About drsophiaprice

Head of Politics and International Relations at Leeds Beckett University

Leeds Beckett University Festival of Politics & International Relations 2019. 18-22 November

The annual Festival, organised by the University’s Politics & International Relations academic group, is a week of talks, discussions and debates on a range of social, political and economic issues – contemporary and historical, national and global – involving a range of invited speakers (politicians, journalists, campaigners, academics) as well as members of the Politics & IR group at the university. Events are open to school students and the wider public and free to attend.


Full programme, updates and details on registration are available here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/festival-of-politics-and-international-relations-2019-tickets-77797625793

Confirmed sessions / speakers so far:

  • Alex Sobel MP (Leeds NW) on the climate crisis.
  • Rachel Reeves MP (Leeds West) will discuss her recent book Women of Westminster https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/women-of-westminster-9781788312202/.
  • Corbynism and Left Populism – Jonathan Dean (University of Leeds) and Joseph Ibrahim (Leeds Beckett University).
  • Punam Yadav (UCL Centre for Gender and Disaster) on gender, conflict, development and peacebuilding.
  • What is truth? Are we living in an era of post-truth politics? – Tom Houseman and Paul Wetherly (Leeds Beckett University)
  • From Human Trafficking to Modern Slavery: Policy development in the UK – Rose Broad,  School of Law, University of Manchester


For more information contact Paul Wetherly p.wetherly@leedsbeckett.ac.uk

Festival of Politics and IR 2018

Leeds Beckett University

12-16 November 

… talks, debates, workshops, films and other events …

… argument and discussion on a range of social, political and economic issues – contemporary and historical, national and global…

… a range of speakers including politicians, academics and campaigners …

… events are open to the public …


The Politics of Play: Wargaming with the US military

Marx@200 – What relevance does Marx have today?

Lehman Brothers collapse – 10 Years On

Challenging economic and social injustice

Free speech, bias and the university

Overcoming the politics of hate

• Brexit: Where Now?

• Labour’s Peace Doctrine

Our annual Festival of Politics & International Relations will run from 12-16 November at our city site. There will be talks and discussions throughout the week that are open to school students and the public featuring a range of speakers.

You will soon be able to see the full programme for the Festival and register by going to


Look out for further announcements – coming here soon

Leeds Beckett University

School of Social Sciences


Politics & International Relations Summer School

12-13 July 2018

Day 1 Thursday 12 July
0930 -1015 Arrival / Welcome/ Introduction to the programme
1015-1130 Session 1

Political parties and ideologies – no more governing from the centre? Left, right and the rise of populism

(Dr Paul Wetherly)


1130-1145 Break


1145-1300 Session 2

How do we think about peace? How the different views from the outside and inside of a conflict help us to understand peace.

(Dr Rachel Julian)

1300-1345 Lunch
1345-1500 Session 3

Why we disagree about Climate Change

(Dr John Willott)

1500 End
Day 2 Friday 13 July
0930-0945 Arrival / Welcome
0945-1100 Session 4

Understanding political economy – the relationship between ‘politics’ and ‘economics’

(Dr Tom Houseman)

1100-1115 Break
1115-1230 Session 5

Experiencing War

(Dr Maria O’Reilly)

1230-1315 Lunch
1315-1430 Session 6

Brexit: how did we get here, and where next?

(Dr Sophia Price )

1430-1500 Summing Up / Evaluation / Any Questions?


Session 1

Political parties and ideologies – no more governing from the centre? Left, right and the rise of populism

(Dr Paul Wetherly)

Aim: In this session we will examine recent developments in the political landscape of Britain in terms of ideological debate and party competition

In recent years much of what had seemed stable in politics in Britain and elsewhere, and much conventional political wisdom, has been shaken up by unexpected developments and outcomes, including: the impact of ‘outsiders’ from the left and right, populist and ‘extremist’ ideology gaining ground, growing support for politics of identity and belonging, emergence of new political divisions based on age and education, the unexpected Brexit vote and Trump victory, the eruption of a so-called ‘youthquake’.

