Photography credit: Appleton Event Photography

Young adults discuss consent and rape culture at Festival of Social Science event

As part of the Economic and Social Research Council's (ESRC) Festival of Social Science (FOSS), Lecturer in Politics, Dr Sarah Cooper, in collaboration with Professor Claire Dunlop and Dr Owen Thomas, hosted a public engagement event to explore the construction of consent in the courtroom. The session took place on Tuesday 6 November at Exeter Castle, and consisted of two interactive workshops.

‘Constructing Consent’ encouraged the teenagers to consider the role of the courtroom in society, and specifically how the institution tackles the contemporary observation of a pervading 'rape culture'. Dr Cooper states, “The topic is a prominent civic issue for a young adult audience for whom the debates around a problematic ‘lad culture’ and the harmful ‘blurred lines’ of sexual conduct are particularly prominent.”

This day event incorporated two workshop sessions engaging Year 11, 12 and 13 students in cutting-edge social science problems: Does society expect ‘proper’ victims of sexual violence to appear a particular way? Does this have a pervasive impact on the courtroom? Are we failing to protect victims that do not confirm this stereotype?

The students had lunch between the workshops, and the day drew to an end with a Q&A session hosted by current student ambassadors, affording the students an opportunity to explore further aspects of student life.

The participants from Newton Abbot College, Sidmouth College, St Cuthbert Mayne School, and Stoke Damerel Community College offered excellent feedback, finding the session “engaging”, “beneficial”, “informative”, “useful” and “enlightening”, with one student commenting, “I felt like the talk was very engaging and everyone was very friendly and helpful which made me enjoy the day” and another stating that it made them “gain an interest in [going to] university.”

Date: 22 November 2018

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