Ideas Cafe are a space that allow for academics to engage in a truly meaningful way with those outside of the ivory tower. They are a forum for discussion and debate in an informal setting that invites questions and new ideas. Recently the Public Engagement Team supported several of our academics and students to work with local community group, Black Conscious Coventry (BCC), to host an Ideas Cafe looking at several of the issues facing the Caribbean Community both at home and abroad.
BCC were great to work with and told us afterwards how valuable they and the community found the event:
“We have received nothing but positive feedback. We've had comments on the structure and how people loved hearing about topics they hadn't even thought about. There were some great discussions and healthy debates that we are keen to continue!”
What is an Ideas Cafe?
Ideas Cafe's are a relatively simple format where each speaker presents for no more than 5 minutes on the issues surrounding their topic and presents key discussion points for the audience. They then join the audience in a round table discussion where they may focus on the discussion points presented, or possibly explore another tangent depending on the knowledge, expertise and interest of that table. After 20 - 30 minutes discussion each table feeds back on their conversation and the speakers move round to the next table. This continues until each table has had a chance to meet with each speaker. Typically we break up the events with lunch or coffee and cake to give people a break and encourage informal conversation over food.
Interested in running one? Contact us to find out more
Dr Meleisa Ono-George, Director of Student Experience and Senior Teaching Fellow for Caribbean History here at Warwick, spoke at the event around Identity and Colourism. This was her take on the event and what it meant for her to take part:
“Public engagement is crucial to conducting well-informed and ethical research. I cannot engage in research on Afro-Caribbean histories without engaging with the communities most closely linked to these histories. I remember Catherine Hall once referred to academic engagement as ‘joining the conversation’. She was referring to engagement in terms of conferences and publications, which academics always do. But surely those ‘conversations’ need to be had with a wider public and specific communities? Whatever knowledge and information achieved in my research should be shared, but also, I think the conversations you have with the community will assist in determining what questions need answering and where more understanding is needed. So, public engagement for me is about being an ethical historian and researcher."
As well as Meleisa, the event also featued Dr Leon Sealey-Huggins and PHD Candidate Lisa K. Soares from Warwick, alongside Dave 'Marshall' Barrett, a local DJ and local black music history expert, and Dr Kehinde Andrews from Birmingham City University.