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AHS Convention 2015

27 - 29 March 2015

The Atheist, Humanist and Secular Societies, British Humanist Association and Conway Hall Ethical Society presents

AHS Convention 2015

We are delighted to welcome you to the AHS Convention on 27th – 29th March 2015.

We’ll be joined by some fantastic speakers, treated to some wonderful entertainment, and have the opportunity to meet non-religious students from AHS societies around the country.

The 2015 Convention will consist of the Young Humanists Launch, speaker and panel sessions on the Saturday, followed by evening entertainment and workshops for society members on the Sunday.


So far, we have confirmed the attendance of the following at Conway Hall on Saturday 28th March:

  • Susan Blackmore: Psychologist and Author of the Meme Machine
  • Natalie Haynes: Humanist Comedian, Writer & Classicist
  • Andrew Copson: Chief Executive of the British Humanist Association
  • Alom Shaha: Science Educator & Author of the Young Atheist’s Handbook
  • Jonny Scaramanga: Former Evangelical Christian & founder of Leaving Fundamentalism
  • Hayley Stevens: Ghost Geek & skeptical Paranormal Researcher
  • Ruth Haydock: AHS Board Member & Founder of Recovering from Religion St Andrews

Tickets: £20 public, £15 students. With travel grants available to students. 

Image of Shipwrecked with Vincent Deary

Talks & Lectures

Shipwrecked with Vincent Deary

Sun 29 Mar 2015, 11:40

The School of Life presents

Shipwrecked with Vincent Deary

"To live is to feel oneself lost" writes Jose Ortega y Gasset "he who accepts it has already begun to find himself, to be on firm ground. Instinctively, as do the shipwrecked, he will look round for something to which to cling". In attempting to steer a course through life, we often find ourselves off course or even shipwrecked. What do we cling to in these difficult straits, and what North Star can take us back on course?'

Trained as a health psychologist and CBT therapist, in mid-life, Vincent Deary chose to leave London and travel north. In the hope of setting down ‘such wisdom as I had to get me through the second half of my life’ he began to write what was to become the first book in a trilogy entitled How to Live.  In this Sunday Sermon, Deary will share his own journey of understanding about what it means to be human. By examining the power of habit and the difficulty of change, he will explore deep rooted and often stubborn aspects of our nature and illuminate ways to make our acts truly our own.  

This Sunday sermon should inspire us to make changes in our lives. Expect a warm and inspiring morning with one of the UK’s best thinkers.

Vincent Deary is a health psychologist and cognitive behavioural psychotherapist whose main focus is the science and practice of changing lives for the better. He currently holds three National Institute of Health Research grants and divides his time between his clinical practice and an academic position at the University of Northumbria. A former holder of the prestigious Medical Research Council fellowship, Vincent worked for 23 years as a psychologist in London before moving home to Scotland and then Newcastle, and has published widely in the academic and popular press.

Tickets: £20


11.20 Doors open 
11.40 Sermon starts
12.30 Refreshments served 
13.00 End

Image of The Anatomy of Modern Wars

Talks & Lectures

The Anatomy of Modern Wars

29 Mar 2015, 11am

Conway Hall Ethical Society presents

Anatomy of Modern Wars

A panel of three will discuss the problems of contemporary war. The discussion will kick off with Derek Gregory’s view of the origin of warfare in human society. This will be followed by an examination of the break-up of Yugoslavia and the subsequent wars there by Vlaho Kojakovic. Then John Edwards will analyse the Russia-Ukraine conflict. After some general discussion amongst the panel, the audience will be invited to contribute their views on this vexed subject.

Derek Gregory has worked at the National Institute for Medical Research for nearly 30 years after having served in the Medical Services in the Royal Air Force. His interest is in 'reality' and all that is associated with it, which is why he attends Conway Hall Ethical Society Sunday lectures. To ‘balance things up’ he also attends his local Church-of-England on occasions to hear the other side of ‘life’. 

Vlaho Kojakovic is a Senior Banker at European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). He is responsible for the development and implementation of a sustainable development strategy within the property and tourism sector at EBRD. He is also a Board Member of the General Tourism Council of Croatia and Ukraine and an Investment Committee Member of the Global Property Fund.  

