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Sunday, October 16, 2016

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 across Europe and the US.

‘Question the Powerful’ builds 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 social and political reflections on the Question the Powerful blog; follow his tweets via @HenryBTam; and find out more about his main publications as set out below:

KEY PUBLICATIONS

[1] Lessons from Research
Studies on some of the key lessons to be drawn from cooperative and communitarian ideas (see ’Communitarianism & Synetopia’ for an overview):

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] Depictions of Dystopia
The ‘Synetopia Quest’ series of dystopian novels provide thought-provoking tales about disturbing social and political trends (see Synetopia Quest for an overview):

Kuan’s Wonderland
An allegorical novel about the mysterious realm of Shiyan, where a young boy must uncover the truth if the world is not to succumb to irrevocable oppression. “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, and revolutions erupt against the reigning regimes. Questions are raised about the advancement of microbotic technology, self-identity in a rapidly changing world, and the distribution of resources that continuously widen the gulf between those who have a rich and prolonged life and those have nothing but insecurity.

[3] Guidance for Practice
The materials below are based on practices that have led to more effective cooperation and better community relations (see Together We Can: resources for cooperative problem-solving for an overview):

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). It supported government departments, local councils, and community organisations in developing participatory skills citizens, adopting new empowerment techniques, and ensuring more opportunities were provided for communities to understand and shape public policies. Practical ideas and policy recommendations can be found amongst the resources listed here.

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 what works in cultivating the cooperative gestalt and promoting cooperative problem-solving, not just amongst young people, but in group contexts. The application of these findings can help any organisation interested in securing more effective collaborative working to achieve their goals. A range of articles and other materials can be found here.

Serving the Public: the practice of democratic engagement
In depth development of citizen engagement policies with local authorities at a senior level has informed the production of a series of case studies and good practice guides. The impact of these ideas has been reflected in one local authority recognised as the best in England (Braintree, 1993), another one winning the award for youth participation from the Prime Minister (St Edmundsbury, 1999), and the establishment of a network of Civic Pioneer authorities across the country. Details of the resources can be found here.

QUESTION THE POWERFUL PUBLIC TALKS

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 Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation (Harvard, USA); the World Forum for Democracy (the Council of Europe); 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

• 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).

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Henry Tam: Bibliography

List of Published Writings (1990 - present)

• ‘Political Literacy and Civic Thoughtfulness', The Centre for Welfare Reform (The Need for Roots series), (2016).
• ‘Interview with a Political Writer', Banana Writers' Insider Series (2016).
• ‘Synetopia: Resource Distribution Revisited’, The Centre for Welfare Reform, (March 2016)
• ‘Synetopia: A Model for Collaborative Leadership’, Civil Service College, (March 2016)
• ‘Utopia, Dystopia, & Synetopia’, WEA Eastern Newsletter (Jan 2016)
• ‘Snide & Prejudiced: a tale of constitutional shenanigans’, openDemocracy, (November 2015)
• ‘Equality and the Governance of Welfare’, The Centre for Welfare Reform, (Sept 2015)
• ‘Communitarian governance: a public education challenge’, openDemocracy, (July 2015)
• 'Towards an Open Cooperativist Development Agency’, P2P Foundation, (March 2015)
• ‘Rethinking National Security’, The Centre for Welfare Reform, (Feb 2015)
• ‘'Communitarianism, sociology of', in James D. Wright (editor-in-chief), International Encyclopedia of Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2nd edition, Vol. 4. Pp.311-316 (Oxford: Elsevier, 2015).
Against Power Inequalities: a history of the progressive struggle, (new edition) Birkbeck/QTP: 2015.
• ‘Labour for the ninety-nine percent’, in The Orient (The Official Newsletter of Chinese for Labour, February 2015. Vol 15).
• ‘Leadership beyond Command & Control’, Civil Service College, (Nov 2014)
‘Let’s Talk About Democracy’ in nED (the network for Education & Democracy): (August 2014).
• ‘What would Whitehall be like in fifty years’ time?’ in Despatches, the Civil Service College newsletter (Vol.2 July 2014, p.2).
‘Whitehall through the Looking Glass: a novel exposé of corporate government’, published interview in Shout Out UK, 8 May, 2014).
Whitehall through the Looking Glass (a novel). QTP: 2014.
• 'Communitarianism', in the Encyclopedia of Action Research (Sage Publications, 2014).
• 'Progressive Lifelong Learning: pros and cons', NIACE Journal, 'Adult Learning', winter, 2013.
• 'Cooperative Problem-Solving & Education’, Forum journal, Volume 55 Number 2 2013.
• 'The Curious Case of Chinese Politics in Britain’, The Orient (2013).
• 'When Plato met Potter’, Book Brunch (published 18 June 2013).
• 'Cooperative Problem-Solving: what it means in theory and practice', FYPD, University of Cambridge, 2013 (download article here). Polish version, 'Demokracja: lekcje kooperatywnego rozwiazywania problemow’, published in edukacja obywatelska w dziataniu, ed. by Kordasiewicz, A. & Sadura, P., (Wydawnictwo Naukowe Scholar, Warsaw, 2013).
Kuan's Wonderland (a novel). QTP: 2012.
• ‘Citizen Engagement and the Quest for Solidarity’, in After the Third Way: The Future of Social Democracy in Europe>, ed. by Olaf Cramme and Patrick Diamond (London, I.B. Tauris, 2012).
• ‘Democratic Participation and Learning Leadership’, published in Polish as ‘Szkola liderow’ in Partycypacja: przewodnik krytyki politycznej, ed. by Sadura, P. & Erbel, J. (Wydawnictwo Krytyki Politycznej, Warsaw, 2012).
• ‘Rejuvenating Democracy: lessons from a communitarian experiment’, Forum, Volume 53, Number 3, 2011.
Komunitaryzm, (Polish translation of Communitarianism, by J Grygienc & A Szahaj), Wydawnictwo Naukowe Uniwersytetu Mikolaja Kopernika, Torun 2011.
• ‘Through Thick & Thin: what does it really take for us to live together’, in Ethnicities, ed. by Dina Kiwan, Volume 11 Issue 3 September 2011.
• ‘The Big Con: reframing the state-society debate’, PPR Journal, Volume 18, Issue 1, March-May 2011.
Against Power Inequalities: reflections on the struggle for inclusive communities, (original edition) Birkbeck, London University, 2010.
• ‘The Importance of Being a Citizen’, in Active Learning for Active Citizenship, ed. by John Annette & Marjorie Mayo, (NIACE, 2010).
• ‘Bringing up Citizens’ – review of Patrick Keeney’s Liberalism, Communitarianism & Education, in PROSPERO (Autumn issue, 2009).
Review of White, S. and Leighton, D. (ed.) Building a Citizen Society: the emerging politics of republican democracy (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 2008) in RENEWAL (Vol. 17 No.2, Summer 2009).
• ‘Citizens’ Access to Power’, in County Beacon (the County Councils Network magazine) April 2008.
• ‘Power to the Citizen’, in VINE (the Voluntary Organisations’ Network North East newsletter) Summer 2008.
• ‘Civil Renewal: the agenda for empowering citizens’, in Re-energizing Citizenship: Strategies for Civil Renewal, ed. by Gerry Stoker, Tessa Brannan, and Peter John, (Macmillan Palgrave, 2007).
• ‘The Hidden Barriers to Collaboration’ in The Collaborative State, ed. by Simon Parker and Niamh Gallagher, (London: Demos, 2007).
• ‘The Case for Progressive Solidarity’, in Identity, Ethnic Diversity & Community Cohesion, ed. by M. Wetherell, M. Lafleche & R. Berkeley, (London: Sage, 2007).
• ‘Communities in Control’, New Start (Volume 8, No. 345, 23 June 2006).
• ‘Civil Renewal & Diversity’, in Social Capital, Civil Renewal & Ethnic Diversity (Proceedings of a Runnymede Conference), 2005.
• ‘Live and Let Eat’, a review of Steven Lukes’ Liberals & Cannibals: The Implications of Diversity, in The Responsive Community, Spring/Summer 2004.
Progressive Politics in the Global Age (ed.) (Cambridge: Polity, 2001).
• ‘What is the Third Way’, review of The Third Way and The Third Way and its Critics (by Anthony Giddens), for The Responsive Community. (Summer 2001).
• ‘The Community Roots of Citizenship’, in Citizens: Towards a Citizenship Culture, ed. by B. Crick (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2001).
• Review of Schools and Community: The Communitarian Agenda in Education (by James Arthur with Richard Bailey), for the Cambridge Journal of Education. (May 2000).
• 'Rediscovering British Communitarianism', The Responsive Community, (reprinted in the Co-op Commonweal) Spring, 1999.
• 'Time to take a stand: Communitarian Ideas and Third Way Politics', International Scope Review Vol 1, Issue 1, 1999.
• ‘Communitarian Ideas and Third Way Politics', Local Government Voice, July 1999.
Communitarianism: A New Agenda for Politics & Citizenship (Macmillan, 1998).
Putting Citizens First, with John Stewart (Municipal Journal/SOLACE, 1997).
Punishment, Excuses & Moral Development (ed.) (Aldershot: Avebury Press, 1996).
• 'Communitarianism and Citizens Empowerment', Local Government Policy Making, January 1996.
• 'Communitarianism and Humanism: The Need for a Citizens' Movement', The Ethical Record, February, 1996.
• 'Education and the Communitarian Movement', Journal for Pastoral Care in Education, September 1996.
The Citizens Agenda (The White Horse Press 1995).
• 'Crime & Responsibility' in B. Almond (ed.) Introducing Applied Ethics (Blackwell's 1995).
• 'Enabling Structures' in D. Atkinson (ed.) Cities of Pride (Cassell 1995).
• 'Recognise Your Responsibilities', The Professional Manager, March 1995.
• 'The Real Communitarian Challenge', County News, May 1995.
• 'Towards a Communitarian Philosophy', Philosophy Today, May 1995.
• 'Communitarianism & the Co-operative Movement', The Co-op Commonweal, Issue 2 1995.
• 'Community Movement', Local Government Management, Autumn 1995.
• 'Take the Community Route to People Power', Local Government Chronicle (24/11/95).
Marketing, Competition & the Public Sector (ed.) (Harlow: Longman, 1994).
• 'Empowerment: Too Big a Task?' The Professional Manager, March 1994.
Citizenship Development: Towards an Organisational Model (LGMB 1994).
Serving the Public: Customer Management in Local Government (Harlow: Longman 1993).
• 'Power to the People' Local Government Management Summer 1993.
• 'How Should We Live?' The Philosopher, October 1993.
Responsibility & Personal Interactions: A Philosophical Study of the Criteria for Responsibility Ascriptions (Lampeter: Edwin Mellen Press, 1990).

