Thursday, January 25, 2018

Henry Tam & Question the Powerful

Dr. Henry Benedict Tam has written about politics and society in a wide range of publications ('HT: Bibliography'), and presented his ideas at events hosted by state and non-governmental institutions both in Europe and the US.

The Question the Powerful project disseminates ideas and findings based on the work he has carried out in a variety of educational and policy roles: Director, Forum for Youth Participation & Democracy (University of Cambridge); Head of Civil Renewal (Home Office, UK Government); Visiting Professor, Lifelong Learning (Birkbeck, University of London); Director, Community Safety & Regeneration (Government Office, East of England); Chair, Communitarian Forum (St Edmunds College, University of Cambridge).

You can catch up with his political reflections on the Question the Powerful blog; and follow his tweets on current events via @HenryBTam. More information about the available learning resources are set out below:

KEY PUBLICATIONS

[1] Political Ideas
Works that examine the key ideas relating to governance, responsibility, community, democracy, and citizenship; and explain how a civic-communitarian approach can help to resolve conflicting claims about how we should live:

Time to Save Democracy: how to govern ourselves in the age of anti-politics
This book presents a diagnosis of what prevents democracy from functioning, and goes beyond the familiar ‘get the vote out’ ideas, to set out 9 key areas where reforms are necessary to ensure we can govern ourselves more effectively. It puts forward forty recommendations to help us avoid the twin threats of oppressive rule and debilitating chaos.

Communitarianism: a new agenda for politics & citizenship
This standard text on progressive communitarian ideas has been praised on both sides of the Atlantic, and nominated by New York University Press for the 2000 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order.
(For more information on Communitarianism and its companion volume, Progressive Politics in the Global Age, go to Info on Communitarianism)

Against Power Inequalities
A short global history on the progressive struggle against exploitation and oppression. “An intellectual tour de force” (Professor Charles Derber, US); “history retold as a panorama of struggle, hope and co-operation [by] a master storyteller” (Ed Mayo, Secretary General, Co-operatives UK).
(For more information, go to Against Power Inequalities)

Responsibility & Personal Interactions
An in-depth study on when people should be held responsible for their behaviour, with the proposed criteria tested against legal judgment in seminal cases. It provides a basis for exposing flawed attempts to deny responsibility.
(For more information on this book and its companion volume, Punishment, Excuses & Moral Development, go to Info on Responsibility)

[2] Leadership Guidance
The materials outlined below draw on reviews of effective practices in a wide range of institutions and personal experiences in shaping public policies, to provide guidance on how to develop cooperative communities and advance the public interest:

Together We Can: the practice of community empowerment
‘Together We Can’ was a national cross-government programme for civil renewal and community empowerment (2003-2010) – it was showcased as an exemplar at the 2008 international meeting of the Global Network of Government Innovators (USA). Practical ideas and policy recommendations can be found amongst the resources listed here.

Political Literacy and Civic Thoughtfulness
A guide to the problem of political illiteracy, and how it can be tackled through the cultivation of civic thoughtfulness, using the 'Synetopia' framework. This provides a basis for assessing the level of political aptitude and identifying key actions to be taken to attain improvements.

Cooperative Gestalt: the practice of cooperative problem-solving
The discussions with academics and practitioners via the Forum for Youth Participation & Democracy (University of Cambridge) facilitated the codification of how best to engender cooperative problem-solving. For articles and other materials on how organisations can secure more effective collaborative working to achieve their goals, see: here.

Serving the Public: the practice of democratic engagement
Guidance based on research and policy work that helped one local authority gain recognition as the best in England (Braintree, 1993), another one winning the award for youth participation from the Prime Minister (St Edmundsbury, 1999), and which led to the establishment of a national network of Civic Pioneer authorities: here.

[3] Dystopian Writings
These novels depict disturbing social and political trends, highlight the power of rhetoric and misdirection, and explore what kinds of resistance and reform are urgently needed (see The Anti-Con Novels for an overview):

Kuan’s Wonderland
An allegorical novel about the mysterious realm of Shiyan, where a young boy is brought before the institution known as Plutopia. “Original and very engaging” (Fantasy Book Review); “an unmissable page-turner” (President, the Independent Publishers Guild). Recommended by the Equality Trust.
(For more information, go to Kuan’s Wonderland: a quick guide)

Whitehall through the Looking Glass
A satirical tale about how a group of powerful corporations known as the Consortium came to take over the government of Britain and America. “[A] timely reminder of the dangers of the rapidly-accelerating corporatisation of our political and economic life.” (F. O'Grady, General Secretary, TUC); “We need Tam's absurdist vision of Whitehall to help wake us all up” (S. Duffy, Director, Centre for Welfare Reform).
(For more information, go to Whitehall through the Looking Glass: a quick guide)

The Hunting of the Gods
A saga set on a much transformed Earth where immortal rulers dictate terms to subjects who are brought up to fight against their foreign enemies until a resurrected stranger reveals to them the origins of the self-proclaimed gods. Questions are raised about microbotic technology, personal identity, and the widening gap between those who have a rich and prolonged life and those have nothing but insecurity.

TALKS, ADVICE & TRAINING

Henry Tam has been invited to share his ideas on politics and society at events convened by many diverse organisations such as WEA (Workers’ Educational Association); Church Action on Poverty; South Place Ethical Society; the BBC; National School of Government; Metropolitan Police Authority; Urban Forum; Civil Service College, and Community Service Volunteers.

He has also been a guest speaker at the World Forum for Democracy (the Council of Europe); the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation (Harvard, USA); the Institute of Sociology (Warsaw, Poland); the Society for Applied Philosophy; the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics; the Institute for Communitarian Policy Studies (Washington, USA); the Glencree Centre for Reconciliation (Ireland); the London Business School; the Oxford Centre for Advanced Study of the Social Sciences; and other research institutions.
(For a list of the talks given, go to ‘The QTP Talks Series’)

ACADEMIC & PROFESSIONAL RECOGNITION

• Associate Fellow, the Crick Centre, University of Sheffield (2017-).
• Affiliated Lecturer, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge (2011-2015).
• Visiting Professor, School of Lifelong Learning, Birkbeck, University of London (2008-2011).
• Fellow, Globus Institute for Globalization and Sustainable Development, University of Tilburg, the Netherlands (2000-2008).
• Fellow, Chartered Institute of Marketing (1993-2011)
• Research Fellow, Centre for Citizenship Development, Anglia Polytechnic University (1992-1995).
• Diploma in Public Relations & Marketing, CAM (Communication, Advertising & Marketing) Foundation (1988).
• Ph.D in Philosophy, (Swire Scholar) the University of Hong Kong (1981-1984).
• BA/MA in Philosophy, Politics & Economics, (Neale Scholar) the Queen’s College, University of Oxford (1978-1981).