April 20 meeting: Feeding Britain – issues, challenges and ethical dimensions, by Prof Ralph Early, Harper Adams University

Thursday 20 April at 7.30pm in University Centre Shrewsbury

Professor Ralph Early, Professor of Food Industry and Head of Department of Food Science and Agri-Food Supply Chain Management at Harper Adams University, and a member of Shropshire Humanist Group.

Britain is not food secure and since WWII successive governments have done little to deal with the problem. While the country’s self-sufficiency has fallen from over 80% some 60 years ago to approaching 50% today the nation’s waistline has increased and so has the burden of food related poor health on our medical system. This is bad news for the country, but good news for the corporations that profit from selling unhealthy food and treating symptoms of diet related disease. So what can be done to solve the problems? Ideas will be floated and the audience will be invited to suggest solutions.

Please note: The time of this may appear incorrectly on the Upcoming Events. This is caused by time changes between Google and the UK. The correct time is 7.30 pm BST.

BHA Convention and Humanist Professionals Conference, 9 to 11 June

From the BHA: The Humanist Professionals Conference, taking place in Cambridge during the daytime on Friday 9 June. This conference has been organised to take place alongside the BHA Convention 2017, which is running from Friday evening through to 16:00 on Sunday 11 June.

The Humanist Professionals Conference is an excellent opportunity to share experiences and best practice with others, with CPD that will be relevant and useful to everyone who might attend: school speakers, pastoral support volunteers, dialogue officers, and celebrants. The day is also open to those who might not be involved with the BHA in any of the above ways, but who would like to be. There’s been strong interest, and half the tickets are gone already.

There will be twelve sessions – plenary and parallel – throughout the day, covering a wide gamut of topics and interests:

  • Getting involved with Community Services
  • Pre-need funerals and pastoral support
  • Marketing yourself
  • Producing a good PowerPoint
  • How to ask good questions
  • Prison Education
  • How to speak to young people about Humanism – and answer tricky questions
  • Developing a voice you can rely on
  • Debating and dialogue techniques
  • Making use of symbolic gestures in your work
  • Successful peer assessment

The Humanist Professionals Conference is free to those also attending the BHA Convention 2017, or just £49 as a standalone event.

The BHA Convention 2017 will take place from 17:30 on Friday 9 June until 16:00 on Sunday 11 June, featuring dozens of speakers on myriad topics. Even three months out, it’s already our biggest Convention ever.

Join us and hear from theoretical physicist and BHA Vice President Jim Al-Khalili; comedian and BHA President Shappi Khorsandi; Humanist of the Year and author of the ‘Dubs amendment’ that committed the government to accepting more child refugees, Lord Alf Dubs; Julia Ebner, policy analyst at the Quilliam Foundation; oceanographer and physicist Helen Czerski; and many, many more.

Re-booting technology to impact on poverty and the environment: public meeting 13 March

Please note this is not sponsored by SHG or BHA, but may be of interest:

A free public meeting, Re-booting  technology to impact on poverty and the environment. Simon Trace CBE has 35 years of experience working in the international development sector, for Wateraid and then as CEO of Practical Action.

Our society is more likely to direct research funding into a cure for male baldness than a malaria vaccine, or into exploring new methods of extracting shale gas than finding solutions for storing renewable energy. In this powerful talk, Simon Trace argues that we need a new approach, one of technology justice, to put things right.

Monday 13th March 2017 at 7.30pm at the United Reformed Church Lecture Hall, English Bridge, Shrewsbury. All Welcome. Refreshments

Humanists send Shropshire schools free copies of “What is Humanism?” book by Michael Rosen and Annemarie Young

bookcoverFrom 21 February, schools in Shropshire will be receiving free copies of What is Humanism?, a new book about Humanism from Michael Rosen and Annemarie Young, after a national crowdfunding campaign by the British Humanist Association.

Humanists are non-religious people who look to science and reason to understand the natural world and who make moral decisions based on empathy and concern for other human beings, rather than instructions found in holy texts.

The new book is the first book of its kind aimed at children, and was published to support teachers who want to explore non-religious ethics and humanist worldviews in Religious Education lessons. It features contributions from popular faces like comedian Shappi Khorsandi, physicist Jim Al-Khalili, actor Stephen Fry, and novelists Philip Pullman and Natalie Haynes, who are all humanists.

This is the first time the BHA has distributed a book to primary schools, and for many schools, it will be the first book about non-religious worldviews in their libraries.

