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Preview: Big Ideas

Big Ideas - Full program podcast

ABC Radio National presents material from Big Ideas web and TV to bring you the best public talks, debates and lectures from Australia and around the world. One single audio file of the whole program - good for continuous listening.

Copyright: Copyright 2016, Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

Electric Planet

Thu, 08 Dec 2016 20:05:00 +1100

Do we need a more rational approach to electricity generation in Australia?

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Increasing our power over life

Wed, 07 Dec 2016 20:05:00 +1100

Scientists can make you healthier and live longer by manipulating your genes. But they can also make the next generation stronger, taller, slimmer or smarter. How should we use the power we have over genes and life?

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Privacy: an IQ debate

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 20:05:00 +1100

Technology now allows parents to look at their children's call history, texts and internet use. Is this undermining and unfairly inhibiting young people? Should privacy really be for adults only?

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The changing face of Australian immigration

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 20:05:00 +1100

Gradual, but significant, change is occurring to Australia's immigration intake. More migrants are being granted temporary visas. Currently there is in excess of one million migrants living here temporarily, on visas such as the 457 skilled worker visa.  It is getting harder to secure permanent residency. Author and researcher, Peter Mares, says temporary migrants often live in Australia for many years, work, pay their taxes, and abide by the law. Yet they have no say in our democracy. "Not quite Australian", is how he describes them.  How is temporary migration changing Australia?

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Human rights and everyday virtues

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 20:05:00 +1100

To make human rights useful for everyday life, we need to change the language from ‘rights’ to ‘gifting’.

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The Elgin Marbles

Wed, 30 Nov 2016 20:05:00 +1100

Should the Parthenon Marbles be returned to Greece? A Mini Moot to mark 200 years since the British Museum purchased the marbles from Lord Elgin.

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European innovation and Europe's place in the world

Tue, 29 Nov 2016 20:05:00 +1100

Looking at Europe: with young eyes - and behind the scenes at CERN

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Oz music thriving in an era of digital disruption

Mon, 28 Nov 2016 20:05:00 +1100

At a time when music fans can choose from more 20 million songs on Spotify, and the like, Australian artists are making themselves heard around the globe. Australian acts were nominated for several Grammy Awards this year and singer/songwriter, Dami Im, was runner up in Eurovision song contest. The cultural value of popular music is impossible to measure, but the Australian music industry is seeking to quantify its contribution to the economy.  In this conversation, five music industry players talk to Paul Barclay about everything from digital disruption, and sexism in the industry, to why playlists may be the new radio. 

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Putin's Russia

Thu, 24 Nov 2016 20:05:00 +1100

Twenty five years of cold peace Can the western community of nations reinvent itself to accommodate Russia?

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Do we expect too much from governments?

Wed, 23 Nov 2016 20:05:00 +1100

Laura Tingle explains how People’s disillusion with politics is mainly a question of perception. 

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The 2016 Reith Lectures

Tue, 22 Nov 2016 20:05:00 +1100

Mistaken Identities: Episode 4 Culture The history of the idea of culture - from its roots at the the time of the Crusades to its modern incarnation in the second half of the 20th century.

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The battle of Passchendaele: did hundreds of thousands die in vain?

Mon, 21 Nov 2016 20:05:00 +1100

2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the Battle for Passchendaele, on the Western Front. It was one of the bloodiest battles of the First World War, resulting in tens of thousands of Australian casualties – more than at Gallipoli.  But Passchendaele was not a military blunder. The carnage was intentional. It was a part of the plan, author, Paul Ham, tells Paul Barclay.

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Are we facing the new 1930s?

Thu, 17 Nov 2016 20:05:00 +1100

Are current populist movements across Europe and Asia reminiscent of the state of affairs in the decade preceding World War II?

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Dying Re-imagined

Wed, 16 Nov 2016 20:05:00 +1100

Redesigning palliative care to bring compassion and imagination to the care of the dying

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The 2016 Reith Lectures

Tue, 15 Nov 2016 20:05:00 +1100

Mistaken Identities: Episode 3 Colour Professor Appiah explores and illustrates a series of mistaken ideas, including that there is a "racial essence" which all members of a race carry.

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Tackling domestic violence - what progress has been made?

Mon, 14 Nov 2016 20:05:00 +1100

How far have we come in tackling domestic violence?

