From 8-10 December, Regent’s University London collaborated with international thinktank, the Occidental Studies Institute (OSI Foundation), to host a series of panel discussions on contemporary issues.
One panel explored the influence of big multinational media companies such as Netflix on independent voices in mass media by hearing from those directly involved in the production of film, documentaries, online media, and publishing.
Another panel compared and contrasted the experiences of those dealing with immigration and resettlement of asylum seekers on the front line. This included examples from social care situations in the Republic of Ireland, and the efforts of Spanish border forces to help migrants from North Africa integrate into society without suffering (sometimes self-imposed) exclusion.
The final debate looked at the state of Higher Education in the post-COVID-19 age of virtuality. Representatives from India, North and South America and Europe exchanged views on where we stand and what role the modern university should play.
The conclusions were that students should be encouraged to develop not just technical knowledge during their studies, but also those key transferable skills that employers in all disciplines are looking for: the ability to think critically, communicate effectively, and empathise with others.
Regent's Senior Lecturer in Cross-Cultural Studies, Robert Johnson, said: ‘It was brilliant for Regent’s to support this exciting series of public debates. Students, staff, and online delegates were able to enjoy high-level discussions and the sharing of expert viewpoints and perspectives. Speakers included senior academics, distinguished economists, filmmakers, diplomats, published authors, and religious community leaders. Topics under discussion were diverse, reflecting the fault lines of society in the post-COVID-19 era. We really had a sense of the experts looking to deconstruct and reconstruct the way we approach civil society.’
These multicultural discussions are an example of how Regent’s is committed to producing students who can engage effectively with the world around them, as global leadership comes from taking multiple perspectives on board and working constructively with others with mutual respect and open-mindedness.
The outcomes from the sessions will form the basis of an edition of the OSI Foundation journal, scheduled to be published in early 2022.