Millions To View Free Speech Debate

26 November 2010

The Doha Debates

I am delighted to have been invited to join The Doha Debates. The subject of the discussion is the relationship of free speech to education 

Professor Dennis Hayes, Head of the Research Centre for Education and Career Development at the University of Derby.

Professor Dennis Hayes

A leading Derby Education academic is preparing for a global audience of up to 400 million viewers after being invited to the Middle East to join the panel on the unique Doha Debates series.

Professor Dennis Hayes, Head of the Research Centre for Education and Career Development at the University of Derby, will join in the forthcoming debate to be recorded on Monday December 6 entitled: 'This House believes education is worthless without freedom of speech'.

The panel line-up is:

  • For the motion - Professor Tariq Ramadan (Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford University) and Professor Dennis Hayes (University of Derby)
  • Against the motion - Dr Nagla Rizk (American University of Cairo) and Kevin Watkins, UNESCO.

The Debates are sponsored by the Qatar Foundation which seeks to empower the people of Qatar, and help it to become a leader in innovative education and research.

For the first time in their lives, many young Arabs have their say on key political issues affecting the Islamic world and Middle East through The Doha Debates and their views are broadcast on TV to millions of viewers around the world - at a time when some governments are tightening restrictions on press freedom.

The Doha Debates were the 2010 winners of the Association for International Broadcasting (AIB) awards for Best Specialist Genre. The Doha Debates were founded in 2004. Past speakers have included President Bill Clinton, Shimon Peres, Amre Moussa, Ayad Allawi, Mahmoud Al Zahar and Sir Malcolm Rifkind.

Dennis Hayes said: "I am delighted to have been invited to join The Doha Debates. The subject of the discussion is the relationship of free speech to education. For me, free speech is the foundational freedom and without it education becomes mere training. I will defend free speech without any caveats; free speech with no 'ifs' or 'buts!'"

Dennis is one of the UK's leading experts on the power of debate and academic freedom within education. He founded the campaign group Academics For Academic Freedom (AFAF) and edited and contributed to the 2009 Special Edition of the British Journal of Education Studies on Academic Freedom. Dennis is on the Editorial Board of the Times Higher Education magazine.

Professor Hayes taught in secondary schools, special schools and further education before moving into teacher education. He is the Honorary Secretary of the Standing Committee for the Education and Training of Teachers (SCETT) and was the first president of the University and College Union in 2006-7.

The Doha Debates are based on a centuries-old format, refined by the famous Oxford Union. They focus on a single, controversial motion, with two speakers for and against. Once they have outlined their arguments, each speaker is questioned by the chairman and the discussion is then opened up to the audience for argument and a final electronic vote.

The 350-strong audience will be drawn mainly from Qatar's student body and come from all over the Arab and Islamic worlds. In several debates they have adopted radical and unexpected positions.

Although the Debates are financed by the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, no government, official body or broadcaster has any control over what is said at the sessions or who is invited.

The debate will have its first broadcast on BBC World News and be subsequently aired on PBS New York, The Real News Network and MHz Networks which syndicates to mainly PBS stations in the US. They are also broadcast on Geo TV in Pakistan and Bosnia TV.

View  more details about the forthcoming Doha Debate or contact Patrick Forbes via email: patrick@forbes-associates.com, Find out more about the  Qatar Foundation visit.

For more information contact Deputy Head of Corporate Relations Simon Redfern on 01332 591942 or 07748 920038 or email s.redfern@derby.ac.uk

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