Yanis Varoufakis, Russell Brand, and Alexa Chung are among the speakers listed on the Oxford Union’s Michaelmas term card, Cherwell can report.
The society will also play host to a large array of world leaders – including a panel hosting 5 of the Central Asian ‘Silk Road’ countries for the first time – with a term card possessing a clear political focus.
Union President Stephen Horvath told Cherwell: “My vision for the Union is simple: we should offer members the chance to engage directly with premier speakers on important topics.
“I was first drawn to the Union as a debater, and I wanted to ensure our line-up this term captured a range of viewpoints and brought them into conversation on seven controversial topics. The War on Terror debate, for example, includes diplomats, politicians, military leaders, and policing and security experts from three different countries – it is through the breadth of speakers in any one debate that members can really challenge their starting assumptions.”
The Union’s speaker events, debates, and panels planned for the term ahead feature a range of actors, world leaders, sportspeople, and thinkers – just over 35% of whom identify as women*. Around 9% of total invited speakers openly identify as LGBTQ+.
Little Mix, an award-winning British pop group well known for their hit ‘Shout Out to My Ex’, account for four of the total 15 women* scheduled to present at speaker events next term.
Despite a drop in the amount of international speakers from last term, there is a more global focus than in previous years. International speakers make up approximately 43% of the total.
Union President Stephen Horvath told Cherwell: “Building on our progress in the last few terms, I am pleased that we once again are organising panels and head-to-head debates to offer deeper engagement, on topics ranging from modern slavery to the future of the Euro. I am also pleased that over a third of our speakers are female and that around a quarter are from BME backgrounds. ”
The Union will host seven debates on Thursday evenings from first week to seventh week. At each event, there will be an emergency debate at 19:45 followed by the main debate at 20:30.
Topics to be debated include retributive justice, private schools, the war on terror, as well the perennial No Confidence debate in Her Majesty’s Government. Debate speakers include Universities Minister Sam Gyimah, Dominic Grieve MP, and US Ambassador Gerald Feierstein.
In addition to three panels, the Union will also host a range of special events, including the The Grand Final of the Union’s internal debating competition and a Euro Head to Head debate, which will take place the evening before a major European Council meeting.
The Union’s Silk Road Panel, co-hosted with the Oxford Silk Road Society, will be the first time ambassadors from the Republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan sit on a panel together.
Founding president of the Silk Road Society and event organiser, Marcello Fantoni, told Cherwell: “Our society is dedicated to the study of the culture, history, geography, and politics of the Silk Road, both ancient and modern. The event is officially entitled ‘Central Asia into the 2020s and Beyond’.
“Given the ongoing instability in the region, our aim as a society is to ensure the perspectives of these nations are not overlooked. Too often, Central Asia has been seen as the backyard of China or Russia, without proper consideration given to its perspectives and ambitions.”
The full term card can be found here. [https://www.oxford-union.org/term_card]
1. 11th October
“This House Has No Confidence in Her Majesty’s Government”
Nia Griffiths MP
Chris Bryant MP
Sam Gyimah MP
Brandon Lewis MP
2. 18th October
“This House Believes Science Alone Can Never Answer Our Biggest Questions”
Dr Denis Alexander
Professor Richard Swinburne
Professor Ijeoma Uchegbu
Professor Peter Atkins
Professor Frank Tipler
3. 25th October
“This House Believes the War on Terror Has Been Its Own Worst Enemy”
Sir Ivor Roberts
David Pratt PC, KStG
Congresswoman Jane Harman
Sir Mark Rowley QPM
Ambassador Gerald Feierstein
General Graeme Lamb KBE, CMG, DSO
4. 1st November
“This House Believes that Retributive Justice is Obsolete”
Frances Crook OBE
Ard van der Steur
Dominic Grieve QC MP
5. 8th November
“This House Believes We Have Not Remembered Them”
Professor Catriona Pennell
Dr Jenny Macleod
Surgeon Commander Andrew Morrison MP
Major General Nicholas Caplin CB
6. 15th November
“This House Believes Private Schools are a Public Disaster”
Karin Smyth MP
William Wragg MP
Sir Graham Brady MP
7. 22nd November
“This House Believes Ireland is Ready for Reunification”
Colum Eastwood MLA
Micheal Martin TD
Joan Burton TD
Mike Nesbitt MLA
Peter Higgs; 30 October, 20:00
Slavoj Žižek; 9 November, 20:00
Yanis Varoufakis; 14 November, 20:00
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe (Sri Lanka); 8 October, 20:00
President Rumen Radev (Bulgaria); 18 October, 17:00
Pr Minister Tony Abbott (Australia); 5 October, 20:00
Former President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud (Somalia); 12 October, 17:00
Former President Ian Khama (Botswana); 12 October, 19:00
Former President Tarja Halonen (Finland); 10 October, 20:00
Media and Entertainment
Jude Law; 14 October, 17:00
Little Mix; 19 November, 17:00
Margarita Simonyan; 10 October, 17:00
Russell Brand; 22 October, 17:00
Sonia Friedman; 30 November, 16:00
Jo Malone; 11 October, 17:00
Sir Paul Smith; 17 October, 14:00
Alexa Chung; 21 November 17:00
Nigel Owens; 24 October, 17:00
Ding Junhui; 20 November, 20:00