BHA Convention 2017
Join us in Cambridge over the weekend of 9–11 June for the most open, most thrilling, and most entertaining Convention ever. Kicking off on the Friday evening with a massive comedy evening open to all delegates, the weekend will speed by leaving you entertained, uplifted, and wanting more.
Read about all our speakers announce so far or take a look at our tickets and see how we've made this the most affordable BHA Convention ever.
Jim Al-Khalili OBE is a British scientist, author and broadcaster. A well-known science communicator, he is a professor of Physics at the University of Surrey where he also holds a chair in the Public Engagement in Science. He is a Vice President of the British Humanist Association, having been President from 2012 to 2015.
Andrew Copson is the Chief Executive of the British Humanist Association, and the President of the International Humanist and Ethical Union.
Helen Czerski is a physicist, oceanographer and broadcaster with a passion for science, sport, books, creativity, hot chocolate and investigating the interesting things in life. She currently works in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at University College London, and is a science presenter for the BBC.
Dr Kate Devlin is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Computing at Goldsmiths, University of London. Coming from an Arts and Humanities background and now working in STEM, Kate investigates how people interact with and react to technologies, both past and future. She works in the fields of Human Computer Interaction (HCI) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), focusing on cognition, sex, gender and sexuality, and how these might be incorporated into cognitive systems such as sexual companion robots. She was Co-Chair of the widely reported Love and Sex with Robots 2016 and ran the UK’s first sex tech hackathon. Kate is a campaigner for gender equality and is involved in national initiatives to improve opportunities for women in tech.
Karen Douglas is a Professor of Social Psychology at the University of Kent. In addition to conducting work on the psychology of conspiracy theories, she is involved in projects examining sexism in language, the influence of sexist ideology on attitudes toward pregnant women, and the psychology of internet behaviour.
At the age of six, Lord Dubs was one of 669 Czech-resident, mainly Jewish, children saved from the Nazis by English stockbroker Nicholas Winton on the Kindertransport (Dubs’ father was Jewish). His father had fled to England the day the Nazis arrived in Czechoslovakia on 15 March 1939, and he met Alf when he arrived in London. Dubs learned how he had arrived in the UK when Nicholas Winton’s story was broadcast in 1988. He later met Winton in person and campaigned for him to be knighted, which he was. In 1979, Lord Dubs was elected as an MP for Battersea South. From 1988 to 1995 he was director of the Refugee Council. He became a peer in 1994 and served as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Northern Ireland Office from 1997-99 and as chair of Labour peers from 2000-05. Among Lord Dubs’ many achievements, his sponsorship of an amendment to the Immigration Act 2016 to offer unaccompanied refugee children safe passage to Britain amidst the European migrant crisis. His amendment, with some revisions, was eventually accepted by the Government after public opinion swung decisively in favour of supporting child refugees.
Julia Ebner is a Policy Analyst at Quilliam. Her research focuses on EU terrorism prevention initiatives and counter-extremism policies in the UK, France and Germany. She co-authored “The EU and Terrorism: Is Britain Safer In or Out?” and contributed extensively to the EU-funded TERRA policy advice report as well as research projects for FATE (Families Against Terrorism and Extremism) and the Kofi Annan Foundation. Julia has given evidence to parliamentary working groups, spoken at international conferences and in Parliament, held workshops in schools and universities, written for The Guardian, The Independent and Left Foot Forward and given live TV and radio interviews for BBC World News, CNN International, France24, LBC and others.
Ali Hamedani is at BBC Persian journalist. He presented Our world: Iran's sex change solution. When President Ahmadinejad declared that 'in Iran we don't have any homosexuals', Ali chose to investigate the plight of LGBT Iranians. Not being allowe to enter Iran, he instead visited Turkey where many LGBT refugees who had sought refuge, from the government, friends, and families attempting to force them to undergo sex reassignment surgery.
An Iranian, he was recently held detained by US Border Officials on the first day of President Trump's Muslim Ban, and live-tweeted the experience.
Jay Harman is the British Humanist Association’s Faith Schools and Education Campaigner. He works on all the BHA’s education issues, from school admissions and discrimination in employment, to religious education, collective worship, and evolution vs creationism in schools.
