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Think at Oxford 2017

Event Information

From: 1st Apr 2017

To: 2nd Apr 2017

Think at Oxford 2017

Balliol College, Oxford

1 -2 April 

The weekend theme is a continuation of what we have being doing, the history of ideas, this year we are starting to look at the 1970s.  The particular theme will cover notions of “Justice, Ethics and Belief” that emerged as significant in that decade.


Thinking at Oxford … 

For many centuries, generations of enquiring minds have quietly and steadily made their way to Oxford. Mensans – being quick of mind themselves – have picked up on this tradition, and established for themselves a similar pilgrimage. For several years now, a springtime gathering of Mensans has met to forge friendships through intelligent conversation ….. and even to forge intelligence through friendly conversation.

For the past few years we’ve been exploring the history of ideas, taking each decade of the twentieth century in turn, and reviewing its significant events, achievements and tragedies – and their resonance for our lives today. This approach allows for a great variety each year: we select topics from literature and the arts, the sciences and philosophy, politics, economics, sociology and psychology. To help frame this we remind ourselves of key influences from the past as we move towards the possibilities of the future.

The choice of topics within these categories is informed by members’ wishes. The general format is to have a guest speaker for the Saturday evening talk, with Mensans giving the other talks. The aim is to fulfil the participatory ideal of Mensans drawing on their own expertise, debating with each other on equal terms. The standard of questions has always been impressive, and we promote the practice of discussion amongst the audience – which always seems to extend to wide-ranging conversations over coffee breaks, meals, quadrangles and walks in Oxford.

So the tenor is participatory. Feedback is consistently that there is a friendliness and expectation of intelligent conversation, somewhat more so than at other organised Mensan gathering.

The Theme The Venue The Speakers

Last year we looked at the 1960s notions of counterculture and social revolution, terms synonymous with that decade. This year we will explore “The Seventies” a period often viewed as one of pivotal changes following the socially progressive changes of the 1960s.

Read more here

This year we are once again at Balliol College.Founded in 1263, Balliol College is one of the oldest colleges in Oxford. It is named after John de Balliol, lord of Barnard Castle, located in present-day Teeside.

Read more here

Seven great speakers over three days including an offsite philosophy café at the Wadham Room, Kings Arms – hosted by Oxford member Wybo Wiersma and a speaker guest speaker: Dr Ziba Mir-Hosseini whose talk is titled 'Islamic Feminism, Today and Tomorrow'. 

Read more here

The Schedule

  Saturday, 1 April 
10:15 Tea/coffee
10:45 Welcome, formal introduction and plans for weekend
11:00 Knowledge & Belief – Keith Jones
12:00 Bioethics: Medical Advances Challenges Moral Certainties – Graham Kyle
13:00 Lunch (not included) and free time*** The afternoon is free for you to explore Oxford ***
16:00 Tea/coffee
16:30 1970s Politics and the Power of Persuasion – Austin Caffrey
17:50  Break – bar opens—freshen up for dinner etc.
18:30  The Roger Farnworth discourse & dinner – to include guest speaker:Dr Ziba Mir-Hosseini on “Islamic Feminism, Today and Tomorrow”
19:30 Dinner in the Old Common Room
21:00  Philo café – to further discuss topics of the day and more …
  Sunday, 2 April
08:00 Breakfast 
09:30 Welcome - plans for the day
09:45 Sex & Death: Law and Medical Ethics – Barbara Harrison
10:45 Eye Witness Testimony – Mike Griffiths
11:45 Tea/Coffee
12:15 Rawls & Nozick – John Fender
13:15  “Justice, Ethics & Belief” closing
13:30 Feedback and plans for next year
14:00 Departure – Optional lunch (not included) at The King’s Arms

    Pick your option here

1 Saturday night B&B only, dinner, standard room £149.00
  Includes all Sat & Sun talks , tea/coffee/biscuits, Saturday evening dinner and Sunday breakfast.    
2 Saturday night B&B only, dinner, en-suite room. £159.00
  Includes all Sat & Sun talks, tea/coffee/biscuits, Saturday evening dinner and Sunday breakfast.  
3 To include Option 1, adding Friday night B&B (31st March) £209.00
  B&B standard room and Saturday breakfast.  
4 To include Option 2, adding Friday night (31st March) £229.00
  B&B en-suite room and Saturday breakfast.  
5 Saturday night B&B standard room. £105.00
  Includes all talks, tea/coffee/biscuits, but NOT Saturday dinner.   
6 Saturday night B&B en-suite room. £115.00
  Includes all talks, tea/coffee/biscuits, but NOT Saturday dinner.  
7 No accommodation. £99.00
  Includes all Saturday (incl. evening speaker) & Sunday talks, Saturday dinner, and tea/coffee/biscuits.   
8 Saturday talks (+evening speaker) only. £35.00
  Includes tea/coffee/biscuits.  
9 Sunday talks only. £19.00
  Includes tea/coffee/biscuits.  


Thank you for your interest. Bookings for this conference are now closed.

For further information

telephone Mensa HQ on 01902 772771, option 3 during office hours. Monday-Friday, 9am-4pm.

Download a paper copy of the booking form here

Organiser Information

Austin Caffrey