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Living life on a global scale

A unique new centre, being launched at The University of Nottingham, is to provide a focus for research and teaching aimed at answering one of the most fundamental questions facing us as world citizens— how should we live?

The Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice, the first of its kind in the UK, will bring together leading researchers, students and key figures from non-governmental organisations (NGOs), activist networks and civil society groups to examine issues surrounding the concept of justice in the face of globalisation.

The work of the centre will cover every aspect of social and global justice — everything from war, peace and terror and international human rights to democracy, protest and anarchy.

Professor Simon Tormey, director of the new centre, said: “We're not on a mission to save the world, we don't have a political agenda and we're not Bono. What we do want the centre to be is a space for dialogue where we can look at how theory can translate into practical solutions for real-world problems.

“We want our students to connect with the world around them and appreciate how many of these issues are relevant and have a huge impact on peoples' lives. It's no longer just national and international organisations putting social justice on the agenda, it's filtering down so that people are taking action at a micro level too, for example, using tactics such as political consumerism to boycott products manufactured by companies using sweat shops.”

The new centre will be introducing new postgraduate courses in the field of justice — including a Masters (MA) in Social and Global Justice and an MPhil and PhD that will offer doctoral topics that could include 'Implications of GM Foods on International Relations' and 'US Policy-Making Towards Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Assistance'.

In addition to this, it will offer an extensive seminar programme featuring speakers who are leaders in the fields of social and global justice and activism, conference and workshops dedicated to the subject and outreach events linking its academic work to local networks and global initiatives such as the World Social Forum.

At the core of the centre, will be work to introduce global issues into the classroom at all levels. It is host to the international initiative 'Open Spaces for Dialogue and Enquiry', which is a project dedicated to the development of materials, training and events to support teaching in teacher, adult, higher and secondary education.

As a celebrated international institution, with campuses in China and Malaysia and overseas students from almost 150 countries, the centre will help to inform The University of Nottingham when developing its global perspective.

The centre has received backing from senior management and the University's Graduate School to develop a suite of modules on social and global justice that could be incorporated across all of the University's courses, while it will also be working with individual faculties to develop subject-specific materials that will address justice issues relevant to their field.

It will aim to put students' studies, and the University's international activities, into a global context and to encourage education as forum for an exchange of views, experiences and perspectives.

Professor Tormey added: “A global institution does not impose one view, one way of life, or form of knowledge on the rest of the world. It creates a space in which 'the rest of the world' can examine what we hold to be important and true in a safe, enjoyable and productive relationship of equals. Only once we have created such spaces will we be able to claim that we are becoming global.”

The new centre will be officially opened with an inaugural lecture by the leading social theorist David Harvey on Thursday December 7 from 5pm to 6.15pm at B63, Law and Social Sciences Building on University Park campus. The lecture is open to all and anyone interested in attending should RSVP by e-mail to

Emma Thorne | alfa
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