Welfare states in Europe and America are showing signs of unsustainability. At the same time, however, countries throughout Asia are expanding their welfare programs and looking to the welfare states of the West as their model for the future.
As we approach a pivotal era, we should examine the difficulties faced by modern welfare states and compare alternatives as we move forward. In the words of Tom Palmer, in his new book After the Welfare State, "Some consider the welfare state as sacrosanct, beyond question and inherently good. "Intentions", and only intentions, are what matter for such people. Intentions are certainly important to evaluating human behaviour, but in evaluating institutions, we should also look at evidence and then investigate the incentives that have led to particular consequences". As Palmer suggests, rather than merely praising the good intentions of welfare states, we should examine the incentives they produce and the real consequences that result.
Many have offered their thoughts on the history, economics, sociology and ethics of welfare states. The readings for this Colloquium will be drawn from great thinkers in this tradition. The colloquium will explore questions such as:
- What are the historical and ideological origins of the welfare state?
- What social institutions for care of the needy existed before they were displaced by the welfare state?
- Are welfare state institutions compatible with democratic liberalism in the long run?
- What are the promises and pitfalls of welfare states?
- What are the alternatives to the modern welfare state?
What is the Colloquium?
CCS Colloquium is a two-day (three nights) residential program and forum for in-depth discussion centred on a chosen theme. The Colloquium provides participants an opportunity to disentangle themselves from the distractions of everyday life to reflect on issues of fundamental and enduring importance. Our hope is that participants will go on to share their advanced understandings and to develop innovative ideas and approaches for the advancement of liberalism today.
Unlike a traditional conference in which some lecture and others listen, participants at the Colloquium explore a specified theme together by discussing texts they have read in advance. Their shared inquiry is guided by a discussion leader who offers probing questions and helps to keep things moving, but who does not lecture or advocate for any specific interpretation of the texts. The purpose of the discussions is not to convey doctrine or to drive home certain pre-conceived conclusions but to challenge participants to examine, refine, and develop their own ideas by engaging with others interested in the same issues.
The discussions at the Colloquium are relaxed but maintain an air of formality. Participants are encouraged to listen attentively to one another's thoughts and concerns and to ask questions related to the text as a way of deepening their understanding of the issue and of each other.
Participants are also required to follow certain rules: they must speak one at a time, have the text in their minds and on the table in front of them, and are expected to support their assertions with reasoned argument and evidence from the text. During the formal discussions, participants are also required to keep their references to things that have been read in common or that are common knowledge. No technical jargon or specialised background knowledge is admitted. The purpose of these restrictions is to ensure that "reason is the only authority" and that everyone can think for themselves and judge what is being discussed. Social time and breaks, besides providing opportunities to network and have fun, also allow participants to continue to debate and discuss the issues raised in the formal conversations.
How does it Work?
CCS will select 20 participants from various backgrounds such as think tanks, academia, media, corporates, government and NGOs.
Some of the participants will be invited directly by CCS without application while others will be selected from a pool of interested applicants on a competitive basis.
We will distribute the Colloquium Reader, a selection of articles or chapters by various authors, to the participants two months in advance. Participants are required to read and reflect on these texts carefully before the Colloquium as they serve as the foundation for the shared inquiry discussions. Participants are responsible for the content of the discussions, thus the quality of the program depends entirely on their thorough preparation.
Six discussion leaders will be chosen from among the participants to facilitate each session of the Colloquium.
In order to participate, one must be able to attend the entire Colloquium (Check in: after 12 pm on 21 June, Check out: before 12 pm on 24 June).The formal program will begin with an opening dinner reception on 21 June and will end with a closing dinner on 23 June. Participants may choose to leave after 7:00 pm on 23 June when the formal part of the Colloquium ends.
Application Deadline: 12 May 2013
Eligibility: Individuals with domain knowledge, experience or interest on the chosen theme of the Colloquium from corporate, think tanks, development sector, government, academia or the media are eligible.
Registration Fee: The fee for the colloquium is Rs 3500, which includes all meals mentioned in the program schedule and a three-night stay at the venue. This fee is payable upon selection, and payment can be made online or through cheque (Participants must make their own travel arrangements).