Newcastle University Business School

Event Item

Little Heresies in Public Policy

Curb your Neuro-Enthusiasm

Date/Time: 16th June 2016, 17:30 - 20:00

Date:Thursday 16 June 2016

Time: 17.30-20.00 (17.30-18.00, registration and refreshments)

Location: The Partners Room, Newcastle University Business School, 5 Barrack Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 4SE


Free registration


Will understanding our brains and genes really create a better world?

Professor Sue White, University of Birmingham.


Attempts at human and social improvement rely on science and reason.


But who benefits? And who is controlled? There are fundamental dilemmas and contradictions in the enduring utopian project of human improvement.  At present, the contradictions are obscured by a high-tech turn in the bio-sciences. The neuro prefix, (neuromarketing, neurotourism, neuromanagement etc) has become ubiquitous. Technological biologies have proved very enticing for politicians and welfare campaigners alike.


Scientists under pressure from the 'impact' agenda and perhaps their own moral positions, make portentous claims.  But the moral complexities have not gone away. Indeed, rejuvenated biological understandings add to the moral maze.  Utopians, like circus horses, smelling the sawdust, cannot help but dance. The tune may be different but the steps are well rehearsed. In this talk, we meet some of the key actors in this emerging landscape, politicians, campaigners, scientists, laboratory rats and a fair few people to be fixed.


This is a free to attend event though registration is required


About Professor Sue White


Sue White is Professor of Social Work at the University of Birmingham (and will be joining the University of Sheffield in October 2016). 


Sue’s research interests are in the sociological analysis of professional judgement and decision-making, with an emphasis on how science, formal knowledge, rhetoric, moral judgement, emotion and subjectivity interact in professional practice, particularly in child health and welfare. She has written and campaigned widely on the design of organisational systems and technologies to support professional decision-making, based on human factors.


Sue’s research has been influential in informing policy developments and the reform of social work.  She has been involved in the social work reform process in England over a number of years, having served on the Social Work Task Force, the Social Work Reform Board and the reference group for the Munro Review of child protection services in England.


Sue is currently involved in an international study examining social workers’ understanding of family complexity and is researching the interpretation of emerging developments in biology in social policy.