The inaugural Nottingham Science City Youth Parliament on 4th and 5th November in Nottingham surpassed all expectations. 30 young people from city and county schools, colleges and youth groups - including Nottingham Youth Council and the Children in Care Council - took part in the parliament event and produced four excellent resolutions to take to Europe at the end of this month.
The level of engagement by the young people, aged between 16 and 19, was simply fantastic. The parliament programme schedule was challenging and the subject matter – stem cell research, genetic testing, personalised medicine, and genes and aggressive behaviour - complex and demanding. However, supported by a team of dedicated facilitators and expert witnesses the delegates successfully worked through the various stages of the resolution-development process before engaging in a vociferous yet mature and highly-informed debate in the chambers of the Council House.
As part of their evidence gathering, youth delegates heard from a range of experts including Nottingham Trent University molecular biologist Dr. David Hughes, leading NHS researcher and ethics specialist Dr. Carl Edwards, life sciences legal expert Scott Farnsworth, and science philosopher, sociologist and linguist Dr. Brigitte Nerlich. Meanwhile the debate and vote on resolutions was chaired by Dr. Karen Moss of the Centre for the Effective Learning in Science at NTU, while a team of facilitators from Nottingham University, BioCity and the Ignite! Creative Sparks project supported the delegate workshop groups throughout the event.
Another feature of the event was the engagement with Speakers’ Corner Trust, whose members organised a public rehearsal of debate topics at the Speakers’ Corner square on King Street in Nottingham city centre. This activity saw the youth delegates take it in turns to pitch their resolution ideas to the world and produced in turn some very animated responses and public debate from a large crowd of passers-by, fellow delegates and supporters. The courage and enthusiasm shown by the young people in rising to the challenge of open-air speaking and public debate during this activity was commendable.
The local parliament event concluded, we are now at the halfway stage of a process which will see the four resolutions presented to the 2Ways European Parliament event in Brussels, 29th November to 1st December. Two delegates, James Kelly of Bilborough College and Rebecca Jantschenko of the Long Eaton School were nominated to present the resolutions. They will travel to Brussels to represent the voice of Nottingham Science City youth and engage in debate with other youth delegates from over 30 European cities.
A report on all the proceedings and the success of the Nottingham resolutions will be published and distributed after the 2Ways event. In the meantime I would like to thank everybody involved thus far for their wonderful support and hope that all partners will continue to devote time and energy to the engagement and participation of young people in shaping science and technology approaches.