Julian Huppert was the Member of Parliament for Cambridge between 2010-2015, during which time he served as Vice-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group, and among other campaigns, argued strongly for humanist marriages to be allowed in England and Wales. He is also an academic, previously working on unusual DNA structures and how they can be targeted to develop anti-cancer agents, and now increasingly focusing on public policy and how to do it better – including championing the use of evidence.
Robin Ince is a comedian, actor, writer, and creator of the incredibly popular 'Lessons and Carols for Godless People', celebrating science and featuring scientists, musicians, and comedians. He presents The Infinite Monkey Cage with Brian Cox on BBC Radio 4. Robin will be the host for our Friday evening comedy spectacular.
Sara Khan is an award winning human rights and counter-extremism activist and author of the best-selling book The Battle for British Islam: Reclaiming Muslim Identity from Extremism.
Having worked and actively campaigned for women’s rights within Muslim communities for over 20 years, Sara co-founded Inspire in 2008 to empower Muslim women, raise awareness of their inequalities and challenge the growing extremism often justified in the name of Islam.
Born in Iran in 1973, Shappi Khorsandi and her family were forced to flee from Iran to London after the Islamic Revolution, as her father had written satirical poetry. She is a comedian, performs stand-up, and has appeared on many radio and television shows, including Shappi Talk and Question Time. She became President of the British Humanist Association in January 2016.
Mark Lynas is the author of several books on the environment, including High Tide, Six Degrees, and The God Species. He is a frequent speaker around the world on climate change, biotechnology and nuclear power, and was climate change advisor to the President of the Maldives between 2009 and 2011. He now works with the Cornell Alliance for Science, funded entirely by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He is also a member of the advisory board of the science advocacy group Sense About Science, and campaigns on behalf of various pro-science causes.
Daniel Nabarro studied Electrical Sciences at Clare College at the University of Cambridge, and has an MBA from Simon Fraser University. As an entrepreneur he has founded a number of tech startups and other businesses, most recenttly figleaves.com, an online lingerie retailer with more than 200 employees. He is now retired, and is co-founder and Chairman of Nip in the Bud, a charity aiming to improve the lives of young people with mental health disorders.
His talk will be on 'Living and Dying with Early Onset Alzheimers'; he was diagnosed three years ago.
Teddy is the BHA’s Director of Community Services, responsible for the strategic development of the services the BHA offers in education, pastoral support, ceremonies, and other aspects of support in the community, in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. He is also responsible for development of research and pilot projects to ensure the secure future and promote the value of the services the BHA provides.
Before joining the BHA, Teddy was a senior leader in education, working in a large academy in West London, and came to the BHA from Mencap where he led national projects for children and families.
Kate Smurthwaite is a left-wing, feminist, atheist stand-up comedian and political activist. She performs all over the UK and around the world at major clubs including The Comedy Store, Comedy Cafe, The Stand, Covent Garden Comedy Club, Soho Comedy Club and Crack Comedy Club. She also writes and tours an annual solo show of highbrow left wing comedy under the name The News At Kate which has been a feature of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival since 2009. In 2013 she won a Three Weeks' Editor's Choice Award naming her one of the ten best things about the Edinburgh Fringe.
Tommy Sheppard MP
Tommy Sheppard is the SNP MP for Edinburgh East, having been elected in the 2015 General Election. He has held office in the National Union of Students, was formerly a councillor in London and moved back to Scotland having been appointed under leader John Smith, to be a full-time organiser for the Labour Party. Tommy is a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Humanist Group; his other political interests include human rights, Palestine, anti-poverty, austerity, and equality issues. Tommy is the SNP’s spokesperson on the Cabinet Office.
Richy Thompson works on issues from across the BHA’s public policy remit. From May 2011 to February 2015 he was the Faith Schools and Education Campaigns Officer, and before that he was the President of the National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies. Richy is the Treasurer of the Religious Education Council of England and Wales, a member of the advisory group of the Sex Education Forum, and on the steering groups of Voice for Choice, the Accord Coalition for inclusive education and the Fair Admissions Campaign.
