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‘Café Politique: Dialogues’ Coming To University College

4th September 2017

Image Copyright Joanna Rozpedowski

By Joanna K. Rozpedowski

Café Politique: Dialogues series at University College is meant to provide an interactive engagement with university and guest scholars and a diverse range of ideas in an informal setting. As the name suggests, the talks will aim to focus on current events, timely political trends, foreign policy issues, international relations, security, climate, global governance, policy and conceptual innovations of interest to the student body. The exchanges “over coffee” are scheduled to take place in Castle’s Undercroft Bar and consist of a 10-15 minute structured interview/Q&A between the guest and the evening’s host, followed by an open discussion between the guest and student audience. All talks will be recorded and archived in a podcast format with potential distribution to local Durham University student radio station, Durham University or Castle podcast series.

The proposal follows a popular Ustinov College Café Politique program. However, unlike Ustinov, the Dialogues series would rely on an informal dialogical – rather than typical paper presentation format – and a Question and Answer-only setup. The invited guests will be asked, in their introductions, to pose a leading question, conundrum or a thought-provoking idea, which would subsequently allow students to critically question and further engage with the argument in the forthcoming discussion. In so doing, the Dialogues series would allow students to become acquainted with the scholars’ oeuvre, familiarize themselves with the person behind the page, and personally engage with the critical questions of our time in a more impromptu fashion. We hope that the series will allow for the development of organic, extemporaneous, student-generated discussions that test assumptions and challenge ossified points of view, and offer novel ways of approaching the subject area under consideration.

By inviting specialists in the field who could elucidate not only their own work but explain current developments in the interconnected world, the interactive forum format would offer room for a comprehensive overview of the relevant actors in the field of politics, enable discussion of the most relevant and timely debates in international relations and other cognate fields. The events aim to bring postgraduate and undergraduate students together for informal conversations and debates with the guest and each other within and across Durham University Colleges.

With time, we hope to create an online infrastructure to publicize, increase engagement, and archive the Dialogues series in the form of a website or a podcast series, and across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram platforms among others. A functioning website linked to University College will also be set up to enable potential for transcription of the introductory structured Q&A and its publication online.

The Dialogues series will take place once or twice a month and be accessible to students from across the Durham University community and has a potential of serving as a programmatic requirement for the prospective Durham Award and Global Citizenship Program.