In order to understand these developments we need to think about the nature of ideology, the drivers of ideological debate, the role of ideology in politics, and the link between ideological debate and party competition

Key terms: ideology, two-party system, populism, elite, left & right, centre ground, outsiders, youthquake, left-behind

Find out more

‘Tony Blair admits he is baffled by rise of Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn’, The Guardian, 23 February 2016. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/feb/23/tony-blair-bernie-sanders-jeremy-corbyn

‘Only respect for the ‘left behind’ can turn the populist tide’, The Guardian, 28 September 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/sep/28/far-right-rightwing-nationalism-populist

‘Make no mistake – right-wing populism is making a resurgence in Europe, as the Italian elections show’, The Independent, 5 March 2018. https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/editorials/italy-election-results-populsim-resurgence-europe-anti-eu-silvio-berlusconi-5-star-movement-luigi-di-a8240861.html

‘New centrist party gets £50m backing to ‘break mould’ of UK politics’, The Observer, 8 April 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/apr/07/new-political-party-break-mould-westminster-uk-brexit


Session 2

How do we think about peace? How the different views from the outside and inside of a conflict help us to understand peace.

(Dr Rachel Julian)

Aim: In this session, we will explore how different ideas of peace influence government and community activity.

The idea of peace is often presented as ‘something that everybody wants’, but this masks our very different ideas of what peace actually is. For some it means being a peaceful person and acting in ways which promote living peacefully with others, or it can mean the relationships between people in your neighbourhood are mainly peaceful – which could include looking after one another and coming together as a community. For others peace is connected to security, and military security, where threats are from outside and they want a stronger defence force that can ‘keep the peace’. Around the world some people, sadly, live with the everyday threat of violence and war, so we need to think about what peace means for them, as well as us.

Key terms: peace, security, military, nonviolence, community, diversity, neighbourhood, government, individual.

Find out more

Peace Writ Large: peace building works, but we may need to shout about it more by Phil Vernon



The incredible life of Nobel Peace Prize Winner Malala



Mothers against violence



7 ways to build peace in your community



Session 3

Why we disagree about Climate Change

(Dr John Willott)



Aim: In this session we will think about Climate Change and our response to it. What should we make of the ‘debate’ about climate change, and assertions such as ‘there is a 97% consensus’ among scientists that it is real? Science doesn’t normally work this way, so what is it about climate change that is different? What should we make of ‘sceptics’ and ‘deniers’?

To understand these ideas we need to think about political ideologies and vested interests, but also understand something about human psychology and even the nature of knowledge, and how we understand our world. We will think about whether ‘science’ is the same as ‘social science’ and if we can use the same tools to understand them.

Key terms: Climate change; risk; social and natural sciences; psychology; beliefs; evidence; methods

Find out more

‘Which works better: climate fear, or climate hope? Well, it’s complicated’ The Guardian 4 January 2018 https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jan/04/climate-fear-or-hope-change-debate

‘Deniers club: Meet the people clouding the climate change debate’ Washington Post September 16, 2016 https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/09/16/deniers-club-meet-the-people-clouding-the-climate-change-debate/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.518f57454c6f

Why do some people think climate change is a hoax? Debating Europe 30/11/2017 http://www.debatingeurope.eu/2017/11/30/why-do-some-people-think-climate-change-is-a-hoax/#.WtXOsojwaHs


Session 4

Understanding political economy – the relationship between ‘politics’ and ‘economics’

(Dr Tom Houseman)


Aims: Traditionally, economics and politics have been thought of as separate and different spheres of social life. However, this separation is increasingly difficult to defend, in the light of the highly visible interconnections between money and power, politicians and business interests, and political and economic crises. Politics and Economics, as academic disciplines, have developed tools to analyse only one half of this separation, and so have struggled to explain the interconnections. Political Economy, by contrast, is an intellectual tradition that has sought to understand the political and economic together, as parts of the same thing. This requires challenging parts of our ‘common sense’ about how society works. This session explores some key ideas in Political Economy and how it can change the way we think about the hidden connections between apparently disconnected phenomena.

Key terms: political economy, capitalism, the politics of the market, power, self-interest, exploitation, technology, everyday life.

