By: Manuel Concepción, Social Forum Coordinator, Debate Club in Segovia. 

For a successful academic experience as students, we should be open-minded about new ideas and perspectives. This show of intellectual humility is essential to get past the notion of knowing to the field of understanding. The meetings of the Social Forum Branch of the Debate Club in Segovia allow students coming from different backgrounds and degrees to contrast their ideas and experiences.

Before I continue, I shall introduce myself. My name is Manuel Concepción, I am studying the double degree in Politics, Law and Economics + Data Analytics. I lead this Branch of the Debate Club due to a deep love for knowledge and discussion – I once vehemently defended Mongolian Customary Law as the correct law to be applied to unlawful combatants in war – but in the end, that is what the Social Forum is about: flexibility.

In our meetings, you can find a platform for sharing your ideas and listening to your peers in an open discussion. You will find feedback, well-rounded critiques, and opportunities to deepen your understanding through literature you may not have encountered before. Mark my words: if participation were not free, you would get a moneyback guarantee if you did not learn something new every meeting.

The idea of the club comes from an intellectual tradition that has its roots in the Enlightenment and saw great application during the late 19th Century: the tertulia. This Spanish word conceptualizes a differentiated form of social gathering centred on discussion, which was very present in the cafés of Madrid, Paris, and Vienna. Of course, as students we can only hope to reach the intellectual expertise of those before us – but trying is a good exercise by itself.

In our tertulias, we try to establish a sense of continuity in our discussions; there is only so much that can be properly discussed in a few hours. This continuity forms part of the learning environment we try to create through discussion, and as such it allows students to deepen their understanding about certain topics and broaden their view about society.

Before the pandemic, we used to meet in La Colonial, a café right in the heart of Segovia. Current restrictions do not allow for conducting our meetings physically anymore, but as much as the aesthetic is missed, the principles behind our branch remain solid.

Do you wish to share that idea about urban planning you have had in your head for the last weeks? Maybe get some feedback on the reasoning behind an essay you’re writing? Or perhaps you have a strong opinion on a current event that you want to share? In our tertulias, you will find a space to learn and share. So, grab a coffee or a cup of tea and join us every Friday afternoon in the Social Forum.


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Editorial Note: The image featured is the painting La Tertulia del Café Pombo, by Gutiérrez Solana.

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