One of the best things about the University of York is the opportunity to hear from some of the most intelligent people in the world. For example, Professor Amartya Sen spoke at the University this summer, a previous winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize. Sen argued that in order for societies to flourish, their constituents must first participate in active democratic deliberation. This is what higher education prepares us for: learning, sharing and critiquing ideas; questioning the status quo and pursuing the truth.
During the spring Dr Elliot Lee Major addressed the University, hosted by the Department of Education. Chief Executive of the Sutton Trust, a think-tank that seeks to promote social mobility through education, he told us about his upbringing, explained what his organisation does and highlighted research that has demonstrated that while just 7% of children attend independent schools, 75% of senior judges, 43% of newspaper columnists and 22% of pop stars have done so. This is something that as undergraduates, we are encouraged to question.
In addition to this, Professor Danny Dorling of the University of Oxford is coming to the University in January. He has recently published a book called Inequality and the 1%, has written for the Guardian, Independent and New Statesman, and has reviewed Dr Paul Wakeling’s work in the Times Higher Education magazine, a sociologist of higher education in the University of York’s Department of Education. This is a chance not just to hear from Dorling, but to question him.
Professor Sugata Mutra of the University of Newcastle is also going to be speaking at the University next term. He is someone that has argued that in the age of the internet, old methods of teaching and learning are becoming useless, and that new, flexible and independent methods should be promoted. Does this mean that teachers are becoming obsolete?
Students themselves also bring in interesting people to the University. For example, the York Union have hosted politicians such as Alan Johnson, Dominic Grieve and Frank Field, as well as writers such as Francis Beckett, an award-winning historian and ex-education correspondent for the New Statesman, Michael White, associate editor of the Guardian, and Peter Oborne, associate editor of the Spectator.
The point is that, at the University of York, you are not just taught by the people that wrote the book, but encouraged to think with an independent mind and engage in civic participation. Experts from all around the world come prepared to share their ideas with students. Students who question. Students who want to change the world. Students who understand that it is only through rigorous, democratic deliberation that the world can become a fairer, more sustainable place.
Come and join us!