An account of our student-led 2018 Colloquium, by Cumberland Lodge Scholar, Sarah Clowry, a PhD student at the University of Durham

Published Date: 
Thursday, 20 December 2018
Sarah Clowry, Cumberland Lodge Scholar

The 2018 Cumberland Colloquium took place on the 7-8 October 2018 and brought together thinkers and practitioners in the fields of politics, philosophy and journalism for a range of discussions around the theme, 'The Politics of (Post) Truth'.

Although challenging to define, ‘post-truth’ alludes to the alleged decline in the influence of facts upon public opinion and the parallel rise in appeals to emotions and personal beliefs.

The event opened with a poster competition, showcasing the work of early career researchers, followed by the keynote panel. Journalist James Ball and Julian Baggini, philosopher and author, enjoyed a lively conversation, exploring the very concept of ‘truth’, our rapidly evolving media ecosystem, the opacity of many aspects of journalism and, relatedly, the public’s plummeting levels of trust in traditional sources of information. 

The second day provided the opportunity for speakers and delegates to engage with the topic in greater depth through a series of panel discussions. A few key debates emerged. Delegates were particularly divided over the extent to which the phenomenon of ‘post-truth’ should be viewed negatively, with some arguing that contemporary media and political landscapes represent a democratising force. Academia and mainstream news outlets also came under fire, criticised for their negativity, bias and alienation from the public, while the value of ‘fact-checking’ initiatives was examined as well.

A roundtable session closed the colloquium, allowing attendees to reflect and consider ways forward; the debate is far from concluded, and the Lodge will doubtless return to this theme in the coming years. 

Find out more

Find out more about our Cumberland Colloquia scheme here. It gives early career academics and postdoctoral students from universities across the UK the opportunity to plan and deliver an interdisciplinary, academic conference at Cumberland Lodge, on a topic that relates to our charitable objectives, with support and mentoring from our Education team.