Friday, October 14, 2016

The QTP (Question the Powerful) Talks Series

• ‘Civic Engagement’, presentation to La Ligue de L’enseignement, Cambridge, 8/11/16 [QTP 109]
• ‘Taking Control of Our Lives’, Cambridge Commons, 1/10/16 [QTP 108]
• ‘Power, Reason & Social Purpose; the critical role of adult education’, WEA tutors conference, Cambridge, 27/5/16 [QTP 107]
• ‘Collaborative Leadership’, Northern Ireland Civil Service, Belfast, 4/5/16 [QTP 106]
• ‘A Recipe for Work, Life & Everything?’, Workers Educational Association, Cambridge, 2/4/16 [QTP 105]
• ‘The ‘Together We Can’ case study’, Civil Service College, 17/3/16 [QTP 104]
• ‘Commoning, Governments, & Cooperation’, at the Commons Strategies Group & Heinrich Boll Foundation event, ‘State Power and the Commons: Transcending a Problematic Relationship’, Germany, 29/2/16 [QTP 103]
• ‘Together We Can: Public Leadership', talk given to delegation of Indian Government's senior civil servants, 18/9/15 [QTP 102]
• ‘God, Goodness, & Great Britain’, address at the Suffolk Interfaith Resource/East of England Faith Agency conference on Human Rights, Religious Rights, and British Values, West Suffolk College, Bury St Edmunds, 9/7/15 [QTP 101]
• ‘Politics: what is it good for?’, a series of days schools with the WEA across the East of England (from Cambridge to Norwich) 28/2/15 – 25/4/15. [QTP 100]
• 'Future of Democracy in Britain’, Trades Union Council, Wisbech & March, 21/3/15. [QTP 99]
• 'Collaborative Leadership’, Scottish Housing Regulator, 24/2/15. [QTP 98]
• 'Cooperation, Communities, & the Cambridge Commons’, Cooperative Party, Cambridge, 18/2/15. [QTP 97]
• 'Succeeding through Collaborative Leadership’, Civil Service College, 17/12/14. [QTP 96]
• 'Politics: so what are you going to do?’, the British Chinese Project, London: 29/11/14. [QTP 95]
• ‘Austerity & Scapegoat Politics’, University of the 3rd Age, Cambridge: 12/11/14. [QTP 94]
• ‘What has politics ever done for us?’, address at WEA (Eastern Region AGM): 8/11/14. [QTP 93]
• ‘Youth & Democracy’, presentation at ‘Round table on youth participation and impact in democratic decision-making’, World Forum for Democracy, Council of Europe, Strasbourg: 3/11/14. [QTP 92]
• ‘Democracy through the Looking Glass’, presentation to sixth formers, St Albans Girls’ School, Hertfordshire: 25/9/14. [QTP 91]
• ‘Managing Ministerial Expectations’, Civil Service College: 18/9/14. [QTP 90]
• ‘Thriving on Diversity’, Civil Service College: 9/9/14. [QTP 89]
• ‘The Art of Making Science Work’, Implementing Implementation Science conference, East London Consortium of Educational Psychologists, Cambridge: 28/7/14. [QTP 88]
• ‘Co-operation versus Con-Operation’, Annual Conference, Confederation of Cooperative Housing, Manchester: 11/7/14. [QTP 87]
• ‘Novel Exploration of Inequality’, Adult Learners Week, WEA East Midlands, Nottingham: 19/6/14. [QTP 86]
• ‘10 Things to Know About Machiavelli’, for the Documentary Film Makers Cooperative, London: 18/5/14. [QTP 85]
• ‘Government: 1974-2014’, 40 Years of Change, South Canonry, Salisbury Cathedral Close: 3/5/14. [QTP 84]
• ‘Aspiration, Aptitude, Availability', Careers Day address, University of Cambridge, 2/5/14. [QTP 83]
• ‘Why Vote’, WEA, Deciding Locally campaign, broadcast interview: 22/4/14. [QTP 82]
• ‘Leadership in Policy Development’, session for Indonesian delegation, Civil Service College, London: 20/3/14. [QTP 81]
• ‘Socialism and Education’, Lecture to PDDE (Politics, Development, & Democratic Education) Masters Students, University of Cambridge: 7/11/13. [QTP 80]
• ‘Enlightened Learning & the Cooperative Gestalt’, Power of Adult Learning, (joint conference by Learning Link Scotland, WEA Scotland, the Scottish Community Development Centre, Dyslexia Scotland, and Lead Scotland), University of Edinburgh: 23/10/13. [QTP 79]
• ‘Will this be the Plutocratic Century?’, CRASSH (Centre for Research in Arts, Social Sciences & Humanities), University of Cambridge: 13/5/13. [QTP 78]
• ‘Left with a Hard Choice’, Fabians & Cooperative Party event, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge: 7/5/13. [QTP 77]
• ‘Democracy: Lessons in Cooperative Problem-Solving’, Youth has Impact Conference, Field of Dialogue Foundation & Civis Polonus Foundation, Warsaw, Poland: 15/3/13. [QTP 76]
• ‘Cooperative Problem-Solving’, Take Part Network event What Next for Community-Based Learning, London: 6/3/13. [QTP 75]
• ‘Community Development at the Crossroads’, Keib Thomas Memorial Seminar, CDNL (Community Development Network, London), London Metropolitan University: 13/2/13. [QTP 74]
• ‘Education for Democracy: cooperative problem-solving’, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge: 12 &13 September/2012. [QTP 73]
• ‘Positive Change Through Social Action’, WEA Oxford: 18/5/12. [QTP 72]
• ‘Education with a Social Purpose’, WEA North East, Newcastle: 4/5/12. [QTP 71]
• ‘Whose Politics is it anyway?’, Chinese for Labour, London: 29/2/12. [QTP 70]
• ‘An Insider Look at Public Policy Development’, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge: 1/2/12. [QTP 69]
• ‘Reciprocity Lost: the origins, breakdown and renewal of reciprocal society’, WEA bi-annual conference, Nottingham University, Nottingham: 29/10/11. [QTP 68]
• ‘Democratic Participation and Learning Leadership’, Challenges of Civic Participation conference at the Sociology Institute, University of Warsaw, Poland: 15/4/11. [QTP 67]
• ‘Take Part in Changing Times’, Take Part Conference, London: 9/2/11. [QTP 66]
• ‘Top Ten Myths about Empowerment’, Faith Communities: Empowering Communities, the Church Action on Poverty National Conference, Broxbourne: 3/3/09. [QTP 65]
• ‘Empowerment in Britain’, session for delegation from South Africa, National School of Government, London: 11/2/09. [QTP 64]
• ‘Together We Can tackle the power gap’, The Frontiers of Innovation Conference: 20 Years of Innovation in Government, the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation, University of Harvard, USA: 1/4/08. [QTP 63]
• ‘Citizen Engagement’, Public Engagement in Local Government: Empowering Citizens to shape their Communities, CAPITA conference, London: 6/11/08. [QTP 62]
• ‘Faith & Cohesion’, Religion & Community Cohesion Workshop, Dept of Politics & International Relations, Royal Holloway College, University of London: 18/6/08. [QTP 61]
• ‘Learning from Communities’, IDeA sponsored conference on Community Consultation, 28/6/07. [QTP 60]
• ‘BBC and community empowerment’, presentation to BBC news editors, convened by Kevin Marsh (Editor of the Today Programme), London: 21/2/06. [QTP 59]
• ‘Re-engaging your community’, LGC (Local Government Chronicle) conference, London: 21/2/06. [QTP 58]
• ‘Building Stronger Communities’, NLGN/IDeA conference, London: 2/2/06. [QTP 57]
• ‘Community Engagement’, CPPS seminar, London: 26/1/06. [QTP 56]
• ‘Identity, Ethnic Diversity and Community Cohesion’, Runnymede & ESRC Identities Programme Roundtable, London: 21/9/05. [QTP 55]
• ‘Making Community Engagement a Priority in Citizenship Education’, joint DfES/Home Office seminar with Ministers, London: 15/6/05. [QTP 54]
• ‘The Politics of Civic Anxiety’, public seminar, the Centre for Advanced Study of the Social Sciences, University of Oxford: 18/5/05. [QTP 53]
• ‘Civil Renewal: Together We Can’, Joseph Chamberlain Lecture, Birmingham: 21/4/05. [QTP 52]
• ‘Neighbourhood Governance’, Fabian Society, LGIU, UNISON Policy Seminar, London: 10/2/05. [QTP 51]
• ‘Local Government and Civil Renewal’, CPPS conference on the future of local government, London: 14/12/04. [QTP 50]
• ‘Together We Can’, conference on community engagement and civil renewal with Home Secretary & other Ministers, London: 8/12/04. [QTP 49]
• ‘Civic Pioneers’, Home Office launch event, Birmingham: 9/9/04. [QTP 48]
• ‘The Role of Civil Renewal’, CLES Inclusive Regeneration Summer School, Manchester: 29/6/04. [QTP 47]
• ‘Higher Education and Community Partnerships’, the Annual Higher Education and Community Partnership Conference, University of London: 19/5/04. [QTP 46]
• ‘Civil Renewal: in theory & practice’, South West Regional Seminar, University of Plymouth: 13/5/04. [QTP 45]
• ‘Civil Renewal’, seminar with Home Secretary and the Home Office Ministerial team, London: 17/12/03. [QTP 44]
• ‘Power and Civil Renewal’, Urban Forum Annual Conference, London: 2/12/03. [QTP 43]
• ‘Communitarian Democracy’, Bertelsmann Stiftung, International Workshop on Participative Democracy, Berlin: 16/10/03. [QTP 42]
• ‘The Future of Community Development’, 21st Century Community Development conference, the Standing Conference for Community Development, Lougborough: 11/10/03. [QTP 41]
• ‘Social Democracy in the Global Age’, Fabian Society Roundtable: 21/5/02. [QTP 40]
• ‘Delivering Crime Reduction’, Ministerial Seminar, the Home Office, Queen Anne’s Gate, London: 9/1/02. [QTP 39]
• ‘Equality & Diversity’, launch of the Black & Minority Ethnic Network (East of England), Cambridge: 9/4/01. [QTP 38]
• ‘Tackling Crime Together’, Home Office Conference with the Home Secretary, Cambridge: 17/2/01. [QTP 37]
• ‘Crime Reduction’, national public policy seminar, London: 18/1/01. [QTP 36]
• ‘Citizenship at the community level’, Philosophical Quarterly conference, Citizens: Towards a Citizens Culture: 13/11/00. [QTP 35]
• ‘Forging a New Ireland: a communitarian approach to deepening democracy’, the Glencree Centre for Reconciliation, Summer School, Forging a Communitarian Ireland: The deepening of democracy and civil society, Ireland: 25/8/00. [QTP 34]
• ‘Inclusive communities and global governance’, 12th Annual Conference of the Society for Socio-Economics, London School of Economics: 8/7/00. [QTP 33]
• ‘Is there a Third Way to bridge Divided Communities?’, Citizens OnLine Conference, BAFTA, London: 23/5/00. [QTP 32]
• ‘What are Communities?’, Society for Applied Philosophy, Are Cities Communities? Workshop, Senate House, University of London: 4/3/00. [QTP 31]
• ‘What is Consultation about?’, Joined Up Listening conference, West Midlands Local Government Association: 24/11/99. [QTP 30]
• ‘The Progressive Path to Inclusive Communities’, the School of Public Policy, University of Birmingham: 23/11/99. [QTP 29]
• 'Inclusive Communities', United Nations Association Conference, The Making of the Third Millennium, St Edmundsbury Cathedral: 15/6/99. [QTP 28]
• 'Citizenship Education: communitarian versus individualist perspectives', Philosophy & Education Renewal Group, University of North London: 15/5/99. [QTP 27]
• 'Communitarianism, Power & Citizenship', Communitarian Summit, Washington, USA: 27/2/99. [QTP 26]
• 'Are there common values to be taught?', International CSV Learning and Serving Together Conference: 4/12/97. [QTP 25]
• 'The Future of Social and Moral Education', Communitarian Forum Workshop, St Edmunds College, Cambridge: 26/4/97. [QTP 24]
• 'Communitarian Politics: Past, Present & Future', Joint Conference for St John's and St Anne's, University of Oxford: 20/2/97. [QTP 23]
• 'Education for Citizens', seminar, the Philosophy of Education Society meeting, Cambridge: 30/1/97. [QTP 22]
• 'Democratic Schools', CSV Education Conference, Service Learning: 12/11/96. [QTP 21]
• 'Communitarian Management', the UK Management Development Network Seminar, London: 23/10/96. [QTP 20]
• 'Communitarianism', the Cambridge World Issues Group: 31/7/96. [QTP 19]
• 'Communitarianism & Humanism', the South Place Ethical Society: 14/1/96. [QTP 18]
• 'Communities, Communitarianism and Local Democracy', the ADC (Association of District Councils) Seminar on Community Governance: 15/12/95. [QTP 17]
• 'From Public-versus-Private to Communitarian Management', the Judge Institute of Management Studies, University of Cambridge: 9/11/95. [QTP 16]
• 'From Markets to Communities', the Local Government Information Services, national conference, Bedfordshire: 21/8/95. [QTP 15]
• 'Communitarian Marketing', Anglia Business School, Cambridge: 29/6/95. [QTP 14]
• ‘Crime & Society’, the Society for Applied Philosophy's 1995 Conference: 19/5/95. [QTP 13]
• 'Public Health: from Customers to Citizens', 5th Annual Symposium of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, Girton College, Cambridge: 31/3/95. [QTP 12]
• 'Interagency Charter', the Cabinet Office's Citizens Charter Conference: 5/12/94. [QTP 11]
• 'Marketing & the Public Sector', Oxford Brookes University's Business School Marketing Forum: 1/12/94. [QTP 10]
• ‘Citizens & Government Institutions’, national conference Cities of Pride: Rejuvenating Britain for the Third Millennium, Birmingham: 19/11/94. [QTP 9]
• 'Marketing & Competition in the Public Sector', the Judge Institute of Management Studies, University of Cambridge: 8/11/94. [QTP 8]
• 'Criminals and Citizens: the Quest for Responsibility', the Royal College of Psychiatrists' Philosophy Group: 24/11/93. [QTP 7]
• 'Citizenship and Participatory Democracy', the Centre for Citizenship Development's Open Workshop, St. Edmund's College, University of Cambridge: 6/11/93. [QTP 6]
• 'Marketing and Citizenship in the Public Sector', Anglia Business School: 4/11/93. [QTP 5]
• 'Raising Ethical Awareness in Large Organisations', the Inaugural Meeting of the Ethical Business Forum, London Business School: 26/10/93. [QTP 4]
• 'The Rise of Communitarianism', the Centre for Citizenship Development seminar, St. Edmund's College, University of Cambridge: 16/10/93. [QTP 3]
• 'Crime & Diminished Responsibility', the Society for Applied Philosophy's London Workshop: 6/3/93. [QTP 2]
• 'The Core Values of Public Service', the School of Public Policy, University of Birmingham: 7/5/91. [QTP 1]