Simon Nightingale is an accredited humanist school speaker with the British Humanist Association (BHA) who has in the past given talks about Humanism at a number of Shropshire schools including Meole Brace School in Shrewsbury, Burton Borough School in Newport and Telford Priory School. He says:

“Recent surveys have shown that over half the UK population live without religion and among young people it’s almost 70%. Of those that live without religion, almost all hold basic humanist beliefs, even if they are don’t call themselves humanists.

It’s so important that those who live without faith understand where those with faith are coming from. And of course that those with faith understand the basis of humanism. I am particularly keen to address some of the myths about humanists, for example that we are anti-religious; not at all, we are non-religious which is very different and indeed we support the rights of those with faith to live as they wish and we collaborate with other religions and interfaith groups to promote values we share with most moderate religions. Or that living without religion means we have no morals; on the contrary we have strong ethical beliefs based on our innate moral instincts, refined by evidence, reason and understanding each other. Or that humanists are devoid of any spiritual sense and that our lives are without meaning – that too is far from true.

Learning about Humanism helps children, whether they’re religious or not religious, to have a good think about where they get their values from and how they go about making ethical choices. A lot of teachers find Humanism to be a really useful perspective to explore in the classroom because it helps pupils to get to grips with big ethical questions and the wide variety of different religious and non-religious worldviews.”

Michael Rosen and Annemarie Young commented:

“Millions of people in this country and all over the world work out their philosophy of life, and how to live, without referring to religion. Schools quite rightly spend a good deal of time and effort exploring the ideas and philosophies of the world’s great religions, but the ideas of humanism, secularism, and atheism are largely ignored. The mismatch between what is believed and what is taught is surely wrong. Our book aims at opening up a discussion about what humanism is, and how people live their lives as humanists. Throughout the book, readers are encouraged to ask questions, in order to help them think for themselves and thus to counter prejudice.”

Simon Nightingale and other humanists were trained as a school speaker by BHA, which also provides teachers with free education resources through its website, Understanding Humanism. Teachers can also use the site to request a free visit from a humanist school speaker.

16th February: Oswestry Equality Group

oswestryhumanrightsFrom Fairness, Respect, Equality Shropshire (FRESh):

You may remember the very successful British Institute of Human Rights (BIHR) Human Rights Tour event held in Shrewsbury in October 2014. We are delighted that once again we’re holding the event in partnership with BIHR – this time in Oswestry on 16 February – as part of their 2017 Human Rights Tour. The event aims to raise awareness about human rights and their relevance in everyday life, and provide space for debate and discussion.
BIHR will provide a basic introduction to the law that protects our human rights in the UK, and together we will explore what the Human Rights Act is and how it is relevant and real to us all in our everyday lives today. There will be an opportunity to engage in some of the important debates going on about the future of our human rights law, and the final session will explore the relevance of human rights in our local rural context.
The day will use a combination of presentations, interactive sessions, discussion and creative activities, providing a timely opportunity to explore the law, everyday practice and the way human rights are portrayed.
Everyone is welcome to attend. More information is available here, from FRESh on 07773 644 714 (answerphone), or email fresh.shropshire@gmail.com.

Ludlow and Marches Humanist Group: Spring programme

ludlowquakers-ed-smFrom our neighbours, the Ludlow and Marches Humanist Group:

21 February – ‘Ludlow’s Workhouse’ – an exploration of its history and consequences, by John Nash.

21 March – ‘The South Shropshire Furniture scheme’, a unique local ‘social enterprise’ which recycles used items, especially furniture, and helps train locals in refurbishment/carpentry skills. This talk will be given by James Cooper.

18 April – ‘Defend our NHS campaign’ Gill George will be discussing this from the current Shropshire perspective.

16 May – Annual General Meeting. The usual formalities, plus an appropriate video and refreshments and cakes.

Meetings are 7:30 p.m. in the Friends’ Meeting House, St Mary’s Lane, Ludlow SY8 1DZ.

16 March meeting: Shelley – a Humanist out of Time, by John Webster

John’s multi-faceted presentation gives an unrivalled insight into Shelley, and reveals the extent to which humanist ideals animated his work. With Shelley verses presented in a cycle of songs (‘an interesting and enjoyable way to encounter the lyrics’), a narration voiced by Benjamin Zephaniah, and images from Shelley locations in Italy, this is an special opportunity to discover the scope and ambition of the poet who looked forward to a democratic, pluralist and secular future. There is a review of John’s talk here. Information about John’s DVD is here.

Thursday 16 March, 7.30pm in University Centre Shrewsbury, Guildhall, Shrewsbury SY3 8HQ.

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