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A political economy of space and place

Thu, 10 Nov 2016 20:05:00 +1100

Under capitalism, the state also organises the space we live in, the streets we walk and the places we meet.

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Global corruption

Wed, 09 Nov 2016 20:05:00 +1100

Australia is ‘the Cayman Islands of the South Pacific' - a safe haven for money coming into the country through international corruption.

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The 2016 Reith Lectures

Tue, 08 Nov 2016 20:05:00 +1100

Mistaken Identities: Episode 2 Country

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Affordable housing

Mon, 07 Nov 2016 20:05:00 +1100

There is a scarcity of affordable rental accommodation in Australia.

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100-Year Life

Thu, 03 Nov 2016 20:05:00 +1100

Many of us will live into our 80s, 90s and even to 100. Can we work longer?

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How to respond to the antibiotics crisis

Wed, 02 Nov 2016 20:05:00 +1100

Antibiotic resistance is a bigger threat to the world than terrorism.

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The 2016 Reith Lectures

Tue, 01 Nov 2016 20:05:00 +1100

Philosopher and cultural theorist Kwame Anthony Appiah argues that when considering religion we overestimate the importance of scripture and underestimate the importance of practice.

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Lois and Juris Greste on Freeing Peter

Mon, 31 Oct 2016 20:05:00 +1100

Lois and Juris Greste discuss the long road to freeing their son, Peter, from a Cairo prison.

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Muslim Feminism

Thu, 27 Oct 2016 20:05:00 +1100

How are Muslim women fighting sexism and working for change?

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Understanding the mind of a compulsive hoarder

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 20:05:00 +1100

Randy Frost explains the meaning possessions play in our lives and how and why this can go astray.

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Can the refugee narrative be shifted?

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 20:05:00 +1100

How does the language and rhetoric used in the refugee discourse affect policy and perceptions

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Clementine Ford: feminist warrior

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 20:05:00 +1100

The internet and social media has helped to spawn a new generation of feminism. At the forefront of this, in Australia, is Clementine Ford. She is a fearless feminist with a ‘take no prisoners’ attitude. She fights back against online misogyny and abuse, making the trolls accountable for what they post, even if it costs them their job. Clementine Ford talks to Paul Barclay about her book, “Fight Like A Girl”, part memoir, part personal manifesto.

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The Cranlana Programme: Medicine and society

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 20:05:00 +1100

There’s evidence to suggest that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander health sector is treated differently to mainstream services. Why does this happen and how can government and policy makers change this treatment?

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Tim Fischer: World Trade Disconnect

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 20:05:00 +1100

Rebranding and revamping before renewed protectionism destroys all

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Eco-tourism: Green or greenwash?

Tue, 18 Oct 2016 20:05:00 +1100

So the demand for authentic and sustainable leisure experiences has never been higher. But how green is eco-tourism really?

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Big Ideas 17 October 2016

Mon, 17 Oct 2016 20:05:00 +1100

Opinions are a dime a dozen. Everyone has one and plenty of people share them on Twitter, Facebook, or on online comments pages. Is all this opinion enhancing democracy or hindering real debate? Also, commentator and economic historian, Niall Ferguson, reflects on the importance of history and how it can be applied to the present, and the state of the global economy.

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Books for better policy

Thu, 13 Oct 2016 20:05:00 +1100

Can literature influence political judgement? What does Barack Obama's summer reading list reveal?

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Science of life and death: Murder

Wed, 12 Oct 2016 20:05:00 +1100

Venom, poison and a peek into the mind of murderers. What drive us to killing other people?

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You will be hacked

Tue, 11 Oct 2016 20:05:00 +1100

The internet has provided motive, means and opportunity for hackers.

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How immigration shaped Australia

Mon, 10 Oct 2016 20:05:00 +1100

A panel of guests explores the impact of post war immigration on Australia

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Revising Australian History

Thu, 06 Oct 2016 20:05:00 +1100

The historical representation of pre-colonial indigenous life. Is the widely taught perspective as accurate as we think?

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The Middle Ages now

Wed, 05 Oct 2016 20:05:00 +1100

The ignorance, superstition and barbarism of the medieval era is reassessed.

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Threatened species

Tue, 04 Oct 2016 20:05:00 +1100

If there was an Ark for Australia's most endangered species, what animals and plants would get a berth?

