The latest Global Conversation lecture will focus on addressing literacy disadvantage in Canada and the UK (image courtesy of Shutterstock)

‘Global Conversation’ focuses on addressing literacy disadvantage in Canada and the UK

World-leading education experts will gather to discuss how to address the crucial issue of addressing literacy disadvantage in Canada and the UK, at a special event in Toronto.

Internationally-acclaimed social scientists Professor Debra Myhill from the University of Exeter, England, and Professor Shelley Stagg Peterson from the University of Toronto, will lead the high-profile event on Monday, 9 November.

The prominent event is the latest in a series of worldwide lectures organised by the University of Exeter, called the Global Conversation, which showcase some of the latest developments in world-leading research.

Prof Myhill and Prof Stagg Peterson will provide a unique insight into why government efforts to close the social gap in literacy attainment have been stubbornly resistant to change – even though illiteracy is increasingly rare in the Western World.

The prestigious lecture will also consider what public policy actions have the greatest potential to address literacy gaps arising from social disadvantage.

Following the discussions, a panel of world-leading experts, including Patsy Aldana, Chair of the National Reading Campaign and Greg Farrell of the Ontario Ministry of Education, will take part in an in-depth Question and Answer session with the audience.

Questions for the panel to discuss during the event can be submitted by emailing or  via Twitter using the hashtag #uoeglobalconvo. The lecture can also be followed at the dedicated Twitter feed @UoEGlobalConvo.

Speaking ahead of the Global Conversation event, Prof Myhill said: “There is a powerful connection between literacy and life advantage, and in both the developing and the developed worlds, political and educational efforts have been directed towards improving literacy outcomes.  But perhaps surprisingly, in many westernised countries efforts to close the social gap in literacy attainment have been stubbornly resistant to change.    

“This Global Conversation will outline the relationship between social disadvantage and literacy, drawing on research from the University of Toronto, Canada and the University of Exeter, UK, and will challenge assumptions that social disadvantage cannot be changed.”

Monday’s event is the first in a three-part Global Conversation lecture series across North America.

On Thursday, November 12, global-leading scientists in the fields of Climate Change and Energy Policy will gather at the American Museum of Natural History in New York for the lecture “Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change: What is the best thing to do now?”.

At the event, the University of Exeter’s Professor Peter Cox (Professor of Climate System Dynamics) will highlight the major threats and options which the upcoming United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris will consider, while Professor Catherine Mitchell (Professor of Energy Policy) will provide an insight into current European energy policy.

Professor Travis Bradford (Associate Professor and Director of the Energy and Environment Concentration at Columbia University) will also explore the US perspective on energy policy including the New York state’s Reforming the Energy Vision, while Dr Gavin Schmidt of NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, will be part of a panel of experts taking part in a Q&A session with the audience.

Then, on Monday 16 November the Global Conversation moves to the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco for the lecture “Tackling the Challenge of Dementia”.

Two University of Exeter scientists will be presenting their world-leading research into Dementia. Professor Jonathan Mill from the University of Exeter Medical School will explore the biological and genetic issues related to Dementia. Professor Linda Clare who leads Exeter’s Centre for Research in Ageing and Cognitive Health, will provide an insight into prevention and adaption techniques from the perspective of Clinical Psychology.

The panel of experts answering questions at this event includes Professor Paul Coleman of Arizona State University and Stefanie Bonigut of the Alzheimer's Association.

Initiated in March 2015 with two events in Hong Kong, the Global Conversation series explores how the University of Exeter, working in collaboration with its partners across the world, is having an impact on many of the shared global challenges we face. Events in the series focus on common issues and problems, from Mental Health Care to Water Security, and encourage conversation between experts in their fields, guests and a wider public audience.

Launching Global Conversation, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive Professor Sir Steve Smith said: “We want to share our thinking and our world-leading research, to open up discussion and debate around these issues. By stimulating conversation between our academics and other leading experts in their fields, we can make a positive contribution to our collective global understanding of issues which affect us all.”

For more information regarding these, and other lectures in the Global Conversation series, please visit the Global Conversation webpage.

Date: 6 November 2015

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