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Politics & Lifelong Learning

Politics is often reduced by the media to the quarrels between and within political parties. But that is but a tiny part of the much wider struggle to resolve the many differences over how to solve the problems faced by society.

We need politics to bring about agreement on how we are to deal with those challenges that none of us alone could hope to overcome. Otherwise, the problem will simply persist; or someone powerful enough will impose a solution that may or may not work; or worse still, the problem becomes compounded by bitter conflicts over what should be done.

I have worked with WEA and other educational institutions over the years to help broaden understanding of politics, democracy, and government. In addition to the programmes that are already in place, I am now extending my support to anyone who would like to make use of one or more of the learning materials below:

• Public Issues: With a regular prompt to consider the issues raised in the latest ‘Question the Powerful’ essay (a new one is posted twice a month), you can share your ideas/queries in the comments section. Notifications of new essays will be sent to you once you have written your email address in the box on the top left of the ‘Question the Powerful’ homepage.

• Dystopian Fiction: If you prefer to explore political themes through novels that present alternative futures, then you are welcome to pick one from the ‘Synetopia Quest’ series and use it to engage others in a reading circle (any interpretative query can be emailed to the author directly). More details can be found here: http://kuanswonderland.blogspot.co.uk/

• Political Theory: For anyone interested in political ideas and how they relate to each other, there is the ‘Guide to Synetopia’, which lists a number of resources that can help to inform discussions about governance, cooperation, and democratic communities: http://hbtam.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/guide-to-synetopia.html

• Historical Review: You can also go on a journey through history with ‘Against Power Inequalities’ as your guide, so you can explore how power inequalities damaged society in the past and how they were countered. You can get the e-book or paperback here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Against-Power-Inequalities-progressive-struggle-ebook/dp/B00RQQYA5M/

Whichever option(s) you choose, read the materials that interest you most, invite a number of other people (from similar or diverse backgrounds/age groups etc) to join you in an informal discussion group, or register your interest in taking part in a WEA-wide learning circle.

You can contact me by email (htam.global [followed by] @talk21.com), and do share the link for this page with others who may be interested.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Question the Powerful: Essays

Full Listing (with theme category)
Set out below is a complete list of the essays posted on the Question the Powerful blog with the main theme of the piece in brackets. For a list of Henry Tam’s key writings (books and articles) published elsewhere, see ‘Henry Tam: Bibliography'.

