Stagecoach, in partnership with the University, has named nine Unibus buses after the founding professors of the University. The professors founded the University of Warwick in 1965 with disciplines including French, Engineering, History, Mathematics, Politics and Chemistry. Last year Stagecoach invested £1.6 million in new Wi-Fi fitted, state-of-the-art double deck buses for the Unibus service and offered the University the opportunity of naming the vehicles. The buses which run from the popular student area of Sydenham to Warwick University via Leamington carry more than 1.8 million students a year. The naming of the buses reflects the close partnership between Stagecoach and the University.
Dr Roberta Bivins, Dr Jonathan Davies and Professor Bernard Capp with Mr Mathew Hale and Lady Sheila Hale, the son and wife of founding professor Sir John Hale
Chiara Farnea Croff, Warwick’s Venice Programme Coordinator, has won first prize in a campaign organised by the prestigious Venice opera house La Fenice to tackle violence against women.
Chiara has volunteered for many years for a charitable organisation which offers help to women seeking refuge, and the prize marks a continuation of her efforts to highlight this issue.
La Fenice launched a competition to think up a slogan, which Chiara won with an entry based on the name one of opera’s most famous heroines.
Her winning slogan was:
Chiara said, "This is a topic I'm passionate about, so to receive this award is an absolute honour." The prize was awarded by a jury consisting of leading figures from Venice’s cultural community.
Chiara Farnea Croff with Italian actress Ottavia Piccolo and Cristian Chiarot, the Sovrintendente of the Teatro la Fenice
Aspects of Violence in Renaissance Europe - new book edited by Jonathan Davies
Aspects of Violence in Renaissance Europe, edited by Dr Jonathan Davies, will be published by Ashgate this week.
It includes an introdution by Jonathan and presents a range of contributions that look at various aspects of violence from the fourteenth to the seventeenth centuries, from student violence and misbehaviour in fifteenth-century Oxford and Paris to the depiction of war wounds in the English civil wars. Extracts can be viewed at www.ashgate.com/isbn/9781409433415
Comments delivered by Honorary Graduand Jan de Vries at the Degree Congregation, University of Warwick, 15th July 2013
Mr. Vice Chancellor, distinguished colleagues, graduates and their families and well-wishers. My greetings to the entire community of the University of Warwick, and my sincere thanks for the great honour that has been granted to me.
Seeing this assembly of accomplished young people on the cusp of taking on the challenges of our world, I, as so many before me, cannot resist thinking back – nearly 50 years in my case – to when I was in your shoes. It was an exciting time. Perhaps for that reason I cannot remember a word of what the wise men and women at my graduation exercises had to say. Not a word.
So, honoured though I am to be in this position, I also feel uneasy. What wise words can I convey to you here that can stand up to the occasion? I have settled on a three-minute sermon on the topic of your future lives as consumers.
For many, many centuries, such an address didn’t even require three minutes. Consumption not intended for the maintenance of body and soul was called luxury, and luxury put your soul in mortal danger; nearly all of the seven deadly sins were implicated in acts of consumption. And this danger to your soul was also a corrupting influence on society. No good could come from it.
Almost exactly 300 years ago, a Dutch physician named Barnard Mandeville, who had removed himself to London to escape imprisonment for libel and slander, famously argued that, yes, luxury consumption is, indeed, the very embodiment of vice; but, it happens also to be the source of national prosperity. The sins of the people are the foundation of society’s prosperity and comfort.
People long struggled with Mandeville’s claim that commercial societies were morally bankrupt and mired in hypocrisy; that more sin led to greater well-being. But, in time, they set this dilemma aside. The behaviour that leads to prosperity simply could not longer be thought of as vice. Today, consumption is judged primarily on the basis of taste, not of mortality. We don’t ask many difficult questions about the actual objects of desire. Who is to judge? And, journalistic commentary on the economy regularly reminds us that all will be well when consumers open their purses again. What is socially important about consumer demand is aggregate demand.
In an earlier era of economic crisis, this same message was already being absorbed. In 1934, a humorist writing in Punch had a kindly bishop inquire of a bright-haired lad what he hoped to be when he grew up:
I want to be a consumer,
The bright-haired lad replied
As he gazed upon the Bishop’s face
In innocence open eyed.
I’ve never had aims of a selfish sort
For that, as I know, is wrong.
I want to be a consumer, Sir
And help the nation on.
In our current international economic difficulties, you too may be asking, now that you are all grown up: how can I help? Other speakers at events such as this focus their inspirational words on your bright futures as productive members of society and all the good that you can do for the world. I want to focus your attention for a moment on your future life as consumers. It isn’t easy to consume well. And it is important.
It is important to you personally, to be sure, but also to society, and not simply, as the bright-haired lad understood, because with your spending, you do your bit to keep the wheels of commerce turning today.
Back when the challenge of Mandeville was still thought troubling, a solution was proposed – by no less than Adam Smith. Today, it is largely forgotten, but it is worth remembering. Smith argued that the foundation of society’s prosperity is not any consumption (as Mandeville had it), but prudent consumption. The prudent person substitutes pure self regard and self interest for self betterment. He or she considers the present utility of goods, but also the utility of future consumption – what we might today call sustainability.
An historical view of economic life reveals a great deal of variance in how societies have consumed over time. Some for better; some for worse. Consumption is an art, you might say, worthy of your attention. But, I do not need to remind the graduates assembled here that the arts are of genuine importance to society. They are not a mere luxury.
My congratulations to you all.
Jan de Vries
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