Chairman’s Welcome

Dear Fresher,

Welcome to the Wilberforce Society!

I still remember my first days at Cambridge, incredibly excited but also terrified that I wouldn’t fit in, find my passion or be good enough. The bewildering array of societies hardly helped in narrowing down my options. One thing I did have however was an interest in politics and a desire to learn a little more about it. Thus, when I first came along to meetings of The Wilberforce Society, I quickly realised that I could have a voice, that my keen interest was enough and that instead of simply talking about things, there was an avenue to look for real solutions to issues in addition to entering into conversation with the various policy makers themselves. After two years in this wonderful society, my enthusiasm for its work has only grown.

The society was founded in 2009 by two Sidney Sussex students who had grown tired of entrenched ideological battles between two or more rival camps. There existed no constructive conversation for people interested in the real meat of political debate. Conjure up images of ‘student politics’ and the first two things that probably come to mind are protesters swinging from the Cenotaph and out of touch posh-boys preoccupied with cheese, biscuits and port. I believe, however, that this view is slowly changing, and is doing so thanks, in large part, to this society.

We’re fiercely proud of our non-partisan stance because it frees us to think originally, creatively and pragmatically. This way of thinking has gathered us recognition from many influential policy makers and journalists, pleasantly surprised by the quality of the work we produce. The society was given a special commendation at the last Prospect Think Tank of the Year awards, for example, and our work has been given favourable press in the Financial Times and other major news outlets. Whilst we can’t compete with the full-time think-tank in terms of the detailed level of empirical investigation they carry out into each of their reports, we are free from any world-weary pessimism whilst always focusing on making our proposals practical.

Each policy paper presentation provides a rare opportunity to gain the input of an expert on a detailed policy and to have others devote an hour and half to your own ideas. We encourage as broad a range of topics as possible – no subject is too niche for us! In addition to all this, our Annual Conference is a Cambridge calendar highlight, and this year’s is set to be better than ever, with world-class speakers and a fascinating topic – ‘Technology: Changing and Challenging the State?`. If however you are simply looking for a space to discuss policy issues in a relaxed environment with glass of wine in hand, why don’t you come along to our regular Ideas events instead?

I sincerely hope that you’ll join us as a member during this year and come along to some of our events. I’d be more than happy to answer any of your questions and meet you in person to discuss what we do.

I look forward to seeing you soon.

Kind regards,

Laura Grunberg

Chair, 2015-2016

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