No.199: The Politics of Deranged Generalisation (Con politics)
No.198: Keeping the Con in ‘e-CON-omics’ (Economics)
No.197: Dis-United Kingdom: 10 issues to watch (Democracy)
No.196: The Lawbreaker’s Mask (Con politics)
No.195: Education, Society & the Cooperative Gestalt (Education)
No.194: The Thoughtful Guide to Political Types (Electoral politics)
No.193: Terminate the Machines? (Economics)
No.192: 10 Ways to Subvert Legality (Power inequality)
No.191: Only Fools & Porsches (Con politics)
No.190: Moral Relativism & the Empathy Scale (Ethics)
No.189: A Strategy for Cooperators (Cooperative development)
No.188: There’s Something About Capitalism (Economics)
No.187: The Politics of Anti-Rationality (Con politics)
No.186: Flag, Freedom, & Family ... (Electoral politics)
No.185: Goodbye Utopia, Hello Synetopia (Progressive ethos)
No.184: Political Education with a Twist (Education)
No.183: Snide & Prejudiced: a tale of constitutional shenanigans (Con politics)
No.182: The ‘All-or-Nothing Fallacy’ of Polarised Politics (Democracy)
No.181: Synetopia: progress through cooperation (Progressive ethos)
No.180: Let’s Come Clean about Nuclear Waste (Environment & Energy)
No.179: Nietzsche, all too Nietzsche (Ethics)
No.178: Journey to the Real Centre of Politics (Progressive ethos)
No.177: Convert or Con Victim? (Con politics)
No.176: Plutocracy: a lesson for citizen education (Power inequality)
No.175: O Humanities, Where Art Thou? (Education)
No.174: The Public-Private Divide (Con politics)
No.173: Lifelong Learning & Everyday Governance (Education)
No.172: Left at the Identity Checkpoint (Progressive ethos)
No.171: Democracy at the Workplace (Cooperative development)
No.170: The Meaning of ‘Pro-Business’ (Con politics)
No.169: Money Can Buy You Votes (Electoral politics)
No.168: Remember: Together We Can (Solidarity & Diversity)
No.167: What’s in a Vote (Electoral Politics)
No.166: Thatcher, Europe & Referendum (Democracy)
No.165: Invasion of the Power Snatchers (Power Inequality)
No.164: Cooperation Unbound: a new model for democratic education (Education)
No.163: Politics & the Cooperative Gestalt (Cooperative development)
No.162: We are Spartacus – We are Syriza (Economics)
No.161: Davos’ Inferno (Power inequality [Satire])
No.160: Debunking Culture War (Progressive ethos)
No.159: Politics: what is it good for? (Education)
No.158: The Voter Vanishes (Democracy)
No.157: Between the Buddha & Camus (Progressive ethos)
No.156: The Con Identity (Con politics)
No.155: The Meekest Link (Cooperative development)
No.154: Revolution for Beginners (Democracy)
No.153: Six Degrees of Cooperation (Cooperative development)
No.152 The National Safety Fund explained (Welfare & Healthcare)
No.151: Experimentally Seeking Progress (Progressive ethos)
No.150: Keeping Democracy on its Toes
[interview with Jessica Crowe, Executive Director of the Centre for Public Scrutiny] (Democracy)
No.149: Question the Powerful: the political education project (Education)
No.148: QTP Resources for Political Education (Education)
No.147: We Are What We Eat [book review of Incredible! Plant Veg, Grow a Revolution: the story of Incredible Edible Todmorden, by Pam Warhurst and Joanna Dobson] (Community empowerment)
No.146: Politically ‘Incorrect’ or Morally Repugnant (Progressive ethos)
No.145: Cooperation Denial (Cooperative development)
No.144: Scapegoats United (Welfare & Healthcare)
No.143: In Solidarity or In Solitary (Global politics)
No.142: The Crook, the Bees, their Hive & its Haters [a fable] (Power inequality [Satire])
No.141: All Quiet on the Voting Front? (Electoral politics)
No.140: Rethinking Education [interview with Diane Reay, Professor of Education, University of Cambridge] (Education)
No.139: A History of the World in 500 words (Power inequality)
No.138: The Art of Exposing Emperors (Education)
No.137: Time for a Cooperative Government (Cooperative development)
No.136: Anarchy: Daydreams & Nightmares (Democracy)
No.135: Politics for Outsiders: an educational mission (Education)
No.134: Chinese Pride or Western Prejudice [book review of Chinese Whispers: why everything you heard about China is wrong by Ben Chu] (Global politics)
No.133: ‘Question the Powerful’: quincentenary of the 1514 watershed (Progressive ethos)
No.132: The Author Formerly Hated for ‘The Prince’ (Progressive ethos)
No.131: The Art of Nurturing Communities [book review of Community Research for Community Development, ed. by M. Mayo, Z. Mediwelso-Bendek, & C. Packham] (Community empowerment)
No.130: Who Needs Capability Assessment? (Welfare & Healthcare)
No.129: The Cooperative Gestalt (Cooperative development)
No.128: The Economics of Disability (Economics)
No.127: Who’s Afraid of Political Education? (Education)
No.126: How Do You Solve A Problem Like Syria? (Global politics)
No.125: The Loneliness of the Long Distance Teacher (Education)
No.124: The Reciprocity Test: Pros & Cons (Progressive ethos)
No.123: Bouncers for Cyber Clubs? (Freedom of speech and belief)
No.122: Downturn Abbey (Power inequality [Satire])
No.121: Anti-Social Enterprise (Con politics)
No.120: Oppose the War on Welfare (Welfare & Healthcare)
No.119: Chartist No. 6: the call for annual elections (Democracy)
No.118: Whose Money Is It Anyway? (Economics)
No.117: The Greed Tyranny (Con politics)
No.116: The ATOS Inquisition (Welfare & Healthcare)
No.115: Don’t Know Much About Politics? (Democracy)
No.114: Community Development at the Crossroads (Community empowerment)
No.113: The Power Hypothesis (Power inequality)
No.112: Communitarianism Revisited [co-written with Jonathan Boswell] (Progressive ethos)
No.111: No, Minister (Democracy)
No.110: Leave No One Behind (Progressive ethos)
No.109: Like to Teach the World to Vote? (Education)
No.108: Who’s Afraid of Father Christmas (Power inequality [Satire])
No.107: Tune into UN 194: the Sound of a Beautiful Resistance (Global politics)
No.106: Dreaming of a Dark Christmas (Education)
No.105: The Biggest Co-op of All (Cooperative development)
No.104: A Bomb for an Eye (Global politics)
No.103: The Crude, the Mad & the Ugly (Con politics)
No.102: A Message to America [from FDR] (Electoral politics)
No.101: The Powerful Can’t Hide [guest post by Ann Walker] (Power inequality)
No.100: Cooperative Problem-Solving: the key to a reciprocal society (Cooperative development)
No. 99: Who are the Wealth Creators? (Economics)
No. 98: Help Us Question the Powerful (Democracy)
No. 97: Unsure about the Start Our Children Get? (Family policy)
No. 96: Political OCD: is there a cure? (Con politics)
No. 95: The Targeting of ‘Troubled Families’ (Family policy)
No. 94: Your Power, Your Government (Democracy)
No. 93: Can the NHS Stay in the Race? (Welfare & Healthcare)
No. 92: Pyramid Hockey (Power inequality)
No. 91: Democracy’s Debt to Young People (Democracy)
No. 90: What kind of people are we? (Progressive ethos)
No. 89: Kuan’s Wonderland: a political fable (Education)
No. 88: Friends, Romans, Lend Me Your Euros (Economics)
No. 87: The Case for Cooperative Problem-Solving (Cooperative development)
No. 86: Where Next for Criminal Justice? [book review of Where Next for Criminal Justice, by David Faulkner and Ros Burnett] (Criminal justice)
No. 85: The Free Speech Conundrum (Freedom of speech and belief)
No. 84: I’m Super-Rich, Get Me into the White House (Electoral politics [Satire])
No. 83: Much Ado About Cooperating (Cooperative development)
No. 82: The Department for Wealth (Con politics [Satire])
No. 81: Welcome to the Premier League of Education (Education)
No. 80: Re-enter the Dragon (Global politics)
No. 79: Educating Fodder (Education)
No. 78: Santa & the City (Xmas Special) (Power inequality [Satire])
No. 77: Can Democracy Be Saved? (Democracy)
No. 76: What Next for the WEA? (Education)
No. 75: Corporate Flu (Con politics [Satire])
No. 74: Debt or No Debt (Economics)
No. 73: The Politics of Cultural Inclinations (Progressive ethos)
No. 72: Poor Circulation and Economic Disorder (Economics)
No. 71: The Lopsided Playing Field Power inequality)
No. 70: The Eton Redemption (Con politics [Satire])
No. 69: The Know-Nothing Executives (Democracy)
No. 68: The Nasty Media (Media)
No. 67: The Big Con (Con politics)
No. 66: A Tale of Two Strategies (Electoral politics)
No. 65: Left Disorientated? (Progressive ethos)
No. 64: The Joker to the Right (Con politics)
No. 63: Royal Family Values: a historical fact sheet (Power inequality)
No. 62: Memento Tory (Con politics)
No. 61: 68 places to change the Government’s mind (Electoral politics)
No. 60: From Wisconsin, With Love (Con politics [Satire])
No. 59: The Murdoch Empire Strikes Back (Media)
No. 58: SOS: Save Our NHS (Welfare & Healthcare)
No. 57: Beyond the Matrix (Con politics)
No. 56: Our Bacon Needs Saving (Progressive ethos)
No. 55: Deep Freeze Alert (Solidarity & Diversity)
No. 54: An Interview with ‘Father Christmas’ (Power inequality [Satire])
No. 53: On Strikers & Own Goals (Unions)
No. 52: Paint it Red (Con politics [Satire])
No. 51: Anger Mismanagement (Con politics)
No. 50: Another Coup on Animal Farm (Con politics [Satire])
No. 49: Against Power Inequalities (Power inequality)
No. 48: A Mad Tea Party’s Brewing (Con politics)
No. 47: The Ultimate Horror Show (Con politics)
No. 46: In Praise of Mo Tze (墨子) (Progressive ethos)
No. 45: Ever Tried Homeopathic Democracy? (Democracy)
No. 44: Begging the Charity Question (Solidarity & Diversity)
No. 43: The Denial Industry (Con politics)
No. 42: Mill, Dewey & Me (Progressive ethos)
No. 41: A Simple Equation (Power inequality)
No. 40: Interdependence Day (Global politics)
No. 39: The Fox & the BBC (Media)
No. 38: An Alliance to Promote Democracy (Democracy)
No. 37: Some Like it Thick (Solidarity & Diversity)
No. 36: Pride & Tiananmen (Global politics)
No. 35: Know Thy Goal (Progressive ethos)
No. 34: King John’s Lesson for the G20 (Global politics)
No. 33: Powerlessness can damage your health (Power inequality)
No. 32: Year of the Invisible Ox (Solidarity & Diversity)
No. 31: Unite or Perish (Global politics)
No. 30: The Pension Pirates (Con politics)
No. 29: The Anatomy of Change (Con politics)
No. 28: Axis of Stupidity (Con politics)
No. 27: The Freedom to Crash (Economics)
No. 26: Talk about Slavery (Power inequality)
No. 25: Thou Shall Make Money (Con politics)
No. 24: The Gene Code Lottery (Power inequality)
No. 23: The S Word (Democracy)
No. 22: The Good, the Bad and the Foreign (Progressive ethos)
No. 21: Between Nader and the Plastic Sea (Electoral politics)
No. 20: The Minorities Myth (Solidarity & Diversity)
No. 19: Wheat from the Chav (Con politics)
No. 18: Where’s our American vote? (Global politics)
No. 17: Let them eat bullets (Welfare & Healthcare)
No. 16: The Alpha Male Syndrome (Power inequality)
No. 15: Variations on a theme of ransom (Unions)
No. 14: The Crisis of Civic Disengagement (Democracy)
No. 13: What’s wrong with being all-powerful? (Power inequality)
No. 12: Together We Can (Community empowerment)
No. 11: Long live the Con (Con politics)
No. 10: Give restorative justice a chance (Criminal justice)
No. 9: Weapons of mass confusion (Global politics)
No. 8: Of frogs and men (Environment & Energy)
No. 7: What exactly is pro-family? (Family policy)
No. 6: Why single out the freedom of discussion (Freedom of speech and belief)
No. 5: Belief is not enough (Freedom of speech and belief)
No. 4: Who’s against the Enlightenment? (Progressive Ethos)
No. 3: Aren’t they all Human Values? (Solidarity & Diversity)
No. 2: Why tolerate the Power Gap? (Power inequality)
No. 1: Is Redemption Possible? (Ethics)

