Widening Perspectives

9th May 2022
BY Michael Marcaș, Head of Economics

John Stuart Mill said, “He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that,” and that we should seek out conflicting views “from persons who actually believe them.”

Widening Perspectives is a new initiative at Winchester College that applies John Stuart Mill’s advice in a diverse, modern Britain, and a globalised world. Its aims are to promote understanding, empathy and tolerance of perspectives that exist within and beyond Britain amongst the students. The means to achieve this will be creating spaces where students can listen to and engage with those they disagree with; where students (and outside speakers) can explain their worldview, helping their peers to understand how a perspective feels and operates from the standpoint of an insider. Beyond acquiring a better understanding, these spaces will cultivate an empathy and tolerance of those who come from different backgrounds or hold different beliefs.

In its augural year, Winchester College students collaborated with Barton Peveril students to design policies to tackle inequality, and with St Swithuns' pupils to design policies to tackle gender violence. Working in groups, they were able to appreciate each other's viewpoints through well-meaning, civil political discourse and to reach a better, mutual understanding of the issues being researched.

Rather than debates, which are often theatrical, high-stakes performances, we have held discussions. In this way, nuanced conversations were held on whether ‘Cancel culture should be cancelled?’, or ‘What should the West’s response should be to the rise of autocracies?’.

In Cloister Time, we look forward to welcoming speakers like Rosalind Miles, a feminist author; Lisa Hill, an activist in Extinction Rebellion; Shaan Khan, from GIRES, a charity which campaigns for trans and gender nonconforming communities; and Giovanni Rose, a young black poet from Tottenham who won the Foyle Young Poet of the Year.

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