John Edwards has been a member of Conway Hall Ethical Society since 2005. His background is in industry and applied science. His first contacts with the Russian language and people were in the late 60’s but first visited Russia in 2009, and has maintained a close interest in the country ever since.

If you would like to comment on this event please visit our Ethical Record section.

Doors 10.30. Entry £3, £2 concs./free to Ethical Society members.

Tea, coffee & biscuits will be available.

Image of The People’s Panel

Talks & Lectures

The People’s Panel

Mon 30 Mar 2015, 19:00

The Young Foundation presents

The People’s Panel

Join us for the culmination of The People's Accelerator: The People's Panel.

An evening hosted by The Young Foundation, Conway Hall Ethical Society, People's Republic and Sunday Assembly's Sanderson Jones. General Secretary of the Cooperative Party, Karin Christiansen, will introduce the pitches by talking about the opportunities that alternative finance models present for social initiatives.

The event is the first of its kind - a live crowdfunding festival supporting six social justice organisations to raise the support they need to grow.

Each one has been taking part in The People's Accelerator at The Young Foundation for the past four months. The organisations are:

The Reasons Why Foundation
STEAM University
InSync Music
Connect Justice

The aim of The People’s Panel is to put the growth of important social projects in the hands of the society itself. Each organisation will present their work. They will be working to convince you, the audience, to add your support to their cause – through giving time, money or simply loud cheers of encouragement.

You can view all their crowdfunding pages here.

What is The People's Accelerator?

The People’s Accelerator supports campaigners from across the UK to build structured, high-impact and financially robust civil movements which can grow to tackle the root causes of inequality. Alongside Citizens UK and The Centre for Justice Innovation, we recruited six projects with the momentum and commitment to make this happen.

From November 2014 - March 2015 we have supported these groups to develop their ideas, build the capacity of their teams, refine their visions and accelerate their growth through targeted funding and support.

Now it's your turn to help them grow.

Join us from 7 - 9pm to see what our civil movements have started and to join in their journey.

Entry: Free.

Image of Nic Marks - Happiness at Work: A crazy idea, or realistically achievable?

Courses & Workshops

Nic Marks - Happiness at Work: A crazy idea, or realistically achievable?

Wed 8 Apr 2015, 19:00

Now Live Events presents

Nic Marks - Happiness at Work: A crazy idea, or realistically achievable?

A self-development workshop in partnership with Psychologies Magazine (

We typically spend more than 100,000 hours at work in our lifetimes. After sleep, it’s our second biggest daily activity. So, while being happy at work might sound weird - the alternative isn’t attractive.

In this workshop - a mixture of interesting research & hands-on exercises, you will learn:

How happiness at work helps us perform better

How to be happier at work

How to create a happier workplace for you and your colleagues

Nic Marks is a recognised expert in happiness and wellbeing research. His TED talk on the happy Planet index and the Five Ways to Wellbeing has been watched over a million times. Recently he founded Happiness Works - a business with a social purpose - to create happier workplaces.

Tickets: £18


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Image of London Thinks: How to Topple a Dictator

Special Events

London Thinks: How to Topple a Dictator

Wed 8 Apr 2015, 19:30

The Conway Hall Ethical Society presents

London Thinks: How to Topple a Dictator

Tipped for a Nobel Peace Prize and hailed as a world-changer by everyone from the World Economic Forum to Wired magazine, fifteen years ago Srdja Popovic was more interested in punk rock than political protest.

In conversation with Nick Cohen he will explain how he became one of the leaders of Otpor! — the movement which overthrew dictator Slobodan Milosevic — and has since gone on to train the pro-democracy activists behind the Arab Spring, Occupy, and many other movements. Drawing on his new book, Blueprint for Revolution, he will tell the stories of ‘ordinary revolutionaries’ he has been inspired by along the way, many of whom  have created social change by avoiding violence and opting for something far more powerful: a sense of humour. 

Tickets: £15 (£5 concessions and Conway Hall Ethical Society members).

(Image credit: Oliver Mark)

Image of An Introduction to Beekeeping

Talks & Lectures

An Introduction to Beekeeping

Sat 11 Apr 2015, 2.00pm

Urban & Community Beekeeping presents

An Introduction to Beekeeping

Everything you've always wanted to know about beekeeping but were afraid to ask!

The Conway Hall beekeepers are running a half day course for newbie beekeepers.