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America in a time of Trump and Clinton

Mon, 03 Oct 2016 20:05:00 +1100

America is a fractured and fearful place, says Don Watson

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Charles Taylor on secularism and multiculturalism

Thu, 29 Sep 2016 20:05:00 +1000

Charles Taylor explains how a flawed understanding of secularism has produced a backlash against multicultural policies and religious minorities

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The 2016 Boyer Lectures

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 20:05:00 +1000

The first two Boyer lectures look at the social determinants of health: the conditions in which people are born, grow, live and work; and inequities in power and resources

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Biohacking: Why Should We Care?

Tue, 27 Sep 2016 20:05:00 +1000

Ink from bacteria and vegan cheese from casein genes. Are DIY biological labs something we should be worried about?

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Queensland’s Native Police: did they commit genocide?

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 20:05:00 +1000

Australian history is replete with instances of frontier violence. But the establishment and operation of the Native Police, which was responsible for the brutal killing of thousands of indigenous men, women and children, is a particularly chilling example of this. Some believe they committed genocide. 2016 marks the 150h anniversary of the gazettal of regulations, in Queensland, that imposed a "duty" on armed Native Police officers to “disperse" any "large assembly of blacks without unnecessary violence”.  Paul Barclay speaks to a historian, a legal academic and an indigenous activist about this shameful chapter in the nation's past. What can be done to right the wrongs of history 

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Borders and boundaries

Thu, 22 Sep 2016 20:05:00 +1000

Love and attachment, nature and the human body - How are the boundaries changing ?

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The 2016 Boyer Lectures

Wed, 21 Sep 2016 20:05:00 +1000

The first two Boyer lectures look at the social determinants of health: the conditions in which people are born, grow, live and work; and inequities in power and resources

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History of human evolution

Tue, 20 Sep 2016 20:05:00 +1000

How can we know how many species preceded our own? Can we tell which of those species are our ancestors, and which are non-ancestral close relatives?

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Lionel Shriver on free speech, identity and the future of the US.

Mon, 19 Sep 2016 20:05:00 +1000

In the future United States of Lionel Shriver’s imagination, the nation is virtually bankrupt by the year 2029. The US dollar is worthless. Gold is confiscated by the government. A cabbage costs more than 20 dollars. This is the dystopian future she presents in her speculative novel, "The Mandibles". Lionel Shriver recently delivered a provocative speech at the Brisbane Writers Festival, ridiculing the concept of cultural appropriation. In this wide ranging conversation, she talks to Paul Barclay about free speech, identity, the future of America and how it’s governed, as well as Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton.

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Boomers owe a debt to the young: an IQ debate

Thu, 15 Sep 2016 20:05:00 +1000

Is the wealthiest Australian demographic of all time impoverishing today's youth: an intelligence squared debate

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The psychology of money

Wed, 14 Sep 2016 20:05:00 +1000

It can make us do strange things but can money really make us happier?

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Keating and China

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 20:05:00 +1000

The China policies of former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating - in conversation with Kerry O'Brien.

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Can Islamic State be defeated?

Mon, 12 Sep 2016 20:05:00 +1000

Recent attacks by the terrorist group, Islamic State, in France, Germany, Turkey, and the Middle East, is, understandably, fuelling community concern about the threat posed by violent extremism. How much of a threat is IS?  How much do we know about them? And is the West responding appropriately? Paul Barclay sought answers to these questions, and more, from a panel of experts.

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Does Starbucks pay enough tax?

Thu, 08 Sep 2016 20:05:00 +1000

Rather than trying to tax corporate profits at the location where value is created, we should tax this income at the destination of sales.

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The age of distraction

Wed, 07 Sep 2016 20:05:00 +1000

The philosopher mechanic Matthew Crawford sees a world which is not only getting nosier but more and more distracting to the extent that we’re now experiencing a crisis of attention.

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P.W Singer discusses the future of war and his latest book Ghost fleet.

Tue, 06 Sep 2016 20:05:00 +1000

P.W Singer outlines the ideas and premise of his latest book Ghost fleet: a novel of the next world war. It’s his first work of fiction but unlike many of the racy airport thrillers in the genre, Singer weighs in as a highly respected strategist, international relations scholar and 21st century warfare specialist.

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The serious side of Magda Szubanski

Mon, 05 Sep 2016 20:05:00 +1000

Magda Szubanski has been making us laugh for years, but she is also an intelligent and serious woman.

