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OpenLearn Live: 17th November 2015

Updated Tuesday 17th November 2015

The Monday meetings which brought down a state; and responses to the Paris attacks. Free learning from across the day.

OpenLearn Live uses free learning to make sense of your world. This page will be updated during the day; you can also follow us on Twitter.

Yesterday we ran a very light service, with just our first Monday

See the complete collection of OpenLearn Live


Today's posts


Paris: A short reading list

Following the horror of the attacks in Paris at the start of the weekend, here's three perspectives.

Claude Poissenot on how the target wasn't an ideology, but a lifestyle:

who we are.

The terrorists are not killing us because of the colour of our skin: the victims are all united by the blood they spilled. They are not fighting our religion. Though they may sometimes describe us as “crusaders”, some of the victims of the attacks in Paris were Muslims and a lot were non-believers.

Nor do their motives have the advantage of being linked to a political ideology: Islamic State (IS) works with “the market” when it comes to oil or weapons.

The role of social media in both the planning of, and the response to, the attacks:

IS utilises the service of Telegram channels because it is more difficult for security agencies to monitor and disrupt than other platforms such as Twitter or Facebook.

An important tool that agencies use to tackle violent extremism is that of counter-narratives. The aim here is address and challenge propaganda and misinformation being disseminated by IS to potential recruits or IS sympathisers.

This is used as a form of disruption to the flow of information and recruitment process. But with Telegrams – since information moves in one direction – it makes it harder to counter jihad propaganda and lies.

Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im suggests that Sharia Law might hold the key to defeating ISIS:

The key to understanding the role of Islam in politics is that there is no one authoritative entity that can establish or change Sharia doctrine for Muslims on any subject.

There is no equivalent of the Vatican and papal infallibility. How Sharia is interpreted by the many different communities of Muslims (from Sunni and Shia to Sufi and Salafi) is, at base, the product of an intergenerational consensus of the scholars and leaders of each community.

Islamic belief and practice is fundamentally individual and voluntary in its nature. A Muslim cannot be accountable for the views and actions of others.

One positive consequence of this absence of any one religious authority is the fact that it is possible to contest and reinterpret Sharia principles.

On the negative side, however, any Muslim can make any claim about Sharia if he or she can persuade a critical mass of Muslims to accept it.


Why should you care about mindfulness?

This week's All In The Mind from Radio 4 and The OU will be looking at the concept of mindfulness - and our academic experts Mathijs Lucassen and Jonathan Leach have created a 'what you need to know' guide to the concept:

When we heard that there was going to be a focus on mindfulness in an up-coming episode of the ‘All in the Mind’ series, as a team at the Open University we all started talking about times when we were unintentionally in a state of mindlessness, this happens for people who have used mindfulness therapeutically.  Hence we all need to remind ourselves about the value of mindfulness. 

A practical tip: Take a stroll outdoors, notice how plants and trees change with the season, the smells that meet your nose, how the temperature feels on your skin and savour being in that particular moment.  

See the full guide to Mindfulness


BBC Four, tonight, 10pm: Shock And Awe

Straight after the programme looking at our current electricity (pun intended, I'm very much afraid), we go back in time to where it all began, as Jim Al-Khalili tells the history of how humankind came to understand, and exploit, this force of nature.

Find out more about Shock And Awe

Try our spark it up game - can you power a toaster with eels?


BBC Four, tonight, 9pm: Power To The People

I think every listings magazine has done the "it's not a sequel to Citizen Smith" style gag, so I'll not; instead, just an introduction to this amazing and timely new series going behind the scenes of the UK's electricity infrastructure. Is the network able to cope with the demands we're throwing at it every day? Let's hope the power keeps running long enough this evening for us to find out...

Find out more about Power To The People


FutureLearn this week

It's not Monday, but there's still plenty of time to leap aboard the FutureLearn trains departing their station for this week. Here's the free learning on offer from their partners this week:


Monday week: The Monday Demonstrations

The week never begins round here; or at least, this week it doesn't, as we're starting up with a week of Mondays. Yesterday, we heard about the time PWC rebranded their consultancy business as Monday. Today, we're looking at the Monday Demonstrations.

Monday demonstration in Leipzig Creative commons image Icon German Federal Archives under CC-BY-SA licence under Creative-Commons license A post-wall-fall Monday Demonstration in Leipzig

The Monday Demonstations were gatherings in Leipzig - then in East Germany - which helped build the pressure for the fall of the Berlin Wall and, with it, the East German state.

They started in the St Nicholas' Church in 1989. Originally a loose mix of prayer meeting and information sharing, the gatherings attracted the attention of the Stasi. In September, the secret police attempted to break up one event, arresting and imprisoning many attendees. A blunt message was given to Pastors Christian Fuehrer and Christoph Wonneberger - call off the meetings, or expect the worst.

The Pastors chose to ignore the threat, and on October 9th, the meeting went ahead. To their delight, 8000 people turned out and, following an hour long service, the congregants were led our into the street on a march around the city. The police watched, but the protestors gave them no reason to intervene. When the Stasi tried to surround the crowd, they were repelled by chants of "No violence". And, at the key moment, the police stood aside to let the march continue through the streets. More protestors joined - estimates are between 70,000 and 100,000 - making it an unprecedented protest in the history of East Germany.

Over the coming weeks, the numbers would grow, and a month to the day after that march, crowds in Berlin tore the Wall down. While the fall of the Wall is an iconic moment, the moment on a crisp autumn Monday evening in Leipzig when the police stepped aside is, for many, when the East German state started to crumble.

See our 'Great Fall' collection on the Berlin Wall

How The Cold War shaped The Open University

 

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