Preview: Seminar Programme

In this guest blog, our new Seminar Convenor, Michael Nelles, offers a preview of our upcoming autumn seminars.

Our next seminar series is just around the corner, and the programme has shaped up to be quite a diverse one indeed.  We have eight seminars coming up at the IHR in 2013-2014, and our autumn series is now confirmed!

When I took over as Seminar Convenor at the beginning of the summer, our incoming Chair, Meta Zimmeck, had done some analysis of the range and scope of our previous seminar offerings, revealing topical areas and time periods that had been comparatively under-explored.  The sensible thing to do seemed to be to work to fill some of these gaps, so this year I have invited a range of speakers who will hopefully help us to do just that.

We get things moving with Christopher Dyer on 7th October, as he presents his work into late-Medieval methods of poor relief.  Professor Dyer will explore the treatment of the poor in England between 1300 and 1600, and explain how the state ultimately came to make compulsory arrangements for welfare based on voluntary systems that evolved from local institutions and practices. Those of you eager to read ahead may wish to consult his article, ‘Poverty and Its Relief in Late Medieval England’ in Past & Present no. 216 (Aug 2012).

Following this, we’ll be introducing a new element into our seminar programme—a series of ‘Witness’ seminars in which we will tap into the knowledge of historical players on the voluntary action and philanthropy scene over the past twenty-odd years.

We have invited David Billis to give the first of these on 4th NovemberDavid Billis was the outstanding pioneer of the academic study of the voluntary sector in the United Kingdom. He established the UK’s first university-based programme of research and teaching about voluntary action (PORTVAC) at Brunel University In 1978 and launched the first specialist postgraduate course for the sector in 1987. He moved to LSE in 1989 to set up the influential Centre for Voluntary Organisation (CVO) where he set the first postgraduate course for international NGOs (in 1990) and, with Dennis Young, established the international journal of Nonprofit Management and Leadership. David has developed a theoretical framework for understanding the sector in a series of papers and articles and two major books – Organising Public and Voluntary Agencies (Routledge, 1993) and Hybrid Organizations and the Third Sector (Palgrave, 2010).  In this witness seminar David will talk about his life and his intellectual formation; discuss the way in which he became involved in the study of the sector; tell us about the establishment of PORTVAC and the CVO; set out his approach to building a theory of the sector; give us some reflections on what was going on at that time in the worlds of policy and practice; discuss the development of an academic field of voluntary sector studies; reflect on his links with the American scholarly community; and end with a short postscript on the state of the sector and the field of study today.

A discussion on Twitter brought us into Daryl Leeworthy’s orbit.  Daryl has recently moved to the University of Huddersfield, scene of our recent Conference, and his seminar on 18th November will explore the relationship between voluntarism and municipalism in the South Wales Coalfield, and its impact on recreational space and the expansion of playing fields, swimming pools and other sporting facilities during the inter-war years.

Sarah Mills will round out our autumn programme on 2nd December with a seminar on the historical geographies of the Scout movement. Her paper will explore concepts of youth citizenship in the first half of the twentieth century and the role of adult volunteers in ‘mixing the medicine of scouting’, investigating how the Scouts were able to construct a duty-bound self-regulated individual that would contribute as part of a wider collective body of British youth.

Details for our winter programme have been coming together nicely and are nearly ready.  Watch this space!!

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