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Podcast: George Monbiot; How Did We Get Into This Mess ?

This podcast was recorded on 16th March 2016 at University of Edinburgh,for the Ragged University project by request. With thanks to Elaine and Tarlochan at Wordpower Books, and thanks to Stuart for being welcoming with technical support. Elaine from Wordpower Books, Scotland’s Independent and Radical Bookshop introduces the event they have produced in conjunction with the School of Social and Political Science at the University of Edinburgh.

The main lecture is George Monbiot who is launching his latest book – How Did We Get Into This Mess. The Twitter hashtag which was set up was #thismess.

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The Moral Marketplace by Doreen Soutar

As Kermit famously said, it’s not easy being green. And ironically, as ethical consumption gets more popular, it has also become more difficult to judge which products are ethical and which aren’t. In this article, we start by looking at the part emotion plays in purchasing decisions and the gradual demand for greater product morality. We assume that sellers – spookily enough – are highly interested in selling us stuff, and getting our money is what gets them out of bed in the morning.

We end up at the shocking conclusion that we will only get more ethical products if we give our cash to sellers that treat their produce as if it is worth something to them. Bet you weren’t expecting that!

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Local Third Places and Re-Imagining Economies as Sustainable

Professor Ray Oldenburg has spent many years analysing the social function of what he has coined ‘third places’. His books work to highlight the need for juncture places; places we meet and chew the cud with others in our community and network. Rather than the idea of social separate from economic, he recognises that the two lenses of seeing the world as being intimately bound and tied to each other.

The economic and the social cohabit the same landscape acting as a function of each other; this at least has been a reality, and is a necessary truth if we are to understand our world as a humanized place rather than as a machine of production. This perspective meets readily with Alfred Marshall’s statement ‘Political economy or economics is a study of mankind in the ordinary business of life’; this casts the study as something more human and rich than dry and merciless profiteering at any cost. Read more

The Corporation: Public Discussion on the Film

Over the last two film and curry nights at Serenity Cafe in Edinburgh, we have been watching the film The Corporation.  Originally it started as a book by Professor Joel Bakan, who teaches law at the University of British Columbia. He examines the social, economic, and political dimensions of law winning a number of awards for his scholarship and teaching as well as having worked on landmark legal cases and government policy.

The film has been nominated for over 26 international awards and won the World Cinema Audience Award for Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival, the People’s Choice Awards Vancouver – Calgary – Toronto International Film Festivals; as well as winning the Joris Ivens Special Jury Award in Amsterdam International Film Festival. Read more

Podcast: Dr Gabriel Siles-Brugge talks about the background to TTIP

Dr Gabriel Siles-Brugge, Lecturer in Politics at the University of Manchester, talks about the background to TTIP at University of Manchester Policy Week 2014. In this podcast he gives a historical backdrop running up to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, detailing trade agreements and policies which add context to the current proposals.

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Podcast: Professor Clive George talks about TTIP

Professor Clive George, the author of the book ‘The Truth About Trade’ talks about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership which is a series of trade negotiations that are being carried out the European Union and the United States. Many of these negotiations are being carried out in secret and they have sparked some controversy about their nature and outcomes.

As a trade agreement, TTIP is about reducing the regulatory barriers to trade for big business and covers areas like food safety law, environmental legislation, banking regulations and the sovereign powers of individual nations. In an age where companies are starting to sue countries for loss of profit, these negotiations should be thought about deeply. For example Bayer has sued the European Commission to attempt to overturn a ban on the pesticides they produce that are killing millions of bees.

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Education As A Public Good: A Digest

Broader approaches to societal development are often harder to “sell” than narrowly focused reforms that try to achieve “one thing at a time”. This may help to explain why the powerful intellectual leadership of Manmohan Singh in bringing about the needed economic reforms in India in 1991 was so concentrated on “liberalization” only, without a corresponding focus on the much needed broadening of social opportunities.

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