We'll cover:

  • The practicalities of beekeeping.
  • Build a hive.
  • Put on a bee suit.
  • Light a smoker.
  • Open a hive and see a colony of bees.
  • Taste some honey.

Tickets: £40 (including honey!) 

2.00 - 5.00pm 

Book early to avoid disappointment, as places are limited. 

Image of Santayana as Social and Cultural Philosopher

Talks & Lectures

Santayana as Social and Cultural Philosopher

Sun 12 Apr 2015, 11:00

Conway Hall Ethical Society presents

Tom Rubens

The Spanish-American philosopher George Santayana (1863-1952) has been an undeservedly neglected figure in British academia for many decades. This neglect is in marked contrast to the considerable attention he received in the first half of the 20th century. Santayana's range as a philosopher is wide, covering ontology, epistemology, ethics, the arts and sciences, religion, political and social issues. Also, his language possesses classic clarity. So, a revival of interest in him is long overdue - as is, indeed, a talk on him to the Conway Hall Ethical Society. His views on the excesses of industrialism and on the perennial need for virtue-politics are among the things which remain highly relevant in today’s society. This talk is designed to help bring a great philosopher back to the fore.

Tom Rubens is a semi-retired teacher of English and Philosophy. He has worked as a university and college lecturer, and as a private tutor, and is still active in the latter field. Linked to his teaching work is his writing activity: he has produced eight books on philosophy (seven published so far) and has also published poetry. A novel is due to appear later this year. 

He has been a member of Conway Hall Ethical Society since the 1980s, and has been active at Conway Hall in a number of ways: serving a brief period as editor of the Ethical Record: delivering a large number of Sunday morning lectures; and doing archive work on material in the Society's journals from the 1870s onwards.

If you would like to comment on this event please visit our Ethical Record section.

Doors 10.30. Entry £3, £2 concs./free to Ethical Society members.

Tea, coffee & biscuits will be available.

Image of William Lane Craig's Eight Reasons for God: Refuted

Talks & Lectures

William Lane Craig's Eight Reasons for God: Refuted

Sun 19 Apr 2015, 11:00

Conway Hall Ethical Society presents

Norman Bacrac

In 2014, the American Christian apologist W.L. Craig set out his eight reasons for belief in God in the bi-monthly magazine Philosophy Now, issue 99. In this talk, the validity of these eight reasons will be critically examined by atheist Norman Bacrac. Also assessed will be the morality of a God who seems to require us to have the logically impossible faculty of libertarian free will.

Norman Bacrac was first elected a Trustee of the Ethical Society several decades ago. He is also Editor of Conway Hall Ethical Society's monthly journal, Ethical Record. As a former physics teacher, he is particularly interested in the problem of how the physics of the brain generates conscious experiences, the role it might play in determining the choices we make, and the implications of all this for humanist philosophy.

If you would like to comment on this event please visit our Ethical Record section. 

Doors 10.30. Entry £3, £2 concs./free to Ethical Society members.

Tea, coffee & biscuits will be available.

Image of Do humanists need to be more outspoken on Islam and Sharia?

Talks & Lectures

Do humanists need to be more outspoken on Islam and Sharia?

Wed 22 April 2015, 19:00

The Central London Humanist Group presents

Do humanists need to be more outspoken on Islam and Sharia? - Charlie Klendjian

Charlie Klendjian is a commercial lawyer and the Secretary of the Lawyers’ Secular Society. The LSS is a group of lawyers, law students and legal professionals, both religious and non-religious, which campaigns for state neutrality towards religion and equality before the law for people of all faiths and none.

• Charlie will be leading a general discussion about the LSS, including the successful campaign against the Law Society's sharia practice note, and a new campaign highlighting that law firms providing sharia advice are uninsured

• Talking about free speech with the events in Paris and Copenhagen

• Talking about the terms "Islam" and "Islamism"

• Asking; what are secularists getting wrong? 

Doors at 6.30 pm for talk at 7.00 pm 

Please arrive early to have a glass of wine from our charity wine bar find your seat and chat with other members.

Donations to the wine bar will go to Charlie's chosen charity Tourettes Action  

All our talks are open to the general public and free to attend but we do rely on those who can, to make a donation of what they can afford, to cover the costs of room, equipment hire and help keep our talks free to all. Please give generously so we can continue with this policy.  

Brockway Room (ground floor)

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