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A public panel discussion as part of the Royal Society's President's Programme. This event is supported by Prospect Magazine

Chair: Melvyn Bragg, Lord Bragg of Wigton

Panelists: Professor Stefan Collini FBA, Professor of Intellectual History and English Literature, University of Cambridge, Rt. Hon John Denham MP, Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, Sian Ede , Arts Director, Gulbenkian Foundation and Professor Marcus du Sautoy, Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science, University of Oxford.


In May 1959, the British scientist and novelist C P Snow delivered his influential Rede Lecture on 'The Two Cultures'. Its central argument was that a breakdown of communication between the two cultures of modern society - the sciences and the literary - was holding back our ability to tackle the world's problems. The term 'two cultures' persists as shorthand for the notion that there is a damaging rift between science and other types of knowledge.

Fifty years on, the Royal Society is hosting a public debate to revisit the two cultures argument and assess its applicability to our situation today. Was the two cultures idea exaggerated at the time? Is it a damaging simplification? Is it relevant today? Are the most important intellectual endeavours those which lie in between or combine different cultures? The panel representing science, humanities, politics and the arts will discuss these and similar questions.

The lecture is free - no ticket or advanced booking required. Doors open at 5.45 pm and seats will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.