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Flagship University engagement project supports tribute to historical debate

13 May 2015

Merthyr Rising festival logo

Cardiff University's Strong Communities, Healthier People project (SCHeP) will this year sponsor the Waun Common debates, as part of the Merthyr Rising Festival 2015.

On 30 May 1831, more than 2,000 workers from Merthyr and Monmouthshire gathered for a mass meeting at the Waun Common above Dowlais to discuss petitioning the King for reform, including calling for the abolition of the Court of Requests and an end to low wages in the iron industry.

The meeting was part of the wider Merthyr Rising, one of the earliest organised actions of industrial workers in 19th Century Britain.

On 30th May 2015 – the 184th anniversary of the original event - the Waun Common debates will commemorate the spirit of the original discussions held during the Merthyr Rising. The contemporary Waun debates will explore radical ideas of our age and question what is considered to be orthodox thinking, seeking to encourage lively exploration of current economic and political issues. Chaired by Dr Martin O'Neill from the University's School of Social Sciences, the SCHeP-supported session will question the modern concept of economic austerity and consider how it is constructed and reported.

Contributors to the event include Ross Ashcroft, founder of website Renegade Economist, which questions traditional explanations of economic matters, and Professor Steve Keen, author of Debunking Economics, which questions neo-classical explanations and models of economics. Dr Mike Berry from Cardiff University's School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies will also present his work on how the UK mainstream media reported the financial crisis.

Strong Communities, Healthier People is one of five flagship engagement projects initiated to develop the University's contribution to society. The aim of the SCHeP project is to develop and pilot a sustainable model of collaborative research, education, engagement, knowledge exchange and impact between the University and local communities.

Dr Martin O'Neill from the University's School of Social Sciences, said: "It is fantastic to see the University contributing to grassroots initiatives like the Merthyr Rising Festival, which celebrate the proud culture and history of South Wales. This event will demonstrate the University's commitment to working in partnership with surrounding communities as outlined in the objectives of the SCHeP project."

The Waun Common Debates take place as part of the Merthyr Rising Festival on 30 May 2015 at Theatr Soar, Merthyr Tydfil, 10am-3pm. Tickets are £5 per person and are available from the Merthyr Rising Festival website.