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Hindsight Conference: The evolution of terrorism from Al Qaeda to ISIS

Thu, 01 Sep 2016 20:05:00 +1000

What's the best way to address terrorism? And how can we tackle its root causes?

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What should development in Northern Australia look like?

Wed, 31 Aug 2016 20:05:00 +1000

Proponents of developing the north of Australia argue it has a surplus of water, vast expanses of land, and resources aplenty. It is also close to Asia. But, although it makes up 40% of the country’s land mass, less than one and a half million people currently live there. Many are indigenous and live on traditional lands. What does sustainable development in Northern Australia look like? What are the environmental constraints?

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Tax Havens

Tue, 30 Aug 2016 20:05:00 +1000

A century of hidden money, government collusion and international deception

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The new feminist frontier?

Mon, 29 Aug 2016 20:05:00 +1000

The internet is awash with misogyny. Women are on the receiving end of rape threats, death threats, and harassment. How do we deal with it? 

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Hindsight Conference: Terrorism

Thu, 25 Aug 2016 20:05:00 +1000

Why is terrorism such a regular occurrence, and what can be done about it?

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P.J. O'Rourke

Wed, 24 Aug 2016 20:05:00 +1000

Hot off the US convention and campaign trail, America's favourite wit and best-selling author PJ O'Rourke takes a rollicking ride across the US political landscape.

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The Pacific is sinking

Tue, 23 Aug 2016 20:05:00 +1000

Corruption in many Pacific countries appears endemic, the Pacific has the world’s fastest growth rate of HIV infection and the Pacific is predicted to surpass Africa as the world’s poorest region in the foreseeable future Is the Pacific not sinking but being sunk?

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Australian identity and sport

Mon, 22 Aug 2016 20:05:00 +1000

Why is Australian identity and culture so bound up in sport?

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Reconciling Liberty and Security

Thu, 18 Aug 2016 20:05:00 +1000

Has a more balanced management of threats and responses evolved since the September 11th attacks in 2001?

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The science of life and death: Sex

Wed, 17 Aug 2016 20:05:00 +1000

Life begins with sex – we all know that. But how much do we really know about the science of sex?

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Sir Why Am I So Busy?

Tue, 16 Aug 2016 20:05:00 +1000

What does our fascination with digital gadgets and the latest in time-saving technology tell us about our busy selves?

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Trouble in Central Australia

Mon, 15 Aug 2016 20:05:00 +1000

In 2015, the homicide rate in Alice Springs was almost 13 times the national average. Alcohol fuelled violence is a major problem, with per capita alcohol consumption in the town easily exceeding the rest of the country. Then there is the sometimes fraught matter of race relations. The causes of violent crime and alcohol abuse among Central Australia's indigenous population are complex and there are no easy solutions, says Alice Springs journalist and court reporter, Kieran Finnane. She gives an unflinching assessment of the challenges confronting her hometown, as viewed through the prism of the many criminal cases she has reported on.

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Hindsight conference

Thu, 11 Aug 2016 20:05:00 +1000

9/11 - Fifteen years on.

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The danger of ideas

Wed, 10 Aug 2016 20:05:00 +1000

What do trigger warnings and no platforming mean for free speech and intellectual inquiry?

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Big Ideas - 2016-08-09

Tue, 09 Aug 2016 20:05:00 +1000

Big Ideas follows a cosmic chemical pathway from the Big Bang to life as we know it - and faces the challenges with forensic DNA testing.

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Is love an illusion?

Mon, 08 Aug 2016 20:05:00 +1000

The romantics have a lot to answer for, according to philosopher and author, Alain de Botton. Love, marriage and human relationships are not a bed of roses. There is no such person as ‘the one'. And, despite trying to avoid it, many of us will marry the wrong person. You want to know one of the early warning signs? It’s when someone says to you, "I’m a really easygoing, easy to live with, person". Wrong, says de Botton, we are troubled, so you should run a mile if someone says that to you. 

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Our response to mass migration is failing

Thu, 04 Aug 2016 20:05:00 +1000

We need to think about mass migration in new ways – not as a crisis. Instead of starting from a position of fear, we need to respond with confidence.

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Should we trust scientists?

Wed, 03 Aug 2016 20:05:00 +1000

Contradicting information is often intrinsic to science. So if you don’t trust all scientists, how can you find out which ones to trust? And what can we believe?

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The Great War and today's world

Tue, 02 Aug 2016 20:05:00 +1000

Does the past influence the present?

