Swarthmore Lecture 2022

04 August 2021

Woodbrooke is delighted to announce Helen Minnis as the 2022 Swarthmore Lecturer. Helen will speak from her experience as a scientist and a Quaker, addressing issues of white privilege within the Quaker movement and scientific community. Woodbrooke and Helen see the lecture as part of the ongoing conversation within Britain Yearly Meeting, and Quakers worldwide, about becoming an anti-racist church and what that means.

Helen is Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Glasgow. She has had a longstanding clinical and research focus on the psychiatric problems of abused and neglected children. Helen has over 120 published articles and as well as being Professor at the University of Glasgow, has collaborated with colleagues at King’s College London, the Universities of Aalborg and Aarhus in Denmark, and the Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre, Gothenburg, Sweden. Her recent TEDx talk at Glasgow was on the theme of “Leading by admitting you don’t know.”

Helen is an Elder at Glasgow Quaker Meeting and has been involved in contributing to Britain Yearly Meeting’s consideration of power, privilege, and anti-racism – including speaking at Yearly Meeting Gathering 2021, West Scotland Area Meeting, and at the Northern Young Friends’ Summer Shindig in 2020 alongside her daughter. She has a longstanding involvement in Glasgow Children’s Meeting, particularly supporting theatrical/musical ministry of young people – something that reflects her own experience with the Leaveners. Helen is a member of the Quaker Black, Brown, and People of Colour Fellowship.

Helen hopes to use the months leading up to the lecture to collaborate with others and share stories as she builds up her ministry that will be given during Yearly Meeting 2022. She sees her lecture as building on the 2021 Lecture by Thomas Penny that called for Kinder Ground when having difficult conversations and seeking truth. More updates and information will come out over the next year about the shape of the 2022 lecture and how to get involved.

Martina Weitsch, Clerk of the Swarthmore Lecture Committee noted that: “This is not an easy topic, but a very important one in the life of Britain Yearly Meeting. When discerning the name and shaping the topic for the 2022 lecture we found a strong leading lead us towards Helen Minnis. Her ability to think and listen deeply and thoughtfully about difficult issues is a real gift, and her experience both as an individual and working alongside a broad range of Quakers in engaging faithfully with issues of white privilege makes her uniquely placed to give this vital lecture. We’re excited by Helen’s plans to see the lecture as a process, as part of the wider work by Quakers, including a lecture rather than a single presentation.”

The 2022 Swarthmore Lecture is planned to take place as part of Britain Yearly Meeting, to be held over the weekend of 27-30 May 2022.

You can find out updates about the 2022 Swarthmore lecture and watch previous lectures at: www.woodbrooke.org.uk/swarthmore.

  • The Swarthmore Lecture is funded and organised by Woodbrooke, an international Quaker learning and research organisation.

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