The Great War Debate

This series will feature recordings of The Great War Debate, a national centenary initiative for A Level students, supported by DfE and DCMS. This series of debates is visiting locations all over the UK and here you can listen to each one to discover insights from leading historians and academics as they debate the causes, events and consequences of the First World War. Abridged versions of the debates can also be found in the relevant sections of the podcast section of the website.

Dates and details for future debates can be found here

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Great War Debates

The Great War Debate - Europe and the outbreak of war in 1914

Listen to The Great War Debate with Sir Hew Strachan, Dr Annika Mombauer, Professor John Horne and Tara Finn from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, as they explore whether Europe accidentally stumbled into war in 1914. This debate was recorded at the Imperial War Museum, London in September 2016.

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The Great War Debate - Did Europe willingly go to war in 1914?

Listen to The Great War Debate with Prof. Dominic Sandbrook, Dr. Catriona Pennell, Prof. Thomas Weber and Dr. Ingrid Sharp, as they consider whether ordinary Europeans went willingly to war in 1914. This debate was recorded at Leicester Town Hall in October 2016.

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The Great War Debate - The true face of war (what motivated soldiers?)

Listen as experts delve into the true face of battle at The Great War Debate in Edinburgh. Chaired by BBC Newsnight’s Mark Urban, panellists Prof Stephen Badsey, Dr Will Butler, Dr Emmanuelle Cronier and Taff Gillingham discuss the real motivators for soldiers to fight in the First World War. The debate was recorded at the National Museum of Scotland in February 2017.

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The Great War Debate - Haig and the Somme

Listen to The Great War Debate’s lively discussion about Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig’s reputation in full, with insights from Professor Gary Sheffield, Professor Robin Prior, Professor Stephen Badsey and Dr Elizabeth Greenhalgh. The debate was recorded in Manchester in June 2016.

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The Great War Debate - Britain, France and the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East

Find out more about the war between Britain, France and the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East in this recording from The Great War Debate in Newcastle, featuring insights from Dr David Omissi, Prof Rob Johnson and Dr Emma Short, alongside BBC Newsnight’s Mark Urban. The debate was recorded at Discovery Museum in Newcastle in January 2017.

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The Great War Debate - The strategic role of the war at sea

Students gathered together in Leeds to discuss naval warfare during the First World War. Panellists Prof Holger Afflerbach, naval historian Mark Vesey and military historian Dan Hill spoke about the strategic role the battle at sea played and, in particular, the impact on Scarborough following the naval attacks. The debate was recorded at Leeds City Academy in March 2017.

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The Great War Debate - War on the Eastern Front

Discover more about war on the Eastern Front with this recording of The Great War Debate in Barry. Listen as panellists including military historians Dan Hill and Taff Gillingham, alongside Cardiff University’s Dr James Ryan and Dr Gerwin Strobl, explore the link between German and Russian plans in Poland, the Baltic and Ukraine in 1914-18 and the later horrors of the twentieth century. The debate was recorded at The Memo Arts Centre in December 2016.

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The Great War Debate – The social impact of the First World War (London edition)

Listen to this Great War Debate to discover the extent to which the First World War was an essential catalyst for social change from historians including Professor Alison Fell (Leeds), Professor John Horne (Trinity), Dr Naomi Paxton (writer and performer) and Charlotte Czyzyk (Imperial War Museums). Chaired by BBC Newsnight’s Mark Urban, the event was recorded at Graveney High School in London on 1st November 2017.

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The Great War Debate - The social impact of the First World War (Bath edition)

Discover the ways in which the Great War influenced societal change, as Catherine Long (Imperial War Museum), Matt Leonard (conflict archaeologist), Emma Hanna (Kent) and Toby Thacker (Cardiff) debate to what extent society benefitted from WW1. Chaired by BBC Newsnight’s Mark Urban, the event was recorded at Hayesfield School for Girls in Bath on 22nd February 2018.

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The Great War Debate – The social impact of the First World War (Cambridge edition)

Learn how the Great War impacted society, as Deborah Thom (Cambridge), Alexander Watson (Goldsmiths), Naomi Paxton (writer and performer) and Richard Grayson (Goldsmiths) discuss the war’s lasting effects, the difficulty soldiers faced when returning home and whether women’s progress was helped or hindered by war. Chaired by BBC Newsnight’s Mark Urban, the event was recorded at Chesterton Community College in Cambridge on 7th March 2018.

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The Great War Debate – The social impact of the First World War (Brighton edition)

Listen to this Great War Debate to hear historians Dr Lucy Noakes (Essex), Catherine Long (Imperial War Museums), Elisabeth Shipton (author) and Dr Chris Kempshall (Sussex) discuss how the First World War shaped society, covering themes such as the role of women, medical advances and imperialism. Chaired by BBC Newsnight’s Mark Urban, the event was recorded at BHASVIC in Brighton on 22nd November 2017.

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The Great War Debate - The changing role of women

Exeter’s Great War Debate questions whether the First World War was an essential catalyst for female emancipation. Exploring the new roles women adopted during the Great War, panellists including Prof Alison Fell, writer Elisabeth Shipton and military historian Dan Hill consider the extent to which women’s new rights and social standing survived the war. The debate was recorded at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in February 2017.

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The Great War Debate – The First World War and medicine

Listen to this Great War Debate to find out more about how the First World War shaped modern medicine, with insights from Dr Jack Davies (Science Museum), Louise Bell (National Archives) and Dr Jessica Meyer (Leeds). Chaired by TV presenter and historian David Olusoga, the event was recorded at Bramhall High School in Stockport on 12th October 2017.

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The Great War Debate - Impact of the First World War on non-European peoples

Listen to this podcast for highlights from The Great War Debate in Brighton, featuring insights from Dr Catriona Pennell, Dr David Omissi, Professor Mark Connelly and Dr Santanu Das, alongside Newsnight’s Mark Urban. Hear panellists discuss the non-European peoples who took part in the First World War and the impact of this on Africa, India, North America and Australasia. This debate was recorded in Brighton in November 2016.

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The Great War Debate - Impact of the First World War on Ireland

Download the full recording of The Great War Debate in Bangor, featuring Professor Senia Paseta, Professor Richard Grayson and Philip Orr discussing the impact of the First World War on Ireland. The debate was recorded at Clandeboye Estate in November 2016.

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The Great War Debate - Impact of the war on everyday life in Britain

Students from around Cambridge came to listen to a lively discussion around security, liberty and censorship during the First World War, looking at how the war impacted on the everyday lives of British people. Offering their expertise were Prof Alexander Watson, Prof Stephen Badsey and Dr Matt Leonard, alongside BBC Newsnight’s Mark Urban. The debate was recorded at Churchill College, University of Cambridge in February 2017.

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The Great War Debate - Peace Treaties and their effectiveness

Prof David Stevenson, Dr Tomas Irish, Dr Ingrid Sharp and Dr Pierre Purseigle gathered together for The Great War Debate in Birmingham to discuss post-war peace treaties and their effectiveness at keeping the peace after 1918. The debate was recorded at Birmingham Council House in March 2017.

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The Great War Debate – Remembering the Great War

Listen to Charlotte Czyzyk (Imperial War Museum), Dónal Hassett (Bristol), Chris Kempshall (Sussex) and Maggie Andrews (Worcester) discuss how we remember the Great War and its changing reputation over time. Chaired by TV news presenter John Young, the event was recorded at John Henry Newman Catholic College in Birmingham on 9th February 2018.

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