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LSBU collaborates with Natural History Museum to host conference on Human Dignity

Human Dignity was the subject at a conference held by London South Bank University (LSBU) in collaboration with the Natural History Museum
25 November 2014

The vital issues around what constitutes human dignity were the subject of scrutiny at a conference held by London South Bank University (LSBU) in collaboration with the Natural History Museum last week.

Giving their perspectives on human dignity drawn from their respective disciplines, academics representing LSBU included Sonia Leeyou of Urban, Environment & Leisure Studies, Dr Nick Martin of Education Studies, Dr Anne Ridley of Psychology, Professor John Tayler of Social Sciences, plus Andy Unger and Professor Max Weaver of Law.

Issues discussed at the conference included justice, poverty, disability, homelessness and the trauma suffered by child victims obliged to give evidence in the courts.

Discussions explored shared and conflicting personal conceptions of human dignity and what the concept means and requires in terms of human rights.

Dr Margaret Clegg of the Natural History Museum gave a talk on evolutionary perspectives on human dignity, identifying the earliest evidence in the archaeological record of human caring and funeral rituals.

Andrew Puddephatt OBE, Executive Director of Global Partners Digital, concluded the conference by identifying the challenges facing human rights in the digital age – mass surveillance as the financial model for free online services, continuing advances in technology that capture the minutest details of our personal lives and the potential weaponisation of the internet.

Andy Unger of LSBU's School of Law and Social Science explained: "Our tentative conclusion was that there are many overlapping sources religious, philosophical, evolutionary and cultural that converge in a political expression of our shared values in fundamental human rights and our sense of human dignity."

The conference formed part of the 2014 Being Human Festival, organised by the School of Advanced Study, University of London, in partnership with the Arts & Humanities Research Council and the British Academy.