The Annual Debate

What's the Point of Diversity?
Thursday 21 November 2019

Beveridge Hall, Senate House, University of London


Start: 6:30pm (Doors: 6pm)

Finish: 8:00pm 


This event is free, but you must register for a ticket here.

Diversity has become a divisive issue. In this debate philosophers at the front line will be picking at its complexities and difficulties. What are the different forms of diversity? Why do they matter? Should we be promoting or managing diversity? Should we even be reducing it in the name of greater cohesion? And why are we finding it so hard to have these debates, with opposing sides refusing to engage with each other? 


This year we have abandoned the antagonistic for/against format and have invited our speakers to model a more collaborative discussion in which increased mutual understanding matters more than winning. In our increasingly polarised society, we need to bring people together more than ever.


Confirmed speakers are Tommy J. Curry, Onora O'Neill, Kathleen Stock, and Ritula Shah in the chair.


Tommy J. Curry is a Professor of Philosophy and Personal Chair of Africana Philosophy and Black Male Studies at the University of Edinburgh. His research interests are 19th century ethnology, Critical Race Theory & Black Male Studies. He is the author of The Man-Not: Race, Class, Genre, and the Dilemmas of Black Manhood (Temple University Press 2017), which won the 2018 American Book Award. He is the author of Another white Man’s Burden: Josiah Royce’s Quest for a Philosophy of Racial Empire (SUNY Press 2018), and re-published the forgotten philosophical works of William Ferris as The Philosophical Treatise of William H. Ferris: Selected Readings from The African Abroad or, His Evolution in Western Civilisation (Rowman & Littlefield 2016). He is also the editor of the first book series dedicated to the study of Black males entitled Black Male Studies: A Series Exploring the Paradoxes of Racially Subjugated Males on Temple University Press. 


Onora O'Neill, The Baroness O'Neill of Bengarve CH CBE FBA, is a cross-bench member of the House of Lords, President of the Royal Institute of Philosophy, formerly Principal of Newnham College Cambridge, Chair of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, President of the British Academy, and winner of the recently established $1 million Berggruen Prize. Her most recent book is From Principles to Practice: Normatively and Judgement in Ethics and Politics.


Kathleen Stock is an analytic philosopher at the University of Sussex. One of her main research interests is in the philosophy of fiction and imagination. She published Only Imagine: Fiction, Interpretation and Imagination in 2017 (Oxford University Press). She has also written about sexual and other kinds of objectification. In the last year she has become highly critical of moves to recognise a feeling of "gender identity" in law and policy, nationally and internationally, and has written about it for The Economist, The Conversation, The Article, and Quillette. She is now writing a book with the working title Pretending To Be Me: Where 21st Century Feminism Went Wrong.


Ritula Shah is an award winning BBC journalist and broadcaster. She is currently the main presenter of the World Tonight, Radio 4’s evening news programme, which has a focus on international affairs and domestic politics. She's presented the programme from countries including Brazil, Jordan, India, China, the US, Guantanamo Bay, Finland

and Germany. She also regularly presents the weekly political panel programme, Any Questions, on Radio 4 and has been a presenter of Woman's Hour and PM. Ritula has also made a number of documentaries for the station.

Ritula is a trustee of the Institute of International Visual Arts and an ambassador for the British Asian Trust.


Past Debates