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UNESCO City of Design status debated at Abertay

15 December 2015

Dundee’s success in becoming the UK’s only UNESCO City of Design was hotly debated at Abertay University’s Annual Dundee Schools Modern Studies Debate today (Tuesday 15 December).

Over 360 pupils from schools across the city gathered in the university’s Main Lecture Theatre to hear Professor Alex Law and Dr Donncha Marron debate the motion 'Dundee becoming the first UNESCO City of Design will do little to alleviate its high levels of social deprivation'.

This topic was chosen to link into the Higher Modern Studies curriculum. Professor Law argued in favour of the motion, while Dr Marron argued against.

Each was then given the chance of a rebuttal, and the audience were invited to pose questions to the speakers.

However, as Dr Jason Annetts – who Chaired the event – explains, although an audience vote was still taken before and after the debate, this year things were slightly different from usual:

“This is the seventh time we’ve held this debate, and each year it gets better and better. However, unlike in previous years where we have simply asked pupils whether they agreed or disagreed with the main motion, this year they were asked to respond to a series of questions both before and after the presentations.

“These questions were aimed at getting them to consider the complex decision-making processes associated with making public funding decisions.

“We got them to think about things like whether the Government should be spending our taxes on funding cultural organisations and events, and whether the redevelopment of Dundee as a cultural and design centre will have a significant positive economic and social impact on the working classes in Dundee.

“These things are all extremely relevant to people in the city just now and will affect young people in the future, so getting the pupils to think about things like what the tax their parents have to pay is spent on – and what their own taxes will be used for when they enter employment themselves – is a useful way to help them realise the significance of these decisions on their own lives.

“Getting the pupils thinking is the whole point of the debate, and we hope that listening to Professor Law and Dr Marron will help them write persuasive arguments when it comes to sitting their Higher Modern Studies exams.”

Before the debate got underway, 41 per cent agreed with the motion, 34 per cent disagreed and 24 per cent were undecided.

By the end, the percentage who agreed with the motion had risen to 50, 45 per cent disagreed and only four per cent were undecided.


For media enquiries please contact Kirsty Cameron T: 01382 308935 M: 07972172158 E:

Notes to Editors:

The schools invited to attended the debate were:

Baldragon Academy, Braeview Academy, Craigie High School, Grove Academy, Harris Academy, Menzieshill High School, Morgan Academy, St John's RC High School, and St Paul's RC Academy.

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