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Getting Real about Utopia

BBC Radio 3 LSE Literary Festival public discussion

Date: Wednesday 17 February 2016
Time:  6.30-8pm
Venue: Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building
Speakers:  Professor Justin Champion, Dr John Guy, Kwasi Kwarteng, Gisela Stuart
Chair:  Anne McElvoy

Is politics about building a better world, or simply the art of the possible? Ahead of this year's LSE Literary Festival which marks the anniversary of Thomas More's Utopia, in a special debate for BBC Radio 3’s flagship programme FreeThinking (@BBCFreeThinking), politicians and historians debate the balance between idealism and realism in politics, international relations and political history. 

Justin Champion is Professor of the History of Early Modern Ideas at Royal Holloway, University of London and President of the Historical Association. He works on political thought of the early modern period, with a particular emphasis on the relationship between politics and religion in the period between the Reformation and the Enlightenment. He is a regular broadcaster on the BBC and elsewhere. 

John Guy is Fellow of Clare College, University of Cambridge. He has written extensively about the politics of the Tudor Court, including several books on Sir Thomas More and his political career. He is a regular broadcaster on the BBC and elsewhere.

Kwasi Kwarteng has been Conservative MP for Spelthorne since 2010. He has served on the Transport Select Committee, and is currently a member of the Work & Pensions Select Committee. He is an historian whose books include Ghosts of Empire: Britain’s Legacies in the Modern World, and Thatcher’s Trial: Six Months That Defined A Leader.

Gisela Stuart (@GiselaStuart) has been Labour MP for Birmingham Edgbaston since 1997. She has served on the Social Security Select Committee, in the Government as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health, and as a UK Parliamentary Representative at the European Convention, a body established to draw up a constitution for the European Union. Gisela is the current editor of The House, Parliament’s in-house magazine.

Anne McElvoy (@annemcelvoy) is Senior Editor at The Economist,  a presenter of BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking  and BBC Radio 4 Moral Maze,  and a London Evening Standard  columnist.

Twitter Hashtag for this event: #LSEfreethinking


A podcast of this event is available to download from Getting Real about Utopia.

The event was also broadcast on BBC Radio 3 as part of their Free Thinking series.

Podcasts and videos of many LSE events can be found at the LSE Public Lectures and Events: podcasts and videos channel.


View a summary of this event in tweets via Storify, Getting Real about Utopia.

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This event has been certified for CPD purposes by the CPD Certification Service. Self-Assessment Record forms will be made available for delegates wishing to record further learning and knowledge enhancement for Continuing Personal and Professional Development (CPD) purposes. For delegates who wish to obtain a CPD Certificate of Attendance, it is the responsibility of delegates to register their details with a LSE steward at the end of the event and as of 1 September 2014 a certificate will be sent within 28 days of the date of the event attended by the CPD Certification Service.  If a delegate fails to register their details at the event, it will not prove possible to issue a certificate. (For queries relating to CPD Certificates of attendance after a request please phone 0208 840 4383 or email info@cpduk.co.uk).