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Speaker(s): Brett Heasman, Celestin Okoroji, Professor Bev Skeggs, Dr Jana Uher
Chair: Dr Sunil Kumar

Recorded on 24 February 2018 at Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building

There have been significant advances in the rights, recognition and participation of diverse groups of people in the UK over the past 30 years. And yet, people’s backgrounds and characteristics – such as their age, gender, ethnicity, 'abilities' or 'disabilities', and sexual orientation – continue to strongly influence their life experiences, opportunities and prosperity. During an extended period of austerity, the current political climate is characterised by sharp divisions in attitudes to the long-term direction of the country, to the question of 'who belongs?' and to the sustainability of the UK's welfare system – giving rise to the question, ‘Can we afford to be different?’

LSE’s EDI (Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) team brings together a panel of experts on inequality for a discussion of the challenges of developing an inclusive and fair society in the 21st century. In honour of the 75th anniversary of the release of the Beveridge report, the speakers will draw on their research findings and disciplinary perspectives to consider how we should approach difference and supporting one another in society. When looking at life outcomes, what can we learn from examining the interplay of people’s characteristics and backgrounds? What does it mean to contribute to society, and who judges this? And what are the social costs of getting our approach to difference wrong?

Brett Heasman is a PhD researcher in the Department of Psychological and Behavioural Science at LSE. His research focuses on the public understanding of autism, for which he has won grant awards for collaboration and impact from the ESRC and LSE. Brett is the creator of the 'Open Minds' exhibition, which was set up to promote autistic voices.

Celestin Okoroji is a PhD researcher in the Department of Psychological and Behavioural Science at LSE. His research focuses on the ways in which ideas associated with stigmatised groups – such as unemployed people - become a part of stigmatised group members' self-concept. Celestin’s research was awarded the Popular Prize at the 2016 LSE Research Festival.

Bev Skeggs is academic director of the Atlantic Fellows programme in the International Inequalities Institute at LSE.

Jana Uher was a senior research fellow and Marie Curie fellow at LSE from 2015 to 2017. She is now a senior lecturer at the University of Greenwich.

Sunil Kumar teaches on the MSc in Social Policy and Development and convenes the postgraduate elective ‘Urbanisation and Social Policy in the Global South’. As dean of graduate studies (2011–16) at LSE, he chaired the Equality and Diversity Forum, among other duties. His recent research is on the urbanisation-construction-migration nexus in south Asia.

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