Festival of Ideas - including the Caritas Lecture 2015

Festival of Ideas - including the Caritas Lecture 2015

Published on 28 August 2015

Festival of Ideas - What are we doing here?A series of lectures and seminars given by distinguished visiting speakers and staff of George Watson’s College all of whom will address the question “What Are We Doing Here?” in their own individual way.

Members of the public interested in attending these events should contact Senior School Reception. 

Tickets for the Caritas Lecture will also be available from Senior School Reception. 

Programme of Events

Thursday 10 September, 12.45pm

Philip Larkin Was Here
Melvyn Roffe , Principal of George Watson’s College

Lecture Theatre
Melvyn Roffe became Principal of George Watson’s College in 2014. He studied English at the University of York where he knew someone who had met Philip Larkin and had a conversation with him about car parking.

Tuesday 15 September, 12.45pm

What is Jackson Pollock Doing Here?
Dr Andrew Watson, Assistant Principal Teacher of Art, George Watson’s College
Art Lecture Theatre

Andrew Watson studied at Edinburgh College of Art and completed a doctorate in History of Art at Aberdeen University. In 2005 he undertook studies in Philosophy of Art and received the Associate Award from the International Society for Philosophers. He regularly writes and lectures on 19th-century British collecting of French art and has published articles in major academic journals, including those of the Louvre and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and has lectured at the Burrell and Wallace Collections and the National Gallery of Scotland. In 2010 he published a book about the Glasgow sugar refiner, philanthropist and art collector, James Duncan. He has been guest editor for the Journal of the Scottish Society for Art History and a Director of Leith School of Art, Edinburgh.

Thursday 17 September, 12.45pm

Anton Chekhov’s ‘The Cherry Orchard’ and the Role of Literature in Mediating Our Reality
Dr Linda Mackenney, Head of English, George Watson’s College
Lecture Theatre

Linda Mackenney has taught at the School for 20 years. Before becoming a teacher, she was a theatrical researcher, archivist and freelance arts administrator. She has published a book and several articles on Scottish theatre in the 20th century. She is currently directing the S6 production of Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard.

Tuesday 22 September, 12.45pm

What Are We Doing Here?
Professor Mona Siddiqui, Professor of Islamic and Interreligious Studies, University of Edinburgh
Blair Morrison Library

Mona Siddiqui joined the University of Edinburgh’s Divinity School in December 2011 as the first person to hold a chair in Islamic and Interreligious Studies. Prior to this she worked at Glasgow University directing the Centre for the Study of Islam. She has held visiting professorships at several Dutch and American universities in addition to a Humanitas Professorship at Cambridge University in 2014. 

She is well known internationally as a public intellectual and a speaker on issues around religion, ethics and public life. She is a regular commentator in the media, known especially for her appearances on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio Scotland’s Thought for the Day. In 2012, she appeared as a guest on Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs and in July 2015 was a guest on BBC Radio 3’s Private Passions. In 2015, she was named in the Debrett’s top 500 list of the most influential people in the UK. In 2016, she will give the Gifford lectures at the University of Aberdeen.

Tuesday 22 September, 7.30pm

The Caritas Lecture 2015 – What Are We Doing Here?
Dr Brandon Carter FRS
Assembly Hall (TICKETED EVENT)

Dr Brandon Carter was born in Sydney, Australia in 1942 and was a pupil at George Watson’s College from 1954 to 1959. He went on to study ‘Natural Philosophy’ (Physics) at the University of St Andrews and Mathematics at Pembroke College, Cambridge. He graduated as PhD in 1968. In 1975 he moved to France to work in the Paris Observatory at Meudon and was appointed Research Director in 1986. He retired with the status of Research Director Emeritus in 2009. Amongst Dr Carter’s achievements has been pioneering research on black holes, the mechanics of neutron star crusts and the formulation of the ‘anthropic principle’. He is famous for the so-called Doomsday Argument which he first developed in 1983 and which is sometimes known as the ‘Carter Catastrophe’. This is a probabilistic argument that proposes that there is a 95% chance of that the human race will be extinct within 9,120 years.
Dr Carter was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1981.

Tuesday 29 September, 12.45pm

What Are We Doing Here?
Tommy Sheridan, Former Scottish Socialist MSP
Blair Morrison Library

Tommy Sheridan was MSP for Glasgow between 1999 and 2007 and has been a columnist for the Daily Record and Sunday Herald. He was imprisoned for perjury in 2010 after a high profile criminal case involving a libel action against the defunct News of the World newspaper. Tommy Sheridan has been a member of Labour, the Scottish Socialist Party and formed the left-wing party Solidarity in 2006.

Thursday 1 October, 12.45pm

What Are Evolutionary Biologists Doing Here?
Geoff Morgan
Head of Biology, George Watson’s College
Lecture Theatre

Growing up in rural North Wales he was surrounded by the natural world and developed a life-long fascination for wildlife. With a keen interest in birds, behavioural ecology and evolution, he studied Zoology at St John’s College, Oxford. A period working as a writer and editor of a wide range of life science publications led to a move to Edinburgh and a change of career. Geoff has now been a Biology Teacher at Watson’s for 17 years and has written an Advanced Higher Biology textbook. During an 18-month secondment to the Scottish Qualifications Authority he was instrumental in the redesign and rewriting of the new Higher and Advanced Higher Biology courses. On a more important note Geoff has seen over 10% of species of birds on the planet, and counting.

Thursday 5 November, 1.15pm

">What Are We Doing Here?
Professor AC Grayling MA DPhil (Oxon) FRSL FRSA 
Master of New College of the Humanities
Music School

Anthony Grayling is Master of the New College of the Humanities and a Supernumerary Fellow of St Anne’s College, Oxford. Until 2011 he was Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London. He has written and edited over 30 books on philosophy and other subjects; among his most recent are The Good Book, Ideas That Matter, Liberty in the Age of Terror and To Set Prometheus Free. For several years he wrote the Last Word column for the Guardian newspaper and a column for the Times. He is a frequent contributor to the Literary Review, Observer, Independent on Sunday, Times Literary Supplement, Index on Censorship and New Statesman, and is an equally frequent broadcaster on BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 3 and the World Service. He writes the Thinking Read column for the Barnes and Noble Review in New York, is the Editor of Online Review London, and a Contributing Editor of Prospect magazine.