Richard Wiseman is Professor of the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He has written several best-selling popular psychology books that have sold more than 3 million copies worldwides. His YouTube channels have more than 2 million subscribers and more than half a billion views between them. Richard was listed in the Independent On Sunday’s top 100 people who make Britain a better place to live, and has acted as a consultant for Derren Brown, Brain Games, Your Bleeped Up Brain, and Mythbusters. His research has been published in some of the world’s leading academic journals, and he has delivered keynote addresses to organisations across the world, including The Swiss Economic Forum, Google and Amazon.
Atheists, Humanists, and Secular Students
The AHS is an association of atheist, humanist and secular student societies facilitated and supported by the British Humanist Association (BHA). Its vision is to see a thriving atheist, humanist or secular student society in every institute of Higher Education in the UK and Republic of Ireland, networked together, with a shared voice in public life, whose members can contribute to and be part of the wider national and international movement.
With over 400 members and supporters the Defence Humanists (formerly the UK Armed Forces Humanist Association) is a growing network of non-religious service personnel, MOD civil servants, veterans and their families within the British Humanist Association who seek to represent the interests of all those who subscribe to humanist ideals.
Faith to Faithless
Faith to Faithless was founded in 2015 by Aliyah Saleem and Imtiaz Shams, now a trustee of the British Humanist Association, in order to draw attention to the discrimination faced in particular by 'minorities within minorities and to give a platform to the faithless and 'apostates, to come out in public and speak out against this discrimination.
with LGBT Refugees
For over 30 years LGBT Humanists has promoted Humanism as a rational, naturalistic worldview that trusts the scientific method as the most reliable route to truth and encourages a moral and ethical life based on logic, reason and compassion. It campaigns for equality and diversity, particularly relating to sexual orientation and identity – both in the UK and internationally. Since 2012, it has been proud to be the LGBT section of the British Humanist Association.
London Humanist Choir
The London Humanist Choir focuses on promoting humanism in the arts. A section of the BHA, they aim to provide a choir to anyone who wishes to sing non-religous music, promote Humanism and humanist arts through public performances, be an inclusive community founded on humanist principles, and showcase songs composed for the Choir to be used in humanist ceremonies and events.
Humanists are people who believe in our ability to be good, caring and productive without believing in gods and goddesses, or belonging to a religion. We believe reason and empathy are the best ways of working out what is right and wrong, and solving problems faced by society. Their focus is the here and now, and working together to make our world a better place for everyone. Most younger people share these values, even if they don't call themselves humanists yet. Young Humanists is the 18-35s section of the BHA.
BHA Convention 2017 is the most affordable ever, with tickets starting at £99 for members and just £49 for students.
All ticketholders are entitled to attend all sessions of the Convention from Friday evening through to Sunday afternoon.
Add lunch, teas, and coffees on the Saturday and Sunday for just £30. Tickets for the Gala Dinner on the Saturday evening are now sold out.
The Humanist Professionals Conference will be integrated with BHA Convention 2017. Taking place from 11:00 on Friday 9 June, the Conference will provide valuable training, CPD, and networking opportunities for all humanist professionals – celebrants, pastoral carers, school speakers – and those aspiring to become one. All BHA Convention ticket-holders may attend the Humanist Professionals Conference free of charge, by selecting the free add-on when purchasing their ticket. Standalone tickets for the Humanist Professionals Conference are available for £49.
Please note that there are only a limited number of tickets available for the Humanist Professionals Conference, and that they will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. More details will be provided at a later date.
Our home for the weekend is the Cambridge Corn Exchange – the only venue in the city large enough to host our busiest ever Convention.
Throughout the weekend we'll also be hosting parallel sessions in the Cambridge Guildhalls, just a two minute walk around the corner.
For the first time, in addition to sending emails, we'll be using an app (iOS and Android) to give delegates all the information they might need for the full weekend.
Find information on all our speakers, see exactly what's happening when and where, and follow what everyone's saying about the event on Twitter.
As the Convention approaches, useful documents such as joining instructions and seating plans will be added, making our Convention app your handy one-stop shop for everything going on, before and during the event.
See your confirmation email for details on how to download the app.
Please read the BHA Convention 2017 event policies, including regarding tickets, cancellations, and recording on the day.
Helen Czerski photo by Alex Brenner
2 Wheeler St
Cambridge, CB2 3QB