Students recreate coffee house debating culture

THE culture of coffee house debates - central to the 18th century Scottish Enlightenment - was recreated yesterday, as students discussed the role of young people in the democratic process.

The debate, held at the Palmerston Place branch of Starbucks in Edinburgh, was organised by the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) as part of its 250th anniversary.

Coffee houses were synonymous with original thinking in Britain and were important gathering places during the Renaissance and Reformation - and during the Scottish Enlightenment of the 1700s. The RSA itself was founded in a coffee house in London’s Covent Garden in March 1754 by William Shipley.

Yesterday’s debate was one of a series aimed at finding a solution to problems faced by future generations - including disinterest in politics.

Louise Macdonald, an RSA fellow and co-ordinator of the debate, said: "The coffee house has long been a site of discussion and we are excited about the prospect of generating tangible solutions regarding this issue [of declining interest in politics]."

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