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

Leeds Beckett Politics and International Relations Summer School 2019


Leeds Beckett University
Politics & International Relations Summer School
11-12 July 2019

Find out more about studying Politics and International Relations at University at Leeds Beckett University’s 3rd Politics & International Relations Summer School.
DAY 1 – Thursday 11 July
9:30 – 10:00am Registration

Welcome / introductions
10:00am Session 1
Political ideologies: Can Environmentalism become the dominant 21st century ideology?
(Dr Paul Wetherly)
11:15am Break
11:30am Session 2
Gender matters in the global south: what difference does it make to life chances being born male or female in Africa?
(Oriel Kenny)
12:45pm Lunch
13:30pm Session 3
Does anyone really understand the economy?
(Dr Tom Houseman)
3:00pm Close

DAY 2 – Friday 12 July
9:30 – 10:00am Registration

10:00am Session 4
The Refugee Crisis – Forced Displacement in the 21st Century
(Dr Or Raviv)
11:15am Break
11:30am Session 5
Poverty and Plenty: what are the causes of inequality?
(Dr Tom Houseman)
12:45pm Lunch
13:30pm Session 6
Should we be concerned about the rise of populism?
(Dr Paul Wetherly)
Review / Evaluation
3:00pm Close
*Subject to change
The Politics & International Relations Summer School will be held at the City Campus of the University.
To register your interest in the Summer School and receive full details or to book your place please contact Yvonne Rayner y.rayner@leedsbeckett.ac.uk

Session 1, Thursday 11 July, 10am
Political ideologies: Can Environmentalism become the dominant 21st century ideology?
Dr Paul Wetherly
Outline: Greta Thunberg recently denounced politicians for their failure to take action to avert the threat posed by climate breakdown. Greens have criticised the dominant ideologies of left and right and the parties and politicians that represent them as part of the problem, because of their commitment to economic growth. Greens have been, to a large extent, shouting from the sidelines but with little influence over the game being played on the pitch. However, with growing public awareness of climate change, partly thanks to the school climate strikes and other protests, this session will consider whether we could be at an ideological ‘tipping point’ leading to a sudden increase in the influence of environmentalism.
Key terms: environmentalism, climate change, tipping point, progress, economic growth, circular economy
Find out more:
‘You did not act in time’: Greta Thunberg’s full speech to MPs https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/apr/23/greta-thunberg-full-speech-to-mps-you-did-not-act-in-time
‘Tipping points’ could exacerbate climate crisis, scientists fear https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/09/tipping-points-could-exacerbate-climate-crisis-scientists-fear
Climate change: UK ‘can cut emissions to nearly zero’ by 2050 https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-48122911
UK Parliament declares climate change emergency https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-48126677
Extinction Rebellion: Michael Gove admits need for urgent action https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/apr/30/extinction-rebellion-tells-politicians-to-declare-emergency

Session 2, Thursday 11 July, 1130am
‘Gender matters in the global south: what difference does it make to life chances being born male or female in Africa?’
Oriel Kenny

Aim: In this session we will think about what difference it makes to be born female or male in Africa. What differences would it make to our life chances – ie the opportunities an individual has to improve their life, given their circumstances? We will examine the concept of gender and debates around biology and culture – what is innate and what is learned? – regarding gendered attributes and ask whether society imposes certain gender roles upon us from an early age. Gender disaggregated data tells us a lot about what people actually do and whether divisions of labour are fair. We will also investigate the idea that the household or family is a site of ‘co-operative conflict’ and why pragmatic decisions taken for the good of the family often disadvantage girls.
Key Terms: Gender, sex, life chances, gender roles, gender disaggregated data, household’s gender differentiation, decision-making and co-operative conflict
Find out more
Guardian (2019) Dirty water 20 times deadlier to children in conflict zones than bullets – Unicef https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2019/mar/22/dirty-water-20-times-deadlier-to-children-in-conflict-zones-than-bullets-unicef
Guardian (2018) ‘I can’t breathe’: older women do double the unpaid work of men, says study https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2018/nov/16/i-cant-breathe-older-women-do-double-the-unpaid-work-of-men-says-study
Guardian (2018) ‘No world to leave our children’: progress on women’s rights still lags, shows study https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2018/dec/07/no-world-to-leave-our-children-progress-womens-rights-still-lags-shows-study
UNRISD Report Gender Equality: Striving for Justice in an Unequal World

Session 3, Thursday 11 July, 1330pm
Does anyone really understand the economy?
Dr Tom Houseman

Aims: In political discourse, the economy is framed in contradictory ways. Markets are held to be the source of prosperity and stability, but also are unpredictable and fragile. Economic behaviour is assumed to be rational and calculating, while high finance is thought of as a wild west of risk-takers and speculators following gut instinct and hunches. Politicians compete to be seen as responsible economic managers, while claiming economic processes are outside of their control. Economists claim to produce scientific knowledge about the economy, while failing to predict fundamental events such as the financial crisis. Despite the common assumption that the economy is well understood, there is little agreement around even the most basic questions of what the economy is and how it works. This session explores some key ideas in these debates and considers the political consequences of living in a society dominated by something so contested and unknown.
Key terms: political economy, economics, capitalism, knowledge.
Find out more:
International Political Economy of Everyday Life (I-PEEL): http://i-peel.org/

