Leaders & Intellectuals: From ‘Legislators’ to Catalysts of Democracy with Sophie Scott-Brown

Tuesday July 4th, 6.15pm (Please note the earlier start time)

As cultural critic Raymond Williams once put it, the only way to substantiate the theory of democracy is to concede the practice of it. In other words, you cannot 'force people to be free'; freedom means being part of deciding what it means to be free.

Which, as philosopher and intellectual historian Sophie Scott-Brown will argue, means we need to transform the roles of intellectual and educator, since traditionally both are rooted in authority. Whether that authority derives from technical expertise, rational analysis, or moral ideals, the outcome is the same; We look to these leaders to show us the 'correct' path through our problems and towards the 'best' outcome.

But if, at the end of the day, democracy must be a practice never merely an outcome, what do we really need from our educators? Should we stop thinking of the intellectual as ‘legislator’ of democracy but rather as ‘catalyst’?

Sophie will look to historical and contemporary thinkers who reinvented what it meant to educate for democracy: Raphael Samuel, founder of the History Workshop movement, Colin Ward, the everyday anarchist, GDH Cole, the pluralist pedagogue, and bell hooks, the original transgressive teacher. Rather than dictate what the ends of democracy should be, these thinkers developed methods and techniques to ignite their students and audiences' social imagination.

Using these ideas as inspiration, she will propose five principles which underpin the art of the organiser: transparency, creativity, resourcefulness, fellowship and reinvention. She will also suggest a few practical ways these principles might be applied in different situations from activist/community groups to a range of educational settings.

Please note that due to Sophie's travel restrictions we will be starting slightly early than usual, with doors opening at 6.15 and the talk and discussion starting at 6.45pm followed by supper at 8.30pm.

Kairos, 1 Essex Street, WC2R 3HY

Doors open at 6.15pm for drinks, talk and discussion starts at 6.45pm followed by a one-pot vegan supper.

£5 members, £10 non-members. Includes food.