skip to content

Cambridge prepares for the first bumper weekend of Festival of Ideas

How do we stem the trafficking of people across Europe? Who can really say what to whom on the internet? What are the distinct opportunities and challenges for 21st Century families?  

These questions and more will be explored during the first packed weekend of the 2016 Cambridge Festival of Ideas that will see over 60 events on Saturday being hosted at the Sidgwick site and venues across the city centre. In addition, there are numerous events for children and families.

It is estimated that there are more victims of human trafficking today than there were during the transatlantic slave trade. Victims include men and women, the old and the young and they can be exchanged multiple times for profit. This pervasive crime has been a priority for law enforcement agencies, governments and policymakers in several countries for over a decade, but none has managed to eradicate or even curtail it so far.

In Human trafficking: transnational partnerships experts from across Europe will debate how countries can work together to stem the trafficking of human beings across the continent in this high-profile panel discussion. With Director of Europol Rob Wainwright; Andrew Boff, author of Shadow City – Exposing Human Trafficking in Everyday London; Philip Ishola, Former Director of the Counter Human Trafficking Bureau; and Fiona Hill, Joint Downing Street Chief of Staff, lead author of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and author of A Modern Response to Modern Slavery Report.  The event is chaired by George Papadimitrakopoulos, Onassis Public Benefit Foundation Scholar, and advisor and UK Liaison to the Greek National Rapporteur for Trafficking in Human Beings.

The internet used to be an open road, with unrestricted access and use, based very much on trust and community values.  During the event, Who can really say what to whom on the internet panellists from Cambridge University's Computer Lab will discuss recent developments, bumps and obstacles as we traverse down this open road. For example, most people that use email are aware of the rapid rise of spam, rendering it almost useless for many uses where reliability is essential. As the world moves on to use other services, we find that social media, blogging and news media access are also subject to various obstacles, some that impact performance, and some that intrude more explicitly, such as censorship, by site blocking, or bots, automated systems that create content, often for a particular political or commercial purpose.

21st Century families also come under the spotlight on Saturday. A new study from the Centre for Family Research investigates the distinct opportunities and challenges faced by parents. In, Journeys to personhood and parenthood, a group of researchers will share the psychological journeys made by 200 local couples taking part in a new study of maternal and paternal influences on infant development and followed from late pregnancy to early toddler-hood.

Speaking ahead of the event about specific challenges now faced by parents, Professor Claire Hughes from the Centre for Family Research said: “Many of our couples have families that are geographically quite distant and so much less available for support. Childcare costs are a real source of anxiety and juggling short and long-term career goals for mothers and fathers can be a real headache.  Added to these challenges, parents often appear concerned that their children are keeping up with their peers in meeting physical and cognitive milestones that are perhaps made all the more evident by Facebook and other internet resources. And of course, the ‘child-led’ approach to parenting means that many couples run the dangers of failing to look after themselves, their friendships and their relationship with each other.”

Children and families are also in for a real treat this weekend. From a hands-on dig with a difference at Grave Hill Farm and Prehistory and archaeology day with Cambridge Archaeological Unit, to memory games, dynamic quizzes and a language puzzle about Latin America’s ancient cultures for younger children. For all the family there is Pop-up parliament – destination democracy! – a time travelling adventure. This free, family theatre show celebrates the origins of freedom and democracy through puppetry, entertainment and interaction.  

Other events taking place on Saturday include: