Gary Rycroft column

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The idea of a university college being established in Lancaster was first mooted back in 1947, promptly lapsed due to lack of government funding and was then revived in the early 1960’s as the number of young people entering higher education began to take off.

It was on November 23, 1961 that the announcement was made in Parliament that the new University of Lancaster would be set up.

Probably the first native Lancastrian to hear the news was a young reporter on this newspaper, the late Bill Crayston (who was later the Editor) receiving word from Parliament by long distance telephone. Only just over 50 years ago yet a world away from how we live today with instant communication and social media flashing news around the globe in an instant.

And what an incredible piece of good fortune it has been to have the University of Lancaster in our midst in the years since it’s Royal Charter was granted and it opened it’s doors in 1964.

So as we celebrate 50 years of the University of Lancaster this year one of many events happening is a conference next Wednesday (May 7) organised by Lancaster TEDx. This is a franchise from the US from where TED Talks about ‘ideas worth spreading’ have become a global phenomenon. TED stands for technology, entertainment and design.

And for devotees TED Talks there is no better way to spend 20 minutes than downloading a talk and learning something new about our world. Past speakers include Bill Gates, JK Rowling, Al Gore and Jamie Oliver dealing with matters of dire global importance to light hearted comedy.

The Lancaster Conference Speakers next week look just as eclectic, with for example Bill Davies tackling ‘Food Insecurity’ and Jenny Natusch sharing ‘How a grain of sand changed my life’, to name just two.

The theme for Lancaster TEDx 2014 is ‘Towards Pangaea’, pangaea being the supercontinent which existed on the earth until around 100million years ago and the idea to be explored is that because of technological and social advances we have never been closer to each other globally. Something quite fanciful back in 1961, but maybe not so now.