Friday, May 27, 2016

Together We Can: the practice of community empowerment

As the UK Government’s Head of Civil Renewal, I devised the national ‘Together We Can’ programme (2003-2010) as an action-learning exercise to empower citizens to cooperate with each other and with public bodies to solve shared problems, and improve their quality of life. Listed below are resources that will inform you of what the programme covered and the practices it promoted on the basis of their effectiveness in advancing community empowerment.

A selection of resources
These are all available to download for free from the given links:
• ‘Together We Can’ action plan: the cross-government plan with commitments in the key public policy areas.
Annex to ‘Together We Can’ action plan: with details of the proposed initiatives.
‘Together We Can’ 2005/2006 review: reports from the Secretaries of State and Ministers on progress in 12 Government Departments.
• ‘Guide Neighbourhoods’: how communities can learn cooperative problem-solving and civic activism from each other.
• ‘Take Part’: resources for ‘Active Learning for Active Citizenship’.
• ‘Quirk Review’: report on community management and ownership of public assets.
• ‘Asset Transfer Unit’: resources to support the transfer of assets to community-based organisations.
• ‘Participatory Budgeting’: resources to expand the use of participatory budgeting in deciding how to allocate public resources.

Supplementary Materials
Articles:
‘Rejuvenating Democracy: lessons from a communitarian experiment’: on the lessons from the ‘Together We Can’ programme and ‘Working with Communities’ initiative (first published in Forum Journal, Vol 53, Number 3, 2011).
• 'The Importance of Being a Citizen’ (Henry Tam): in Active Learning for Active Citizenship, ed. by John Annette & Marjorie Mayo, (NIACE, 2010)
• ‘Civil Renewal: the agenda for empowering citizens’ (Henry Tam), in Re-energizing Citizenship: Strategies for Civil Renewal, ed. by Gerry Stoker, Tessa Brannan, and Peter John, (Macmillan Palgrave, 2007).
Presentation:
• ‘Together We Can - tackle the power gap’, The Frontiers of Innovation Conference: 20 Years of Innovation in Government, the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation, University of Harvard, USA: 1/4/08: 'Innovations in Participation: Citizen Engagement in Deliberative Democracy’ (Henry Tam’s presentation begins at 33.40 minutes into the video)

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For a full listing of related resources, go to: Together We Can: resources for cooperative problem-solving

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Cooperative Gestalt: the practice of cooperative problem-solving

The cooperative gestalt is the mindset required to promote shared understanding and mutually supportive behaviour. During my time as Director of the Forum for Youth Participation & Democracy (Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, 2011-2015), I met with leading practitioners to establish the key ingredients that would enable the cooperative gestalt to flourish and cooperative problem-solving to spread. These include personal dispositions that need to be cultivated and organisational arrangements that should be put in place.

A selection of resources
'The Cooperative Gestalt': on the role of lifelong learning in developing a cooperative mindset (Question the Powerful, November 2013).
• ‘Cooperative Problem-Solving: the key to a reciprocal society’: on the key elements of successful cooperative problem-solving, as jointly agreed with a group of academics and practitioners (Question the Powerful, October 2012).
• ‘The Case for Cooperative Problem-Solving’: how cooperative problem-solving can help to tackle social, economic and environmental problems (Question the Powerful, May, 2012).
‘Cooperative Problem-Solving & Education': on the evidence for suggesting why cooperative problem-solving should be taught more widely (published by the Forum Journal, 2013).
Synetopia Protocol: a protocol for assessing how well any group or organisation is run to enhance the common wellbeing of its members through cooperation (2015).
’Guide to Synetopia’: a listing of short essays relating to the concept of synetopia and its applications to reforming society and institutions (2016).
'The Cooperative Gestalt Approach to CSR': practical implications for corporate social responsibility (2015).

Supplementary Materials
’Learning more about Cooperative Gestalt’: Notes from keynote speech, ‘Power of Adult Learning’ conference (University of Edinburgh, 23 October 2013).
'Niccolo Machiavelli’: an interview with Henry Tam on Machiavelli’s advice on civic republican leadership (2014).

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For a full listing of related resources, go to: Together We Can: resources for cooperative problem-solving

Monday, May 23, 2016

Serving the Public: the practice of democratic engagement

Except in cases where the capacity for decision-making and effective action can only be taken on a broader scale – national or even transnational, political issues should be addressed as close as possible to people at the local level. Based on my experience in charge of citizen engagement in local authorities (one, Braintree, selected as the best local authority in England in 1993; and the other, St Edmundsbury, where the ‘Working with Communities’ strategy I developed won a Best Practice Award from the Prime Minister in 1999) and, later as Deputy Director in the national Department for Communities & Local Government, I have written/commissioned a range of materials that may assist others in strengthening democratic engagement.

A selection of resources
These are freely available on the internet:
’Civic Pioneers Case Study Review’: case studies of collaborative working between local authorities and citizens to improve local quality of life. (2008)
'The S Word’: on what subsidiarity should mean in practice (2008).
• ‘Councillors Commission’: report with recommendations on how to improve the democratic role of elected local councillors and facilitate citizen participation (2007)
Civic Pioneers (report for the Civil Renewal Unit): an introduction to how a group of local authorities set about enhancing their democratic engagement with local people (2005).

Supplementary Materials
Putting Citizens First, with John Stewart (Municipal Journal/SOLACE – Society of Local Authority Chief Executives, 1997)
Marketing, Competition & the Public Sector (Longman 1994)
Citizenship Development: Towards an Organisational Model (LGMB – Local Government Management Board, 1994)
Serving the Public: customer management in local government (Longman: 1993)

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For a full listing of related resources, go to: Together We Can: resources for cooperative problem-solving

Monday, May 2, 2016

Guide to Synetopia

Instead of relying on a blueprint for a utopia wherein unjust behaviour and prejudiced dispositions can be designed out, progressive thinkers have put forward suggestions for the practical development of inclusive communities, participatory democracy, deliberative cooperation, and other related arrangements that enable people to attain on-going improvement to their governance. There is no final, perfect form that can guarantee pervasive fairness and prosperity; but there are mutually reinforcing elements that can together raise the likelihood that better outcomes will prevail for all. When these elements are actively cultivated in any form of human association – a school, a community group, a business, a state – they constitute what is called ‘synetopia’.

