The Wilberforce Society | TWS Conference 2019
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TWS Conference 2019

Time: 9:30am – 7:30pm
Date: 26 January 2019
Location: The Cambridge Union, 9A Bridge St.,  CB2 1UB,  Cambridge


Ticket prices:
– £10 for TWS members
– £12 for Cambridge Union members
– £15 for non-members
Due to popular demand we are now offering half-day tickets for the conference – for only £7.5 you can enjoy either our morning (Shifting Global Power, Making Minds Matter) or afternoon (Digital Disruption, Poverty and Progress) panels. When buying tickets, use the promocode on the normal full-day pass. HALF1 for the morning session and HALF2 for the afternoon.


Join us at our Annual Conference 2019: ‘Turning Today’s Challenges into Tomorrow’s Opportunities’


Much of the world’s media focus on the huge challenges we face today, from issues of inequality, to the political tensions caused by the shifts in global power, to the threats of technology, to mental health issues in many parts of the world. However, overcoming these challenges presents many opportunities, such as the potential to bring millions of individuals out of poverty, utilise new technologies to benefit all our lives, and improve our societal wellbeing. 


Discussing these challenges and possible solutions is critical to fulfilling the potential of current changes, and our conference seeks to play a part in that discussion. Join us as we delve into the challenges we face and explore how we can all contribute to overcoming them


Learn from speakers at the forefront of Academia and Business and enjoy the chance to share your own ideas during our interactive panel discussions. After the panels, enjoy a debate in the Cambridge Union debate chamber, which has previously hosted the likes of Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, and more recently, Bernie Sanders, on the motion “The challenges discussed today can, and will, be overcome within our lifetimes”


Together we can change our thinking, and change the future.

Panel 1: Shifting Global Power
With European influence seemingly in decline, and the economic growth of China and Middle Eastern nations over the last decade, followed closely by India, there appears to be an era of shifting global power and influence. This has been exacerbated by the EU being more divided than ever following Brexit, and confidence in the economy is lower in EU nations than in the Far-East. However, although political concerns both in Europe and America have reduced the confidence of its citizens in their own influence, the growth of China and India present new opportunities for trade, technological development, and a global era of collaboration to solve some of our greatest challenges. Furthermore, economic might may be necessary for global influence, however it is not sufficient, with other aspects such as standard of living and respect for democracy and human rights also important. 
Michael Cox – Emeritus Professor of IR at LSE who focuses on the rise of Asia

Benedict Rogers – Human Rights Activist who founded Hong Kong Watch

Kerry Brown – Director of the Lau China Institute at KCL


Panel 2: Making Minds Matter

Despite increasing awareness of mental health issues, they are still not treated equally to physical health concerns, with mental health trusts receiving smaller percentage increases in funding than physical health services for over five years, starting from a smaller base. Furthermore, despite the fact that nearly 50% of adults believe that, in their lifetime, they have had a diagnosable mental health problem, only a third have received a diagnosis. Despite increasing awareness and destigmatisation, around a third of all people with a mental health problem have sought no professional help at all. Mental health is particularly an issue here at Cambridge, where academic pressures, a highly competitive environment, and the underlying nature of individuals who choose this means there is a higher mental health prevalence.
Paul Farmer – CEO of Mental Health Charity Mind

Keith Leslie – Chair of Trustees at the Mental Health Foundation

Dr Abdul Raoof – Representative of the Royal College of Psychiatrists


Panel 3: Digital Disruption

​It is hard to deny that the rate of technological change has reached a sensational level, with the rise of Artificial Intelligence, driverless cars and increasing cybersecurity. However, there are growing fears of the security risks associated with this, both cybersecurity and physical security, and also fears surrounding the impact of workforce displacement and possible inequality. Stephen Hawking stated that AI may “be the best or worst thing to ever happen to humanity” and it is clear that whilst there is clear potential, there are also risks which must be considered and minimised, by governments, businesses and individuals.
Sue Daley – Head of TechUK’s AI and Data Analytics Work

Calum Chace – Author on Artificial Intelligence

Julliette Powell – Founder of TuringAI


Panel 4: Poverty & Progress

​Although the number of individuals living in absolute poverty has declined in recent decades, absolute and relative poverty remain huge issues, with billions of individuals unable to fulfill their potential due to discrimination, lack of opportunity and other societal issues. On a local level, Cambridge has been ranked as the most unequal city in the UK, and the disparity between the wealth of colleges and homelessness that persists around the city is clear to everyone.
Danny Dorling – Oxford geography professor focusing on inequality

Lord John Bird – the founder of the Big Issue

Barry Griffiths – community manager at Cambridge’s leading homelessness charity “Jimmy’s Cambridge”


Join some of the best minds in the field, big names and students from across Cambridge as we tackle the world’s most pressing questions!