Find out more:

International Political Economy of Everyday Life (I-PEEL): http://i-peel.org/

Nick Hopkins and Helena Bengtsson (2017) ‘What are the Paradise Papers and what do they tell us?’, The Guardian 5th November 2017: https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/nov/05/what-are-the-paradise-papers-and-what-do-they-tell-us

Heidi Blake et al (2018) ‘The UK Refused To Raid A Company Suspected Of Money Laundering, Citing Its Tory Donations’, Buzzfeed News 19th April 2018 https://www.buzzfeed.com/heidiblake/uk-refused-to-raid-lycamobile-citing-its-tory-donations?utm_term=.ccP5zXkGk#.uk3AkYowo

Mark Dearn (2017) ‘If we sign up to the TTIP trade deal with Trump, the first thing to be sold off to US corporations will be the NHS’, The Independent 17th January 2017: https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/donald-trump-trade-deal-brexit-theresa-may-ttip-nhs-sold-off-american-us-corporations-a7531111.html


Session 5

Experiencing War

(Dr Maria O’Reilly)


Aim: How do we understand war? Whose lives and stories should we focus on, to help us comprehend the nature and meaning of armed conflict? Conventional histories of war often provide ‘top-down’ analyses, which concentrate on the decisions made by political leaders, or focus on the strategies and tactics used by military officials. Examining the behaviour of these elite individuals and groups, we are told, is essential for understanding the causes and consequences of armed conflict.


In this session, we will challenge traditional studies of war – by beginning not with states, militaries, their battle plans or weaponry, but instead exploring war from the ‘bottom-up’. We will look at personal experiences of children who have lived through war, and examine how their insights can help us to better understand the everyday realities of armed conflict. The session will explore the impact of war on young people, and will also examine the creative ways that young people often respond to cope with and confront the challenging circumstances of everyday life in conflict settings.


Key Terms:  armed conflict, diversity, difference, experience, top-down vs bottom-up analysis, violence, war


Find Out More

Rodolfo Toe (2016), Sarajevo Museum to Preserve Wartime Childhood Memories, Balkan Insight 13 May 2016 – http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/bosnian-museum-preserves-war-childhood-memories-05-11-2016


BBC (2016), Bosnia museum highlights childhood war experiences, 18 May 2016 – https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-news-from-elsewhere-36321736


Graca Machel (1996), The impact of armed conflict on children. UNICEF. https://www.unicef.org/graca/



Session 6

Brexit: how did we get here, and where next?

(Dr Sophia Price)


Aim: In this session we will examine the UK’s membership of the EU, the conditions that drove us to vote to Leave and difficulties the government face in delivering this. It will ask whether, given these challenges, there should be a second referendum on leaving the EU.

The UK’s membership of the European has been a controversial issue since joining in the early 1970s. It has deeply divided the British electorate, political parties and movements. It has cost some politicians their careers and has caused the creation of a political party specially designed to lead the UK out of Europe. However, in spite of this, the result of the referendum came as a huge shock in British Politics. Rather than uniting a divided Conservative Party it has further reinforced its divisions, and coupled with a poor result at the subsequent general election, has resulted in a weak and precarious government trying to deal with what is the most complex political challenge facing the UK in recent times. And all the time the clock is ticking, as the deadline of 29th March 2019 for the UK’s exit looms. This session will explore the complexity of the political challenge facing the government, and the options that exist for leaving. It will ask – given these difficulties, should there be another referendum on Brexit?

In order to understand these developments we need to think about what is the EU, why did people vote for Brexit, what are the challenges facing the government in delivering the ‘will of the people’, what are the arguments for and against another referendum

Key terms: Brexit, The European Union, referendum, representation, sovereignty,

Find out more

‘Brexit: People voted to Leave EU because they feared immigration, major survey finds’  https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/brexit-latest-news-leave-eu-immigration-main-reason-european-union-survey-a7811651.html

‘UK needs Brexit ‘safe Harbour’ – David Miliband’ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-44106890

‘Second Brexit referendum possible if MPs vote down Theresa May’s deal, Labour’s Brussels leader says’ https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-referendum-second-mps-vote-theresa-may-deal-labour-brussels-richard-corbett-a8321316.html

‘Brexit: All you need to know about the UK leaving the EU ‘ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-32810887

One million students join calls for vote on Brexit deal https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/may/12/one-million-students-call-vote-brexit-deal