On Friday, 8 November, the Department put together a full half-day of events as part of the ESRC national Festival of Social Sciences. Welcoming upwards of 200+ students between the ages of 17 and 20 from several local secondary schools in Canterbury and beyond, a variety of quizzes on the iconography of Europe, including EU flags and features of the euro were used by Dr Amelia Hadfield to introduce students to EU basics. This was followed by a brief overview of the EU institutions, and another quiz to test students on general knowledge and their ability to take in this small lecture. Students were then divided into five working groups, and given a brief overview on EU reforms to the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), principally the introduction of a contentious Financial Transactions Tax (FTT) among 11 EU MS in 2014.
Leading off with a brief introductory lecture delivered by Dr Hadfield on the pros and cons of the FTT, students then tackled the policy briefing of their own group (ranging from the European Commission to the British Banker’s Association to the Greens), and to return within 45 minutes with a clear idea as to whether (and on what basis) their real-life counterparts would support or oppose the bill. The students threw themselves into this task, and produced some very robust responses to the entire group, followed by a final vote in which the FTT was adopted, by a slim margin! After dinner on-campus, the evening’s events continued in the form of a Roundtable exploring the overall theme of the day, namely ‘Should We Stay or Should We Go?’ Is it time for Britain to Leave the EU? The Roundtable proved an extremely lively event, with emphatic presentations on either side of this crucial and timely question by Dr Mark Bennister (UK politics); Dr Amelia Hadfield (EU Foreign Policy); Dr Soeren Keil (defending the Euro-sceptic viewpoint); Dr Laura Cashman (EU and migration); and Lib Dem candidate for Canterbury and Whitstable, James Flanagan. Judging by the lively atmosphere throughout, the high quality of questions from the audience, and the positives reactions from a number of teachers afterwards, we judged the entire ESRC event to be a real great success.