The University of Manchester
School of Arts, Languages and Cultures
Samuel Alexander Building, WG16
Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PL, UK
Phone: +44 (0)161 275 3064




What does it mean to exist in complex relationships with machines? What insights can be offered to our understandings of these relationships by the theologically significant theme of ‘love’? What critical assessments can be made of our multiple uses of technologies in shaping our futures, by reflecting on our pasts?

Events and Outputs
> NEW! Robots vs Loneliness?
> NEW! Focus Groups
> Conference: Care and Machines
Useful links 

Disquiet over the prevalence of social and economic individualism has a long history. In a world of mobile Capital and increasingly mobile people, communities of common tradition and locality appear to be under threat from the advent of a fragmented market society. Are these complaints against individualism justified? And crucially, how should Christians respond to them? Digging down into the substance of these questions, this project will consider the theological, liturgical and scriptural resources Christians have for understanding the notion of individualism in relation to issues of education, public life and the formation of democratic citizenship.

Workshop 2 Afternoon Discussion Notes


September 19, 2008

Jon Coaffee and Paul O’Hare, ‘Planning for Risk?’ Professional Responsibility, Ethical Obligations and Public Interest’

Counter terrorism and how this synchronises with climate change.

How do Policy communities grapple with these issues?

“Making Place and Mediating Space” – How can the built environment mediate climate change?

Notion of Risk is being passed down the macro to the micro scale.

How individuals’ behaviour alters the greater issue.

What does ‘security’ mean?

April Strategy includes security issues for foreign policy. We are all being told that we are ‘managing risks’.

Planning Profession - Public interest, what are public and what are private issues?

Pressure on the planning profession to deliver acceptable development (planners and architects)

How public interest is compromised in achieving security and responsibility.

MI5 and intelligence agencies and their roles

Attacks on crowded places. Every crowded place in Britain is vulnerable to attack.

Does this increase the surveillance to domestic life?

Some professions are losing autonomous capacity do to this security threat.

Greatest threat is pandemic flu rather than terrorism.

National Risk: What is the boundary of our moral universe: Me, family, city, nation, beyond nation?….

Where are the military / intelligence, putting the boundaries?


A: National security in an inter-dependent world.

Primary school curriculum = very national focussed.

Crowded places: How can we design cities to create more public interaction, communal areas which will be targeted? Should we hide them; how?

What is being/feeling ‘safe’? – The Psychological problem

What is the social acceptability of risk?

3 monthly questionnaires for singe middle-aged lady – police often ask, “Do you feel safe?”

Instead of designing better city centres, invigorating space which is ‘unsafe’, security measures are used.

How can we make planning more ‘friendly’?

Linguistic issue: What is it we are talking about? Is the war of terrorism actually that? –

What has this to do with Afghanistan?

Uncertainty surrounding climate change – does that means action is delayed and procrastinated.

Government are keen not to be blamed for allowing terrorist attacks.

How can we get a government to look beyond the next election? People founding the

EU wanted to ensure no further inter-European wars. We need the individual politicians to prioritise this.

Surveillance state or cosmopolitan state?

We seem to moving towards the surveillance state with control and cooperation.

Why? Is it the threat leading to surveillance – is it the perception of state?

Is it government led or security agencies?

Protect and survive pamphlet: protestors campaigned not to accept this message. We must remove the current approach and promote a more bottom-up approach,

To what extent do we become complicit to this leadership? Are we colluding with a negative process by our passive acceptance of the increased security/surveillance measures?

How security responses can be worked out in the urban environment. Instead of gating, look to street furniture. Can we get security that provides both safety and normal places to enjoy – a dual benefit for buildings where people do not feel threatened, yet accommodate preventative measures. E.g. Trees instead of bollards.

“Aestheticisation of security measures!”

If it is disguised are we not allowing a controlling security led environment.

Just because it is pretty, does that make it ok? If it looks nice this is uncontested which reveals the strategy to be a dominating behaviour.

All governments are surveillance orientated. When the state is privatised, walls go up.

The presence of security guards has more of a presence, which is positive, as it is a human face – or it just makes it more tangible that security is present to dissuade crime?

Deportation camps – An in between zone of imprisonment and living in society. How much is this to do with the design of cities. The control can be more officious.

People are left out of the National Risk Register 2008. People seen as a threat e.g:


Counter terrorism command – We have 5 units in England and Wales.

Authorities in control, or want to feel in control.

Career prospects are also important ideals and control the behaviour of the security forces.

Need to be aware of how subvergent systems are viewed by the authorities.

System Barriers: Even if you create ‘safe’, ‘ecological’ environments you still need compliance for them to work.

Are there always situations where people refuse to be contained?

There needs to be some social movement, which prevents us from going down the route of all powerful government.

Modern urban industrial societies are vulnerable to attack. 9/11 prime example.

City bombs 92-4

Radical and violent social movement will emerge if the climate issue is not addressed, due to the increasing natural threats. It is in self-interest, let alone moral motivation to act.

Is fear a good thing?

If people fear – do they lose hope?

Increased discourse, which only provokes fear is unhelpful. Wherever the narrative is situation, this response follows accordingly. I.e.; 9/11 now bringing in security measures natural development over time.

“National Ethics” – we should prepare the nation to have a moral obligation, but we must prevent xenophobia. A value of preciousness of all people must be fostered, not just within our boundaries.

Where does contraction and convergence come into the Empathy paper?

Imagined community has to have a macro-level.

How much should developing countries be allowed to develop before imposing environmental responsibility, which constrain the development? We can enjoy these new technologies due to successful histories of industrialisation. Where is the empathy for these developing countries?

Chinese installed more wind power than Britain.

Wave power etc. It can be done.

Should the onus of environmentally conscious technology be solely on the industrialised nations?

We are 3 times as wealthy as 40 years ago in terms of material wealth. Can we not share this out?!

State of panic of influx of refugees!

By starting to build local, resilient communities, what you create is the ability for adaptations.

At present we have a state of permanent low-level anxiety and not a state of alarm re: immigration.

If a release of information of risks to the public, is distributed, can this make society more adaptable / willing?

We would never have got an emergency planning policy =if there was no imminent threat of terror.

Paradox – People want the state to be in charge – is this healthy?

Environmental agency amazed at the willingness of people taking responsibility for local flood management.

Taking control of land for sustainable use is both responsible and radical.