PaCCS’s “Brilliant Club” Day – Round Table Discussions

Morning Sessions

1. “Defiant Daughters”

Prof Kate Cooper, University of Manchester

Teenagers who defy their moderate parents in order to follow a radical faith are not a new phenomenon. Stories from the ancient world remember Christian martyrs who rebelled against their families to join a group that stood “outside” society – Christianity. Exploring the story of a 1st Century girl who refused a marriage arranged by her mother in order to become a Christian, we consider the conflict from each point of view, and think about what draws us to empathise with the daughter, or with her mother in turn.

2. “Becoming the Boston Bomber”

Zehra Jaffer, Vice Principal, Skinner’s Academy

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was involved in planting a bomb at the Boston Marathon in April 2013. He was seemingly well-assimilated into his community in a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts. But unbeknownst to his family and school friends, he became “radicalised” by a troubled older brother.  We will listen to the voices of his friends, family, and the wider public who have tried to make sense of his tragic choice. 

3. “Paradise on Earth?”

Dr Tayyeb Mimouni, University of Exeter

Participants work with a selection of ISIS propaganda videos (presenting the caliphate as a paradise on earth), comparing these with blogs from citizen journalists “on the ground” in Syria and Iraq to explore the way that religious ideals can be exploited, and social media used, to try to radicalise people and inspire violent extremism.


4. “Freedom on Trial?”

Prof Robert Gleave, University of Exeter

Participants discuss material from British court cases that bring out issues around freedom of speech, freedom of religion and the role of the state in defining and preventing “radicalisation”. E.g. if people hold strong views about stopping Muslims and non-Muslims from mixing socially, should they be referred to Social Services or the Police?


Afternoon Sessions

5. “To Trust or Not to Trust”

Prof Peter Morey, University of East of London

Who do you trust in your daily lives and why; what are challenges to trust when you move beyond family and peer groups, especially when meeting people with different values and belief systems; what role does “difference” play in allocating or withholding trust?

6. “Mind-Sets”

Prof Quassim Cassam, University of Warwick

What does it mean for your mind to be set; is this the same as being close-minded and/or intolerant; does this it make people more prone to extremist beliefs if they have a closed mind; how easy is it to change a mind-set; who is responsible for changing minds and why?

7. “Religious Stereotypes”

Prof John Wolffe, Open University

Unpacking “religion”: how many different meanings, layers & functions can you identify; how can the religious become stereotyped (by secular observers and by people of other faiths); how does this happen (with or without help from the media); is there a problem with stereotyping; if so, how we counter it?

8. “Alienation and Belonging”

Zehra Jaffer, Vice Principal, Skinner’s Academy

Exploring the extent to which an individual’s sense of alienation can affect their vulnerability to extremist rhetoric. Questions include: which group(s) do you belong to; which do you feel excluded from (and why); does it matter if you feel excluded; whose responsibility is it to make you feel you “belong”?