For those of you who don’t know, the Carnegie Club is the student-run organisation that aims to promote the values represented by their namesake, Andrew Carnegie, the Scottish-American philanthropist and businessman who served as Rector of St Andrews from 1901-1907.
The club’s motto is “Learn, Earn, Return” and part of adhering to these values is engaging in meaningful discourse on today’s pressing social, ethical and political issues. In that spirit, the first Ideas Conference took place this past Monday at the Old Course Hotel.
I was greeted by the committee, all dressed smartly for the occasion. I thought the room looked very nice and understated in a setting that could easily seem sanctimonious or ostentatious. Everything was simple but elegant; some water or champagne was offered, simple rows of chairs were arranged in front of a low stage and dim red lighting complimented the club’s colours nicely.
The guest speaker was Lord Jonathan Evans, former Director-General of MI5, who had made the journey to our small town to discuss the issue of national security. I was very impressed by the speaker and the organisation of the talk. Anyone who has ever been in a lecture (or just told to sit and listen) knows the familiar feeling of apprehension when they first take their seat. I’m very happy to report that I was not bored for a single moment. Lord Evans was engaging and informed. The topic discussed was a difficult one, and I was impressed with his professionalism and humility as he spoke of his work in counterterrorism. He insightfully explained to us the changing landscape of terrorism and national security efforts; the effect of technological advancements, how national security is a symptom of proper governance, and how one could not separate national security from international security.
Following Lord Evans’ address was a Q&A session with Carnegie Club member Connor Graham. Mr Graham came prepared with pertinent questions, inquiring on what challenges MI5 the most and the bridges found between the public sector of MI5 and the private one.
I was impressed with the professionalism and organisation of the Carnegie Club members. Far from heralding en era of gloom and doom, the event proved to be a compelling and refreshingly unpedantic discussion of a topic that is often sensationalised. Overall, an enriching way to spend an evening!