For an overview of the concept, see ‘Synetopia: progress through cooperation’.
For an outline of communitarian and cooperative ideas, and further resources that provide more detailed exposition, see 'Communitarianism and Synetopia'.
For an illustration of how synetopia can be applied as a checklist for organisational reviews, see Synetopia Protocol.

The 9 Key Elements of Synetopia

Each of the essays below covers the corresponding element in the synetopia model. To find out more, click on the selected title:
1: Shared Mission
2: You-and-I Mutuality
3: Nimble Membership
4: Educative Collaboration
5: Testing of Claims & Assumptions
6: Open Access to Information
7: Participatory Decision-Making
8: Impartial Distribution of Power
9: Accountability for Actions

Other related essays that may be of interest to you:

Six Degrees of Cooperation
Together We Can: resources for cooperative problem-solving
'Democracy at the Workplace'
A Place called Synetopia
'‘Synetopia Quest’'
Synetopia: why, what & how
Goodbye Utopia, Hello Synetopia

Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Vocation of a Philosophe

Not long ago a group of students at the University of Cambridge invited me to give a talk at the ‘Career Expo’ event about my eclectic vocational journey, which zigzagged through academic research and lecturing; policy work for local authorities; support for activist organisations; publications on politics, management practice, and global history; leading government strategies on matters ranging from crime reduction to civil renewal; and writing dystopian novels.

Afterwards, someone asked if there was a central thread to the path I had taken and if so, whether or not I would recommend it for others to follow.

On the question concerning a central thread, what may appear as an unconventional mix of activities is in essence the vocation of a philosophe. While it is common to think of ‘philosophes’ (as distinct from ‘philosophers’) as referring exclusively to the anti-establishment writers/intellectuals active in 18th century France, the characteristics that actually mark them out as philosophes, can be found in the careers of many others outside as well inside France, extending into the 19th century and beyond (e.g., Joseph Priestley, Mary Wollstonecraft, Thomas Jefferson, Robert Owen, George Eliot, William Morris, H. G. Wells, Albert Camus, to name but a few).

And I would certainly encourage anyone possessing the attitudes and aptitudes outlined below to embark on the vocation of a philosophe:

[1] Critical Empirical Reasoning
You are quick to spot dogmatic claims and good at debunking fallacious arguments. You reject assertions that rely on mere traditions or unverifiable revelations. Instead, you are systematic in applying empirical evidence to differentiate what warrants people’s belief from attempts to deceive the public with misleading pronouncements.

[2] Empathic Promotion of Reciprocity
You have a universal sense of empathy that is not bound by prejudices against any group of people. You recognise that reciprocity is fair and effective in enhancing the common good, and you are disposed to oppose discrimination and exploitation by reminding people of our shared humanity.

[3] Targeting Obstacles to Democratic Equality
You appreciate how the biased distribution of power can widen social divisions, and trap many in ignorance and oppression. You are driven by a concern to expose attempts to con people into surrendering control to a manipulative elite, and you are drawn to practical ways to empower all to shape the decisions that affect them.

[4] Spreading Educative Influence
You acknowledge the necessity of using force as a last resort if there is no other way to protect innocent lives. But in general you prefer to rely on education, in the broadest sense, to change people’s attitudes, help them learn to reason effectively, enlighten them of better options, and advise them of new approaches to try and test.

[5] Utilising Genre Flexibility
You are skilled at switching between means of educating minds – lecturing, informal talks, detailed exposition, popular polemics, dramatic fiction, reports and commentary, guidance on public policies, training, mentoring. You make use of a variety of genres and outlets to engage people rather than devoting yourself to a single discipline or craft.

As contemporary plutocracy is reviving the arrogance and excesses of the Ancien Régime, we need philosophes more than ever to detoxify the oppressive atmosphere that deifies the superrich and and demonises vulnerable scapegoats. With indefatigable philosophes dispelling ignorance and prejudice, and showing how a better future is possible, we may yet see the changes we desperately need without having to endure the madness of a violent revolution.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Synetopia: why, what & how

According to social pedagogy, learning should engage with people holistically by connecting with their heart (emotional sensitivity), head (cognitive awareness), and hands (practical know-how).

The ‘Question the Powerful’ political education resources follow this approach in addressing three sets of issues concerning society and its governance. Central to them is the didactic model of synetopia and the related ethos of ‘question the powerful’. The three strands are:
• Why should we be concerned? (Civic Feelings)
• What would be a better alternative? (Political Thoughts)
• How could we bring about changes? (Democratic Actions)

Why question the powerful?

The powerful are more likely to act without adequate justification if the people whose lives they affect either take little notice of what they do, or routinely misunderstand what is going on. People’s attention needs to be roused and their sensitivity sharpened if they are to tune into what consequences are likely to follow from proposed policies. Their vigilance is the first line of defence against the irresponsible actions of those with power.

Fiction is a valuable tool to engender civic feelings because imaginative tales can not only stimulate stronger emotional responses than mere facts and figures, but they enable educators to explore contested matters in an alternate reality safe from accusations of party political bias.

For novels written to highlight contemporary political challenges, noted for their pace and originality in raising questions about a variety of dubious societal trends, look up the Synetopia Quest dystopian series.

What to question the powerful about?

To be effective in questioning those with power, we have to focus on the purpose of holding them to account, and grasp what would differentiate responsible deliberations from flawed responses. Without the necessary understanding, wise counsel might end up being rejected, while exploitative measures could escape scrutiny.

A coherent philosophy provides a basis for the development of critical political thoughts. This does not mean that everything has to be timelessly entrenched, but what in the light of the latest available evidence stands up best to rational analysis would remain in place unless it is superseded by new findings.

For academic resources that set out the principles of assessing human interactions and where they should be improved, a historical review of what happened when the obstacles to their advancement were allowed to remain, and the roots of interpersonal responsibility, explore the Synetopia Theory of progressive communitarianism.

How to question the powerful?

Organisation is indispensable to ensure the questioning of the powerful will lead to constructive responses and appropriate changes. Firing off questions or expressing disagreement without having built a structure and culture of mutual explanations may not simply be ineffectual, but can be counter-productive.

A systematic approach to developing responsive communicative relations is needed to underpin democratic actions. This is to be applied first to the groups we can most readily influence, extended to other organisations to reshape their ethos, and then utilised in joining forces with others to seek answers from institutions that are not yet fully open to collaborative working.

For practical guidance on the steps to take to improve collective arrangements, and the techniques that would facilitate deliberative exchanges – to build an ever widening circle of enquiring citizens – see the Synetopia Protocol for cooperative working.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Accountability for Action

All the other elements that would enable any given human association to develop in line with synetopia rely on people being assigned responsibilities to sustain them, and there being a process to hold them accountable for their subsequent actions.

Many organisations fail because not all their members fully understand what they are expected to do; are equipped and motivated to carry out their duties; or are conscientious enough not to breach their obligations. Free riders may think they can leave it to others to do what needs to be done and they just sit back and reap the benefits when these come through. Exploiters may try to deceive and manipulate others to do what serves their own interests at the expense of others in the organisation.

To prevent the above from happening, a robust accountability system is essential to check that members fulfil the responsibilities they have agreed to take on, and intervene appropriately when they are not. No organisation can function well with some members agreeing to rules to bind others, but discarding them whenever it suits them personally.

