Monday, 20 July 2009

Are we there yet? Facing the future anew - Merriman Summer School 2009

Cumann MerrimanEvery generation has decisions to take about its future, its priorities, its place in the world. For this generation of political leaders, policy makers and citizens these decisions appear more complex than they have done for a long time. The quickly assumed certainty of the so-called Celtic Tiger period has given way to a worrying uncertainty about tomorrow. This is the focus of the School in 2009. What are the challenges we face? There will be a little retrospection and Diarmaid Ferriter, noted historian and writer, will offer an insight into the context of half a century ago to set the scene for the rest of the school which will look to the future. Education is, as ever, a key issue and a determinant of so much of what is possible. Tom Collins, Professor of education at NUI Maynooth will consider the imperatives of educational policy. Maureen Gaffney, well known to readers and listeners as a psychologist and commentator, will consider the psychological and social character of the changing context. We do not live in isolation and a sub-theme in the School will be our relations with others. Lord Paul Bew - who is Professor of Politics at Queen’s University Belfast will look at developments in Northern Ireland and between the two jurisdictions on the island. Noel Dorr, former Secretary-General of the Department of Foreign Affairs and well known to Merriman Schools, will look at the issues that face Ireland in shaping its foreign policy in a world whose centre of gravity may be changing significantly. Brigid Laffan, Principal of the College of Human Sciences in UCD, will address the issue of Ireland’s place in Europe and, specifically, its place in the EU. Cherishing the children of the nation equally has been something of a slogan since its first use more than ninety years ago. It means different things to different people. But children have been very much in the thoughts of everybody in recent times. Emily Logan is the Ombudsman for Children and will reflect on the state’s policies and priorities in their regard. Literature and culture will not be overlooked and Cilian Fennell will consider where our sense of self is finding contemporary expression. Nor will the topic that has dominated our consciousness for much of the past year - economics – be overlooked. The science that has seemed more dismal than usual in recent times has assumed a more central place in our lives. Frances Ruane is Director of the Economic and Social Research Institute. She will be joined by John McHale, just returmed from Canada to become Professor of Economics in NUI Galway, and Michael Smyth, Head of the School of Economics at the University of Ulster. Together they will reflect on the future focus and direction of policy in this vital and pressing area. And to reinforce the reality that we are not shaped by bread alone. Seán Freyne, Professor Emeritus of Theology at Trinity College, will look at issues facing religion. The School will have the well-established elements of Renew Your Irish with Eoghan Ó hAnluain, seminars in Irish and English given by academics, journalists, senior figures in the public service and covering topics such as the relationship between Ministers and senior civil servants, Arts policy, language planning, the library in the digital age, the future of the media, Gaeltacht development, the position of the vulnerable in current circumstances and developments in Northern Ireland. The midday poetry readings – Cúirt an Mheán Lae – that have become a tradition since their introduction in the bicentennial school in 2005 will feature again when poets will include John F Deane, Enda Wyley, James Harpur and Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh.
Merriman Summer School 16-22 August 2009.
Venues: Clare Museum and Glór Theatre, Ennis.
Further Information: 086 382 0671
Download summer school programme (PDF file)

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