The Great Northern Debate



the great northern debate is an Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) project focused on a variety of topics including: Energy generation, Developing Countries, Climate Change, Sustainable Education (Education, education, education?) and ‘What does sustainability mean? The project involves a range of activities including public discussions and workshops, debating workshops for schools and in universities, public engagement training for engineers and film-making training for young people not in employment, education or training. The project is run by The Great Debate, a not for profit community organisation dedicated to sustaining a space for public debate in the North East of England.  Website:

Project Report 2013

In the last year we have worked in partnership with NECTER / RCE North East, Newcastle University, Northumbria University, Sunderland University, North East Centre for Lifelong Learning, Economic and Social Research Council, Newcastle Institute for Social Renewal, Great North Festival and Festival of the North East to deliver a diverse series of events for general audiences including: Whatever Happened to Equality? – a day of debate and documentary-making held in November 2012 which took a critical look at how the ideal of equality has been eroded in recent times; The Science of Humanity – a series of seven evening seminars for adults between January and March 2013 exploring how successful the natural and social sciences have been at telling us about what we are and our place in (or out of) nature; Media, Culture, Voice: Tackling inequality and marginalisation – a debate held in July asking what roles media and culture can and should play in tackling inequality and enabling the marginalised to ‘speak'; and three discussion-based events in partnership with Great North Festival: Embracing the Future in April,  Water and wind – Can renewables deliver? in June and Northumbria Stories in September.

We also obtained three key grants which will keep us busy throughout 2013-14:

  1. Royal Academy of Engineering have awarded The Great Debate a second grant under their Ingenious grant scheme for ETUDE: Engineering Transmission Using Deliberative Events, a one year project which will engage engineers in dialogue with the general public in order to improve understanding the intersection of technology with human values and behaviour.
  2. Big Lottery Fund’s Awards for All scheme awarded us a grant to resume great northern youth voices, our venture into documentary-making training for young people not in employment, education or training which was last active in early 2012 and which laid the groundwork for NECTER’s HYPODS (Hearing Young People on Development and Sustainability) project.
  3. Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) have supported us for the seventh year running to contribute to their Festival of Social Science in November 2013. This year’s event: Decline and Fool: Changing Ideas in the Twenty Teens will look at the declining influence of environmentalism and postmodernism, and ask what, if anything, is taking their place.