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Spirituality in a secular age

Mon, 01 Aug 2016 20:05:00 +1000

The search for spirituality beyond organised religion.

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Skateboarding and enjoying life

Thu, 28 Jul 2016 20:05:00 +1000

Skateboarding legend Russ Howell discusses the evolution of skateboarding and celebrates the 40th anniversary of the famed skate park, The Snake Run, in Albany, WA.

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Human rights and the sustainable business

Wed, 27 Jul 2016 20:05:00 +1000

Michael Posner explains why human rights are an essential element of sustainable business.

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The digital future

Mon, 25 Jul 2016 20:05:00 +1000

Digital technology is changing how we live, but does the future remain in our own hands?

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Co-ops and the new economy

Thu, 21 Jul 2016 20:05:00 +1000

Can the principles of the old fashioned cooperative or mutal be refashioned for the new economy?

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Creative communities

Wed, 20 Jul 2016 20:05:00 +1000

Can 'creative communities' be planned, or do they occur organically?

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International law and crimes against the environment

Tue, 19 Jul 2016 20:05:00 +1000

Steven Freeland outlines the case for new international laws to deal with crimes against the environment during war.

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Terror attacks in France and cultural integration

Mon, 18 Jul 2016 20:05:00 +1000

A continuing series of terror attacks in Paris has left the French society fragmented. Historian Patrick Weil sees the lack of cultural as well as civic integration as a fundamental problem in today’s France.

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Exploring nature

Thu, 14 Jul 2016 20:05:00 +1000

What does nature mean to each of us?  Why is nature so pure?  And how do we reconnect with the natural world in an age where our lives are connected to technology?  

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In defence of the foodie

Wed, 13 Jul 2016 20:05:00 +1000

Susan Wolf counters the criticisms and fends off the antipathy directed towards the foodie.

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The science of life & death: Death

Tue, 12 Jul 2016 20:05:00 +1000

While we’re good at talking about the beginning of life, we feel pretty awkward when it comes to facing the end. Join three death experts to look at death and dying.

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Australian identity and indigenous recognition

Mon, 11 Jul 2016 20:05:00 +1000

Where to now for indigenous constitutional recognition.

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Diversity and popular culture

Thu, 07 Jul 2016 20:05:00 +1000

We live in a multicultural society so why don't we see it reflected more often in popular culture?

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Comedy over the centuries

Wed, 06 Jul 2016 20:05:00 +1000

Comedy has evolved into many shapes and voices – and different tastes. So what characterises comedy? And what role does comedy have in art and society?

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Have you got grit

Tue, 05 Jul 2016 20:05:00 +1000

Grit - what it is and how it can be cultivated.

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Offshore processing of asylum seekers

Mon, 04 Jul 2016 20:05:00 +1000

What is life is like behind the wire on Manus Island and Nauru?

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Reform tips for the incoming government

Thu, 30 Jun 2016 20:05:00 +1000

Reform tips for the incoming government from the Grattan Institute's program directors.

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David Stratton

Wed, 29 Jun 2016 20:05:00 +1000

David Stratton on the changing face of film festivals, film watching and film itself.

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Political ignorance

Tue, 28 Jun 2016 20:05:00 +1000

Ilya Somin explains why political ignorance is a problem for democracies and how might it be mitigated. 

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Forgiving - the only way forward

Mon, 27 Jun 2016 20:05:00 +1000

Reverend Canon Mpho van Furth says that it’s possible to forgive and still pursue justice.

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Brexit or Bremain? The implications of the UK's EU referendum

Thu, 23 Jun 2016 20:05:00 +1000

The referendum on British membership represents the most immediate and greatest challenge to the post-Cold War order in Europe.

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Regional journalism forum

Wed, 22 Jun 2016 20:05:00 +1000

What effect is digital disruption having on regional news and journalism in Australia?

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Science fiction meets science fact

Tue, 21 Jun 2016 20:05:00 +1000

A writer and an astronomer traverse the blurry line between science fiction and science fact

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Political animals

Mon, 20 Jun 2016 20:05:00 +1000

Marianne Thieme speaks about the successes of the Dutch Party for the Animals and its strategic role abroad.

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Gloria Steinem’s travels

Thu, 16 Jun 2016 20:05:00 +1000

Gloria Steinem talks to Anna Bligh about her travels which formed her adventurous personality.

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