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Human Rights Day Balloon Debate: who is the greatest of the 20th century?

Chair: Professor Laurie Taylor
December 2005


So who do you think is the greatest human rights personality of modern times? Martin Luther King; Nelson Mandela; Eleanor Roosevelt; Mahatma Gandhi; or someone else altogether? Have your say in the inaugural Centre for the Study of Human Rights Balloon Debate. Six famed human rights personalities, living or dead, will be in the balloon. But there is only enough air to support one. Five have to go. Each will have his or her case put by a spokesperson, explaining why he or she is truly the greatest and should be allowed to stay while all the rest should be ejected. The audience will throw out four before hearing from the final two once again. Then the decision will have be made - as to who in the audience's opinion is truly the greatest human rights person of the 20th century.

Laurie Taylor is visiting professor in the department of politics and sociology at Birkbeck College, University of London. Before entering academic life, he had eight years industrial and sales experience, worked as a librarian in Liverpool, taught in a London comprehensive school, and was a professional actor with Joan Littlewood's famous Theatre Workshop Company at Stratford East. He is the author of fourteen books on motivation, change, communication, and personal identity, and is a regular contributor to the New Statesman, The Independent, and The Times. His weekly satirical column on university life has been appearing in the Times Higher Education Supplement for the last eighteen years. His most recent book (written with his son, Matthew) was called What Are Children For?

For the past twenty years he has been heard on BBC Radio 4 in such programmes as Stop the Week, The Radio Programme, News Quiz, Speaking as an Expert, Afternoon Shift, and Room for Improvement. He can currently be heard every Wednesday afternoon on R4 presenting Thinking Allowed, a programme devoted to society and social change.