Summer School 2020: Ten Years of the Autonomy Project
The 2020 Autonomy Project Summer School was held online on the 20th-24th July. Many thanks to those who participated. Please sign up to our mailing list at the bottom of this page (remembering to tick the box to receive emails) if you would like to be notified of future events.
Download the programme and further details here: Summer School Information
About the Autonomy Project
The Essex Autonomy Project is a research and public policy initiative, based at the University of Essex, and investigating the ideal of self-determination (autonomy) in the context of care (health care, social care, eldercare, psychiatric care, etc.). Led by Professor of Philosophy, Wayne Martin, it involves extensive intramural and extramural collaboration with jurists, clinicians, service users, activists, civil servants, and policy makers. It is affiliated with the Wellcome-funded Mental Health and Justice project and the award-winning Essex Human Rights Centre.
About the Summer School
The Autonomy Project Summer School is an annual event, held each July, which brings together a group of researchers, activists, students, clinicians, social workers, service-users, and public officials in order to work together on the challenges of embedding respect for autonomy and human rights in the practices of care.
This year, the Summer School took place across 5 days from the 20th to the 24th July, with sessions running for 2 hours each day, and optional additional sessions to facilitate discussion. It combined keynote addresses, panel discussions, and work on case study materials.
Ten Years of the Autonomy Project
2020 marks the tenth anniversary of the Autonomy Project. To mark the occasion, we welcomed back a number of veterans of past Autonomy Project Summer Schools. One alumnus of the very first iteration of the Summer School was recently elected to Parliament as the MP for Runnymede and Weybridge. He returned to help us think about strategies for law reform, particularly about the prospects and obstacles for so-called “Fusion Law” — the legislative approach which synthesises the Mental Health Act and Mental Capacity Act. Another alum is the founder of SDM-Japan, and will be part of a panel that provides an update on international efforts to establish programmes of Supported Decision-Making (SDM) — a strategy for achieving compliance with the United Nations Convention of The Rights of Persons with Disabilities. As always, we also did some philosophy. We had a session on personal identity in the context of care, another on the idea of respect for the will, and a third in which we explored the phenomenon known as juridification — the process whereby human practices (including care practices) are increasingly subject to strict legal rules and regulations. We concluded with an update on the most recent EAP research findings, including a preview of findings from our pioneering study of clinical decision-making, insight, and human rights.
(MP for Runnymede and Weybridge)
Ben worked as a Psychiatrist in the NHS for 10 years, before being elected to Parliament in 2019 as MP for Runnymede and Weybridge. He was an NIHR Doctoral Research Fellow at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IoPPN), Kings College London, where he wrote his dissertation on capacity for consent to participate in research. He also has particular expertise in old-age psychiatry and insight. His current interests include the prospects for fusing the Mental Health Act and the Mental Capacity Act.
(Japan Legal Support Centre)
Toshihiko (‘Toshi’) is a practicing attorney and advocate in Japan with expertise on human-rights and disability and the Japanese Adult Guardians Law. In 2017, he established the Japan Network of Supported Decision-Making (SDM-Japan) supported by University of Tsukuba and the Nippon Foundation. Since 2018, he has been working closely with the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW), the Japanese Law Society (JFBA), and the national expert committee covering issues of adult guardianship in Japan, developing national guidelines on supported decision-making.
(St Helena Hospice)
Karen is a General Practitioner and is also the Deputy CEO and Clinical Director at St Helena Hospice.
Karen is the clinical lead for end of life care for the North East Essex Health and Wellbeing Alliance and as part of this role is the clinical lead for the My Care Choices register, a local electronic palliative care co-ordination system. Since 2018 Karen has been working with the Oxford Centre for Triple Value Healthcare establishing a population based approach to end of life care.
(Mental Health and Justice Project)
Tania is a Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow with the Mental Health and Justice research project, where her work focuses on advance directives in bipolar disorder, as well as working with the McPin Foundation to coordinate patient and public involvement. Although Tania’s academic background was in ancient philosophy, her research now focuses on mental health, ethics and law / philosophy of medicine, with areas of interest including: advance decision-making and decision making-capacity; the ethics of coercion and leverage within psychiatry; personal identity and mental disorder; and stigma.
George Szmukler (Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, Kings College London)
George is a Psychiatrist and Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at the IoPPN, Kings College London. His research focuses on strategies for reducing compulsion and coercion in psychiatric care. A key interest is mental health law reform, particularly the development of non-discriminatory, generic legislation which would apply to all persons, regardless of the cause of the underlying disturbance of treatment decision-making. Past posts have included Dean of the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London (2001-2006); Medical Director of the Bethlem and Maudsley NHS Trust (1997-1999), then joint Medical Director of the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust (1999-2001); Visiting Professor in the Department of Sociology at the London School of Economics (2005-2014); Associate Director of the NIHR Mental Health Research Network, with lead responsibility for Patient and Public Involvement in research (2007-2015). His most recent book, Men in White Coats, discusses involuntary treatment in the context of human rights.
Alex Ruck Keene
(39 Essex Chambers)
Alex is an experienced barrister, writer and educator. His practice is focused on mental capacity law (broadly defined) in which he is able to provide specialist advice and representation. He also writes extensively in the field, editing and contributing to leading textbooks and (amongst many other publications) the 39 Essex Chambers Mental Capacity Law Newsletter, the ‘bible’ for solicitors (and others) working in the area. Alex is a Visiting Lecturer and Wellcome Trust Research Fellow at Kings College London. He served as consultant to the Law Commission in their review of the deprivation of liberty safeguards and as legal counsel to the Wessely Review of the Mental Health Act.
(Cologne University of Applied Sciences)
Dagmar is Professor of Civil Law, specialising in Family Law, and is based in the Faculty of Applied Social Sciences at Cologne University of Applied Sciences. Her research is focused on autonomy and self-determination in adult protection law. Dagmar is the author of various articles and reports focusing on issues concerning self-determination, supported decision-making, legal capacity, advance directives and legal representation in the context of the German Law of Betreuung, mental health care and long-term care. She is also a board member at the German Association for Betreuung, and the editor-in-chief of the Journal of German Law of Betreuung and Practice. From 2015 to 2017, she was one of the heads of the research team which conducted the study ‘Quality in Court Appointed Legal Representation’, commissioned by the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection. In 2018, the results of this study prompted a reform process entitled ‘Self-Determination and Quality in the Law of Betreuung’.
(Essex Autonomy Project)
Wayne is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Essex, where he is a member of the Essex Human Rights Centre and Director of the Essex Autonomy Project, a research and public policy initiative focusing on the ideal of self-determination (autonomy) in the context of care (health care, social care, eldercare, psychiatric care, etc.). He also holds an honorary research position with the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust. He is the author of numerous research articles and reports focusing on issues concerning decision-making and mental capacity in the context of mental health care, and has been involved in policy formation both in the UK and abroad. From 2014-16 he led a team that supported the UK Ministry of Justice in preparation for the review by the United Nations of UK compliance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In 2018 he served on the Equality and Human Rights topic group for the Wessely Review of the Mental Health Act.