Critical Conversations: Open Forum

A Future for Commonwealth Studies?

Jump to Guests
Dani Sinha
David Salmon
Danish Ali Bhutto
Caryn Thandi Petersen
Dr Rashmi Gokhale
Date & Time
2:00pm, 18 May 2021 - 3:30pm, 18 May 2021
About the event

‘Commonwealth Studies’ is the study of the Commonwealth’s history, institutions, Member States and people.

The only academic institute in the world dedicated to Commonwealth Studies is under review—raising questions about the future of this work.

This Critical Conversation—an Open Forum—will bring together leading voices from academia, policy and civil society to contribute to the debate on the Future of Commonwealth Studies.

The Forum gives you a chance to influence the direction of future research associated with the Commonwealth alongside fellow audience members and experts guests. Together you will explore answers to questions such as:

  • How can the study of the Commonwealth help it fulfil its potential?
  • What issues could Commonwealth Studies investigate to assist the people of the Commonwealth in their daily lives?
  • What form would a specialist Commonwealth Studies think tank take? How could it be designed to effectively generate and disperse useful knowledge across the Commonwealth? Could it contribute to holding the Commonwealth—its Member States and its institutions—to account for promises made in the Commonwealth Charter?

Delivered in partnership with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and The Association of Commonwealth Universities, this Open Forum presents a chance to voice your views on the usefulness of Commonwealth Studies and shape the form it takes into the future. 

Registration is free

We are looking for participants with diverse perspectives and identities from across the Commonwealth’s five regions—from students to Members of Parliament hailing anywhere from the African continent to the Pacific islands.

Joining any Critical Conversation event connects you with a community of Commonwealth citizens asking the questions that matter most to the Commonwealth; its past and its future. You can register below.

This event has taken place. You can watch it here:

What shape will the Open Forum take?

Each of several interventions made by guest speakers will be followed by Q&A sessions between the panellists and our audiences. Surveys will be sent to participants following the event to capture maximum viewpoint diversity over a range of questions pertinent to Commonwealth Studies. The outcomes of the Forum will feed into the Committee on the Future of Commonwealth Studies‘ final report.

It’s free to participate in this forum and make your voice heard.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this page stated, incorrectly, that the Institute of Commonwealth Studies ‘is closing’. In fact, the Institute is currently under review and its future remains uncertain. Sorry.

Dani Sinha Moderator
David Salmon Panellist
Danish Ali Bhutto Panellist
Caryn Thandi Petersen Panellist
Dr Rashmi Gokhale Panellist
Dani Sinha

Dani has been a presenter at ITN’s 5 News for several years after a long stint at the BBC. She was one of the main presenters during lockdown during the pandemic and has covered other big moments such as Brexit and the Extinction Rebellion protests. She is just as comfortable grilling top ministers as she is talking to celebrities such as Sir Lenny Henry, Maureen Lipman and David Essex right through to hosting special programmes such as climate change, Life After Care and Brexit: What Next.

Before this, Dani could be seen and heard on various BBC outputs, including BBC World News covering big moments such as the Paris terror attack, Grexit, the missing plane MH370 and the annexation of Ukraine. She was also a regular business presenter covering the markets on the News Channel.

She is mixed race herself and hails from Liverpool. She is keen to explore the way we talk about race and how old classifications need to give way to more pertinent voices.

David Salmon

David Salmon is a journalist and political commentator who focusses on public policy issues within Jamaica and the Caribbean. He served as Prime Minister for the National Youth Parliament of Jamaica in 2020, where he represented the constituency of St. Andrew Eastern. He also served as the Opposition Spokesperson for Health in the 9th staging of the Commonwealth Youth Parliament in the same year. He is currently a student at the University of the West Indies and a member of the board for Jamaica’s Early Childhood Commission.

Danish Ali Bhutto

Danish Ali Bhutto is an Assistant Director at the National Assembly of Pakistan. He manages projects and civic engagement. A Humphrey international fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, he was selected among the British Council’s 50 global future leaders in 2018 and the Emerging Leaders of Pakistan by the US Dept. of State in 2015. He is a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of The Parliamentarian and a member of the 8th Commonwealth Youth Parliament. He studied Policy and Leadership at University of Cambridge, and an MBA at Sukkur IBA as Sindh Talent Hunt Scholar. He has represented Pakistan on various public and parliamentary forums.

Caryn Thandi Petersen

Caryn Thandi Petersen is a Commonwealth Scholar from South Africa, currently completing her PhD at the University of Warwick in Sociology (Women and Gender). Her research focuses on the impacts and implications of decolonial activism on higher education in South Africa and the UK. She is interested in intersectional movements seeking to address colonial legacies and redress the politics of knowledge production. As a member of the Peace and Reconciliation Network with the ACU, Caryn Thandi aims to contribute to broader discussions on institutional reform through transformative justice initiatives. Along with her academic research, she is a features writer and performer with a background in the arts.

Dr Rashmi Gokhale

Dr Rashmi Gokhale is an Indian student of International Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law (IAWEL) by distance learning at the University of Edinburgh, and a 2019 Commonwealth Scholar. A veterinarian by profession, she is currently working at an Indian animal charity as a Manager. She has treated a range of wild, companion, captive and farm animals during the early stages of her career. An ailing sloth bear suffering from tuberculosis lit her interest in studying the quality of life in animals; from there, a progressive journey towards learning and working for animal welfare started. Her aim is to improve standards of animal welfare in India at the policy level through her IAWEL studies.

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Event Partners
The Association of Commonwealth Universities

The Association of Commonwealth Universities is an international organisation dedicated to building a better world through higher education. They believe that international collaboration is central to this ambition. By bringing universities together from around the world – and crucially the people who study and work within them ‒ they help to advance knowledge, promote understanding, broaden minds, and improve lives. They champion higher education as a cornerstone of stronger societies, supporting our members, partners, and stakeholders as they adapt to a changing world.

Commonwealth Parliamentary Association

The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) brings together Members who are united by community of interest, respect for the rule of law and individual rights and freedoms, and by the pursuit of the positive ideals of parliamentary democracy. The Association is made up of over 180 legislatures (or Branches) divided up between nine geographic regions of the Commonwealth. It offers a vast opportunity for Parliamentarians and parliamentary staff to collaborate on issues of mutual interest and to share good practice. It's mission is 'to promote knowledge of the constitutional, legislative, economic, social and cultural aspects of parliamentary democracy, with particular reference to the countries of the Commonwealth.'

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We support people's participation in democracy and development by providing grants, platforms, and expertise.

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