To be effective, an accountability system must be clear what type of penalty it will administer for different kind of violation; what reward it may offer for certain contributions beyond the routine; thorough in its detection and investigation process; and consistent in its implementation.

All members must know at the outset the basic guarantees of membership, the duties that come with them, what can be earned as extra, and what may be lost if particular orders or rules are not complied with. The instructions and regulations should be simplified to aid understanding and avoid costly new layers of legal or quasi-judicial interpreters emerging to slow down, and often confuse, the accountability process.

Transparency and proportionality are critical ingredients as organisations can be corrupted by exploitative influence that diverts accountability attention from the most serious violations committed by those with the greatest power, to relatively minor infringement attributable to those with little influence. In businesses, this can be seen with board members embezzling huge funds while demanding priority be given to stopping a few workers suspected of clocking in late by a few minutes. At a societal level, there is the familiar problem with some in government preferring to cut resources from investigating wealthy tax evaders, and divert them to tracking the much smaller amounts defrauded by benefit claimants.

Finally, the guardian of probity must themselves be guarded against too. And experience would suggest that rather than having one all-powerful team or agency that no one else can hold to account, it is far more reliable to have a plurality of teams/agencies that can provide checks and balance to each other. Furthermore, independent panels of professional auditors/judges and non-expert workers/citizens should also be given a role in reviewing the work of those who routinely hold others to account. Without third party oversight, there is a serious risk that over time those with the power to hold others to account will become unaccountable to everyone else in the organisation or the country.

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Checklist of Appraisal Questions:
Are there transparent electoral or selection process to replace those with positions of authority?
How easy is it to detect unjustifiable actions and call for investigation and objective judgement?
Are there reliable mechanisms for all to trigger to summon potential wrongdoers to account for their actions?
Are members supported in being vigilant in challenging decisions that appear to be illegitimate?
Do some stay in positions of power regardless of the severity and frequency of concerns raised?
Are some suspected of placing their own personal interests and/or those who bribe them above the collective interests of the group?

[For a complete list of essays covering the 9 ‘SYNETOPIA’ elements, look up ‘Guide to Synetopia’]

Friday, January 8, 2016

Impartial Distribution of Power

To provide incentives to those who have to undertake harder tasks, or to establish the authority for those charged with overseeing the delivery of strategies, it is necessary to grant more power to some in an organisation or a country. But the concentration of power in some must be only for generally agreed objectives, and none should be allowed to use that power as a basis to accumulate even more power to the extent that they become a threat to others.

All accounts of human interactions around the world testify to the danger of some acquiring so much more power than others that they can manipulate, exploit and oppress them at will. The only way to prevent any social grouping – large or small – from being usurped by a powerful elite is to build in a process to review the balance of power and redistribute it impartially on an on-going basis.

Such a process has to be underpinned by a network of arbitration backed by the collective power of the entire membership. The network should include levels of appeal mechanism but no individual or teams of individuals can take it upon themselves to override the final arbitration.

Any attempt to secure greater power (in terms of arms, wealth, status or any other form of resource) must be assessed to see if it is merited and necessary. In some cases, there may be short term or emergency reasons why a few have to be given substantial power to deal with a pressing problem. But in such cases, the transfer of power must only be temporary, and reversed as soon as possible.

There will be occasions when it is argued that there is a call for significantly greater power and for it to be on a virtually permanent basis because the challenge in question is a long-term one. If the argument is valid, then the power balance in the organisation should be reviewed to ensure that the few who are entrusted with much more power will nonetheless not be able to use it to threaten or repress other members.

It is likely that such reviews will lead to a redistribution of power involving a mixture of channelling of power/resources to those in the organisation who would otherwise become too vulnerable through their relative lack of power; and strengthening particular arbitration agencies so that neither attempted threats nor bribes are likely to infringe on the impartiality of those agencies acting on behalf of the whole membership.

History has shown that if the power gap between people is allowed to widen inexorably, it will increase the scope and temptation for the powerful few to impose their will on others, and at the same time weaken everyone else’s ability to stand up to such an encroachment. It has shown that it would be a mistake to think that untenable power gaps can only be removed from dismantling all power structures. Organisation for social, economic and political development requires formal power relations. But such relations can be democratised and sustained with the help of dedicated and thorough review and redistribution of power (see, for example, ‘Against Power Inequalities: a history of the progressive struggle’).

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Checklist of Appraisal Questions:
Are there safeguards in place to stop individuals or sections in the group accumulating too much power in relation to others?
Is there a regular and effective redistribution of power?
Are concentrated powers granted for emergencies taken back in due course?
Are there checks and balances so that no one can hold others to ransom by threats?
Is dissent generally suppressed?
Do some members show fear, resentment, distrust towards the leadership?

[For a complete list of essays covering the 9 ‘SYNETOPIA’ elements, look up ‘Guide to Synetopia’]

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Participatory Decision-Making

The synetopia approach to social organisation requires key elements of how the organisation functions to be so shaped that they will reflect the mutual concerns and serve the common interests of its members. The shaping of these elements in turn depends on participatory decision-making.

Many people in positions of authority have in the past tried to dismiss the involvement of others in the decision-making of their organisations as time consuming, ill-informed, and ineffective. But the accumulated evidence in many fields (e.g., education, commerce, health, economic development, government) has shown that when people are deliberately engaged with a competent facilitator, bad decisions are reduced, mistakes minimised, efficiency is increased, and satisfaction with outcomes is consistently higher (for more on this, see ‘Together We Can’ resources).

What organisations should avoid are clumsy and often counter-productive attempts to ‘involve’ their members in making decisions without any understanding of what works and what does not. These range from asking people to vote for bureaucratic positions that no one has asked for and few know anything about (e.g., when citizens were asked to elect Police & Crime Commissioners, invented by a government to circumvent the existing police authorities, the average turnout was just 15% [2012 figures]); to packing disgruntled people into a large room, talking at them at length, before asking them to give their views on the limited options on offer. Other flawed practices include circulating dense documents or inviting comments on proposals without any relevant context.

For participatory decision-making to work, four components need to be in place. First, all those affected by the decision should have the opportunity, with the help of a facilitator, to express their concerns. Under conditions of openness and equal respect, everyone who has a relevant point to make should be given a hearing, and no one who is abusive or seeking to dominate discussions should be allowed to disrupt proceedings.

Secondly, participants should be enabled to hear from and question witnesses, experts, and anyone else currently assigned a specific responsibility to deal with the issue under discussion. This is to ensure relevant consideration is given to what possible solutions there might be.

Thirdly, participants should be encouraged to contribute any suggestion of their own, discuss with each other how conflicting positions can be resolved, and explore the implications of mutual concessions and support, before prioritising the options they are willing to support. 

Finally, responsibilities and resource implications are to be agreed for carrying out the decision and for reporting back on their impact in practice. The feedback will then form the basis of a review of the decision, and inform whether further changes need to be considered.

Efforts are required to ensure marginalised voices are not ignored. Attention is needed to identify, and if necessary train up, facilitators who can be both firm and empathetic. Tension and conflict have to be sensitively resolved, not suppressed, to bring about consensus. Where large numbers are involved, representative selection or proportionate election may have to be used to obtain groups wherein meaningful deliberations can take place. But since the net effect is to cut out potentially costly mistakes and improve overall satisfaction, participatory decision-making should be an integral part of any organisation.

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Checklist of Appraisal Questions:
Are the procedures for decision-making clear to all members?
How extensive are training and participation opportunities made available?
How effective are they in ensuring that no one will be ignored or disrespected?
Does the joint decision-making apply to how to divide and distribute the resources generated by the group?
Do a significant number of members either lack the information or skills to make sensible decisions, or decline to become involved in decision making altogether?
Can decisions be challenged fairly without vexatious disruptions?

[For a complete list of essays covering the 9 ‘SYNETOPIA’ elements, look up ‘Guide to Synetopia’]