As ever, our speakers are drawn from a fascinating array of backgrounds, each bringing something unique from their field of expertise to our understanding and dicussion of our central theme: Seeking meaning in the modern world. The conference was chaired by Dr Declan Lyons, Consultant Psychiatrist at St. Patrick's University Hospital, Dublin.
“The Adventurer Philosophical” is how Adrian Turpin of The Independent described Twigger – his eclectic range of travel books, which regale us with tales of his varied expeditions to remote places from North Borneo to the Egyptian Sahara, focus on adventure, hardship and humour.
In his own words, the underlying theme of his work is "stretching myself and learning more, or studying others who have pushed themselves to become bigger and more accomplished people. My one novel, Dr Ragab's Universal Language, is about a polymath living in 1920s Egypt. My travel book, Voyageur, was an attempt to experience what is was like to be an explorer in the 1800s by using a traditonal bark canoe and following an early explorer route in North America. This experience was combined with historical knowledge to give a more polymathic – and more useful – perspective. I am currently writing a polymathic 'biography' of the Himalayas. This includes science, history, geography and personal experience of the region."
TALK (with John-Paul Flintoff): What comes next – stories – meaning-centred living
John-Paul is a writer, performer and coach. His books have been published in 14 languages worldwide.
The latest, How To Change The World, is a practical manual designed to help readers identify the changes they want to see – and to overcome the obstacles that might otherwise hold them back. It contains ideas from history, philosophy and psychology – and from the many change-makers John-Paul has met during his 15-year career as a writer on The Financial Times and The Sunday Times.
He has an unusually wide life experience, having worked as a bin man, an executive PA, a scuba diver, a poet, a taxi driver, a tailor, a gardener, an ice-cream salesman, a hairdresser, an assistant undertaker, a bit-part player in pantomime, a waiter, an illustrator, a high-wire window cleaner, a photographer, a very amateur boxer, a karaoke singer, and a rat catcher.
John-Paul trained in theatrical improvisation with Keith Johnstone, and with the Coaches Training Institute he qualified as an ICF-certified life coach. Through both impro and coaching, he works to bring out people's creativity, spontaneity, authenticity, leadership, and communication skills.
TALK (with Robert Twigger): What comes next – stories – meaning-centred living
John Bell is the Director of the Middle East & Mediterranean Programme at the Toledo International Centre for Peace. He is also a former Canadian and United Nations diplomat who has worked extensively in the Middle East in Cairo, Gaza, Beirut and Jerusalem on issues ranging from Islamic fundamentalism to the peace process.
He has been a member of Canada's delegation to the Refugee Working Group in the peace process, political adviser to the personal representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations for southern Lebanon, adviser to the Canadian Government during the Iraq crisis in 2002/3 and consultant to the International Crisis Group on recent developments in Jerusalem.
He is a founding member of the Jerusalem Old City Initiative (Universities of Toronto and Windsor), an effort to find creative options for this contentious issue. John Bell has written extensively on Middle East issues in magazines and newspapers across the globe. He is originally from the region and a living example of its shared and mixed heritage.
He views the human givens framework as a missing piece in the equation when attempting to manage international relations. The innate emotional needs of everyone involved have to be taken into accound – needs that motivate our behaviour.
TALK: How the need for meaning is driving current events in the Middle East
Professor Patrick Jordan
Patrick W. Jordan is a world-renowned expert in the area of business psychology. He is a strategic advisor to many of the world’s leading companies as well as to the UK Government.
Dr Jordan enables companies and organisations to understand their customers attitudes and behaviours and to meet their needs. He also helps them to maximise their productivity, innovativeness and employee satisfaction.
Patrick’s approach is based on the latest scientifically validated findings from psychology and the social sciences. He uses tools and techniques that give unique insights into customers’ practical and emotional needs, enabling his clients to work effectively to develop successful products, services and marketing campaigns.
TALK: The joys and sorrows of the modern world: Finding meaning and pleasure in life, work and love
Professor Gwen Griffith-Dickson
Professor Griffith-Dickson specialises in the philosophy and theology of different faiths. She has done groundbreaking work in bringing an interfaith approach to theology and the philosophy of religion. Her research work focuses on the beliefs of different religions, their mutual relations, and their impact on contemporary issues.
Born and raised in Hawaii, her academic career has been spent in London. At the University of London, Birkbeck College, she developed and managed the country’s largest continuing education programme in Religious Studies, along with Islamic Studies, Theology and Philosophy. She was the first woman to hold the Gresham Chair in Divinity in 2001 at Gresham College. She left Birkbeck in 2004 to found The Lokahi Foundation.
With a background in theology and philosophy, teaching and research interests span the two disciplines, with a major focus on the philosophy of religion.
Gwen's principal research interests comprise the philosophical issues of religions, and the relation of different faiths and their shared histories and beliefs. She has a background in Continental European Philosophy, especially German thought, as well as a keen interest in Hawaiian Studies. Theological interests are at the philosophical end of theology: language, religious knowledge and metaphysics, interpretation and methodology.
Gwen was Vice-Principal - Academic of Heythrop College, the specialist philosophy and theology college of the University of London, from 2012-2015. She is currently Visiting Professor at King's College London.
TALK: Religion in the modern world: meaning or mayhem?
Explore our articles and interviews
In 1991 Sue Hanisch was caught up in an IRA bombing at Victoria Station, London. She lost her right leg as a result and sufferd from severe PTSD for nine years…
Mark Evans describes how working imaginatively with rewards and punishments has helped his clients achieve very swift change
Ivan Tyrrell reviews "The Buddha Pill: can meditation change you?" by Miguel Farias and Catherine Wikholm (Watkins Publishing, £10.99).
Emily Gajewski describes how the human givens approach has provided a practical focus for working with women struggling to cope with everyday life
Sian Withers shows how she makes very good use of the human givens approach thousands of feet up in the air.
Read Mike Beard's therapist account of Nina's treatment.
Julia Welstead looks at the impact of bereavement and grief
Even though self-harm is discussed in the media, the subject of self-harming can still feel difficult to approach. Emily Gajewski's ‘From Self-harm to Self-belief’ one-day training course offers clear, research-based framework and practical skills, so you needn’t feel that way again….