An interview with Professor Richard Werner https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVqfFy2O2JE

The new left economics: how a network of thinkers is transforming capitalism https://www.theguardian.com/news/2019/jun/25/the-new-left-economics-how-a-network-of-thinkers-is-transforming-capitalism

Rethinking economics (formerly the Post-Crash Economics Society) http://www.rethinkeconomics.org/about/what-matters-to-us/

Luyendijk, J (2015) Don’t let the Nobel prize fool you. Economics is not a science https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/oct/11/nobel-prize-economics-not-science-hubris-disaster

Session 4, Friday 12 July, 10am
The Refugee Crisis – Forced Displacement in the 21st Century
Dr Or Raviv
Aims: In this session we will examine the issue of forced migration and the governance institutions that have been built to address the various challenges this issue presents. We begin with an evaluation of the development of a refugee regime and international refugee law, specifically throughout the post-World War II years up until the end of the Cold War. The end of the Cold War seemed to usher in a new era of forced displacement, with the rise of internal displacement relative to refugee flows. There is a longstanding link between the concepts of refugees and IDPs, however this relationship is contested at the international legal and institutional level. This tension, among others, will be taken up in our discussion.
Key Terms: Refugees, Internally Displaced People (IDPs), Asylum seekers, economic migrants, country of first asylum, Humanitarian Intervention, the Assistance/protection gap
Find out more:
Podcast: Refuge: transforming a broken refugee system Professor Alexander Betts, Professor Paul http://www.lse.ac.uk/lse-player?id=3795 Recorded on 29 March 2017
Ted Talk: Alexander Betts, TED2016 Our refugee system is failing. Here’s how we can fix it:

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees: Figures at a Glance https://www.unhcr.org/uk/figures-at-a-glance.html
Amnesty International: Refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants https://www.amnesty.org/en/what-we-do/refugees-asylum-seekers-and-migrants/
1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees (UNHCR). Available at: http://www.unhcr.org/3b66c2aa10.html
The Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (OCHA, 1998). Available at: http://www.unhcr.org/43ce1cff2.html
African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa (2009, AU/UNHCR). Available at: http://www.unhcr.org/4ae9bede9.html

Session 5, Friday 12 July, 1130am
Poverty and Plenty: what are the causes of inequality?
Dr Tom Houseman

Aims: Inequality has become an increasingly visible problem, both globally and in wealthy countries such as the US and UK, and has been on the rise for the last few decades. It has been linked to various social, political, and human problems, from homelessness and poverty-related health problems to the disproportionate power and influence of the richest 1%. But the status of inequality is contested. Some actors view it as an existential threat to peace, justice and democracy, while others argue inequality is natural and a sign of a healthy society. Behind these disagreements lie different ideas about what causes inequality, and what is behind the recent rise in certain forms of inequality. Taking a broader definition of inequality that includes social and political aspects as well as the usual income or wealth disparities, this session explores the complex roots of inequality and the processes, politics, and patterns that maintain a world where some people starve while others live in unimaginable luxury.
Key terms: Inequality, poverty, wealth, discrimination, austerity.
Find out more:

Austerity and inequality fuelling mental illness, says top UN envoy https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jun/24/austerity-and-inequality-fuelling-mental-illness-says-top-un-envoy

The Institute for Policy Studies’ inequalities fact portal: https://inequality.org/facts/global-inequality/

The World Inequality Report (2018): https://wir2018.wid.world/

The OECD on the urgency of inequality (video): http://www.oecd.org/inequality.htm also, check out the income inequality portal (https://data.oecd.org/inequality/income-inequality.htm)

Nick Hopkins and Helena Bengtsson (2017) ‘What are the Paradise Papers and what do they tell us?’, The Guardian 5th November 2017

Session 6, Friday 12 July, 1330
‘Should we be concerned about the rise of populism?’
(Dr Paul Wetherly)
Outline: In recent years there has been a lot of discussion about the rise of ‘populism’ in Europe and elsewhere. On the whole this discussion has a critical tone, using the term ‘populism’ in a pejorative sense, and often seeing it as an irrational form of politics that we (that is, the rational non-populists) should be concerned about. In particular, populism is associated with nationalist, anti-immigrant parties and movements and with political upheavals such as Brexit and the election of Trump.
In this session we will: explore the nature of populism and its relationship to ‘mainstream’ parties and ideologies; look at how the rise of populism can be explained; and, consider how concerned we should be.
Key terms: populism, Left and Right, the people, the elite, ideology, liberal democracy
Find out more:
Mounk, Y. (2018) ‘How populist uprisings could bring down liberal democracy’, The Observer, 4 March. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/mar/04/shock-system-liberal-democracy-populism
Mudde, C. (2015) ‘Populism in Europe: a primer’, Open Democracy. https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/cas-mudde/populism-in-europe-primer
Lewis, P., Seán Clarke, Caelainn Barr, Josh Holder and Niko Kommenda (2018) ‘Revealed: one in four Europeans vote populist’, The Guardian, 20 November https://www.theguardian.com/world/ng-interactive/2018/nov/20/revealed-one-in-four-europeans-vote-populist
Henley,J. (2018) ‘How populism emerged as an electoral force in Europe’, The Guardian, 20 November. https://www.theguardian.com/world/ng-interactive/2018/nov/20/how-populism-emerged-as-electoral-force-in-europe

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