams and explanation of different tipping points such as the melting of Arctic Permafrost and the spread of Malaria throughout Europe- to convey how urgent the climate crisis that we are facing is. She proposed some methods of actions that we might consider taking. This can be done by starting to reduce our own Carbon footprint, think how to put a pressure on politicians and large organisations to reduce our overall effect on the environment. It is easy to realise that there are the many methods we could use, as well as innovations in technology such as sustainable electricity that would aid us in the fight against climate crisis.
Meeting with Dr Dannhauser definitely provided students with much interesting information about brain, attention and concentration. I found The Chimp Paradox particularly interesting. This is that we have a primitive system in the brain that we do not control; it is impulsive and drives survival instincts. An explanation that computer games are highly addictive because they stimulate instincts was especially noteworthy as it was the real-life application of scientific knowledge and theories. I think this William’s Project guest was particularly inspiring as he is a clinical psychiatrist, English is not his first language and he showed us how much effort he put to achieve his goals.
I found the recent Williams Project talk particularly captivating because it illustrated the importance of Mao Zedong’s communist career. Although previously, we have learnt about Mao only through his connection to Stalin in the cold war period, here we see that his disregard for ‘textbook communism’ has shaped the way China is governed today. Mao’s modern communist ideologies were extremely influential – so much so that when he died in 1976, it was felt across the globe. It was great to hear SOAS Senior Lecturer, Dr Laamann talk to us about a subject he has a passion for – and it will no doubt inspire us to do the same.
Prof Paul Russell, professor of Philosophy at Lund University and the University of British Columbia.
Dr John Sellars, Lecturer in Philosophy at Royal Holloway.
Surely, when we think of Emotions, we imagine the most intensive ones. And rightly so, Seneca claimed that emotions were “temporary madness”. Surely, when we think “stoic”, we imagine someone unfeeling, perhaps even unwell. This is how Dr Sellars started his presentation, not necessary wanting to provoke any reactions but wanting to share his learning from Stoics. In particular, the fact that emotions are a product of judgement. What he explained to us is that “pathe”is more accurate word for affection and passion, therefore not naturally controlled “emotions”. Dr Sellars suggested stoical solutions to how to manage our emotions. The audience was captivated and this was expressed in variety of questions: is there an end product for stoicism such it is eg. in buddhism? How long does it take to train yourself to be “virtuous” person? Can becoming rational reduce empathy? One might ask if we get our answers. To some extend whatever, one has taken from this lecture, it might bring some element of satisfaction, change of intentions or simply broaden our minds. It was an excellent lecture!
Mr Pepper using his own equipment illustrated the growing tension between music and socially low status of various disadvantaged groups in the USA in 1980s, such as Black Americans, LGBT people, Latinos. This helped the industrial music to emerge to demonstrate strong relation between machine and a man, which expressed itself in the development of the electronic pop. The controversy of the “oppressed” groups relieving their frustration and their need for change in music led to a moral panic in the Great Britain, particularly under the rule of Margaret Thatcher. This backlash against thatcherism was also an expression against the popular drive for consumerism, capitalist success and the productivity of individuals. Fascinating, how much we can learn from the simple movements on the floor and use of discarded industrial equipment.
Dr. Katya Rogatchevskaia from the British Library made a fantastic presentation on the dangers and intentions of the propaganda in general and using specific examples from Russia, ranging from the first time used it by the last Romanovs in 1900s to the current leaders of the Russian Federation. Various issues were raised by her critical approach, which was illustrating potential power of propaganda used by any regime or system to pass a message to targeted and receptive audience. She focused on Noam Chomsky’s “The 5 Filters of the Mass Media Machine” to explore factors behind the Propaganda; its authority, message (which is difficult to disagree with), and intentions, particularly with the usage of selected aesthetics.
Can something stop being a propaganda? What influences these changes in “unloading” the objects, buildings, piece of art from the intention to indoctrinate? How much do we need to know to understand the context of the time to read the message and to be bothered by it?
We are very grateful to Katya for the thought-provoking lecture, where we need to reassess our own critical and therefore independent thinking, which we apply or not to assess the credibility and intent of the messages and news selected and presented in current media.
It is difficult in the space of 1 hour to present hugely rich and complicated history of a country currently standing nearly 40 mln citizens. Dr Calma, from Polish Embassy has used several interesting maps to effectively show the ever-changing borders of Poland. Today almost mono-ethnic and predominantly Catholic, Poland was once a multi-cultural polity, inhabited by Poles, Ukrainians, Belarusians, Lithuanians, Jews, Tatars, Armenians and Germans. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, as it was called from the 16th to the late 18th century, was one of the earliest confederate countries in early modern Europe. As Dr Calma pointed out, for a long time, it also boasted a tolerant policy towards different ethnicities and faiths. It was fascinating for students to see many cultural and political links between Poland and Britain. Dr Calma talked with passion. Her presentation was followed by long discussion with some of our international boarders.