05 Feb 2012: Academy of Ideas & Unilever Debating Matters Global Development Debates
Students come together in special showcase event at Unilever to debate global development
At a time of great anxiety and confusion about the future direction of the world, there are important debates to be had about how to improve our lives – from how to employ science and technology to best effect, to different models of economic growth. In the midst of economic turmoil for many countries, rapid growth for some and slow or even negative growth for others, the seventh billionth person joined the human population. Some have celebrated the scientific and social advances that have enabled the human race to thrive on its ingenuity and capacity for innovation, whilst others are concerned about the destructive aspects of humanity in relation to the depletion of natural resources and pollution that threatens the sustainability of existence as our population continues to grow.
But which way now? Many have questioned the sustainability of the Western economic model, raising questions about short-termism, consumerism, a narrow pursuit of profit to please the markets, and the wisdom of measuring prosperity in terms of GDP. On the other hand, the drive for growth and the emphasis on innovation and renewal required to achieve it, deliver important benefits for human existence. The evidence and arguments are complex, contradictory and difficult – but need to be worked through and debated vigorously. The Academy of Ideas and Unilever Debating Matters Global Development Debates will provide six schools with the opportunity to do just that.
Miguel Pestana, Vice-President Global External Affairs at Unilever says of the event:
“Unilever is proud to support this Debating Matters special event as a means of helping to raise awareness and encourage debate of complex issues which confront our society and with which we as a business also seek to grapple with on a daily basis.”
Six specially invited teams from schools from London and the Home Counties will debate the following motions:
- Supermarkets are bad for local communities
- Governments should stop supporting the biofuels industry
- Social media is rejuvenating political protest
- Population growth and rising living standards are unsustainable
Invited guest judges from business, media, arts and science will be challenging the debaters to think deeply about the issues the debates pose, and to rise to the challenge of thinking about the world around them.
Tony Gilland, director of Debating Matters, said:
“We are delighted to be partnering with Unilever to provide this opportunity to sixth-form students to debate these pressing questions. By examining the complexity of these issues, and getting behind the media headlines, we hope all involved will develop a more thorough appreciation of these debates. Good luck to all the teams.”