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Preview: Big Ideas

Big Ideas - Full program podcast

Big Ideas brings you the best of talks, forums, debates, and festivals held in Australia and around the world, casting light on the major social, cultural, scientific and political issues

Copyright: Copyright 2017, Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

Modern slavery

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 20:05:00 +1000

Slavery was officially abolished in the nineteenth century but is alive and well in the modern world. Criminal gangs force people into sweatshop labour to pay off debts, exploit child labour and organize sex slavery.  Many of the products we use in the developed world are made by workers subject to these conditions. A global effort in policing and development is needed to reduce modern slavery.(Jeanne Menjoulet/ BY 2.0)

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A fair price for a degree

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 20:05:00 +1000

With increased fees and debt, will the cost of a university education outweigh the benefit?(Will Folsom/ BY 2.0)

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Picnic at Hanging Rock

Tue, 20 Jun 2017 20:05:00 +1000

Picnic at Hanging Rock – it’s been 50 years since Joan Lindsay wrote this famous novel of Valentine’s Day school picnic gone wrong.Picnic at Hanging Rock (Stanley Bielecki Movie Collection, Getty Images)

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Civil war and protecting civilians

Mon, 19 Jun 2017 20:05:00 +1000

Civil wars are some of our most destructive conflicts with civilians living on the frontline.

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Mabo Day indigenous forum

Thu, 15 Jun 2017 20:05:00 +1000

Will the Uluru Statement translate into genuine progress for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders?reconciliation image (William West/Getty images)

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Global risks and opportunities

Wed, 14 Jun 2017 20:05:00 +1000

The winners and losers of globalization(Bill Harrison/ BY 2.0)

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Imprisoned by technology

Tue, 13 Jun 2017 20:05:00 +1000

The use of technology as an alternative to prison walls.(Simon Brass/ BY 2.0)

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Susan Faludi on gender, identity and her father’s sex change

Mon, 12 Jun 2017 20:05:00 +1000

Susan Faludi reflects on the notion of 'identity', in the wake of her father's late in life gender reassignment surgery.Susan Faludi (Sigrid Estrada)

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How to talk about science

Thu, 08 Jun 2017 20:05:00 +1000

Do science communicators have to do a better job in getting their message across?Hands-on Science (GoToVan / Flickr CC BY 2.0)

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A tax on meat

Wed, 07 Jun 2017 20:05:00 +1000

David Simon asks for a meat tax to cover the hidden costs relating to animal suffering, damage to the environment and healthcare.Meat tax (Peter Hellberg / Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)

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Missiles testing the peace in Korea

Tue, 06 Jun 2017 20:05:00 +1000

The risk of direct conflict grows as North Korea continues to fire missiles.(TimesAsi/ CC BY 2.0)

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New weapons in the battle against invasive pests

Mon, 05 Jun 2017 20:05:00 +1000

How is new technology changing the face of invasive pest animal control?cane toad image (Getty images)

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Delicious Darkness

Thu, 01 Jun 2017 20:05:00 +1000

  It's time to dim the lights and reclaim the night.(whatleydude/ BY 2.0)

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How your memory works

Wed, 31 May 2017 20:05:00 +1000

The time travelling brain.(Jean-Remy Duboc/ BY 2.0)

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The moral maze of refugees and migration

Tue, 30 May 2017 20:05:00 +1000

Open the door or build a wall. How should we respond to millions of displaced people?(resolutesupportmedia/ BY 2.0)

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T-Rex 101

Mon, 29 May 2017 20:05:00 +1000

T-Rex is one of the best researched dinosaurs of them all. But much of what scientists have found out about him will surprise you.Tyrannosaurus (Nathan Castle / Flickr CC BY 2.0)

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The '67 referendum: a defining moment in Australian history

Thu, 25 May 2017 20:05:00 +1000

It is fifty years since the ‘yes’ vote in Australia's iconic 1967 constitutional referendum67 referendum image (image courtesy of the National Archives of Australia: A1200, L62232)

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Learning and teaching

Wed, 24 May 2017 20:05:00 +1000

Free access to knowledge and inspired teaching.

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The coming war with China?

Tue, 23 May 2017 20:05:00 +1000

What circumstances could lead to a war with China in the Pacific?A satellite view of the Crescent Group of islands which is part of the disputed Paracel Islands located in the South China Sea. (Gallo Images, Getty Images)

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Extremists in our midst

Mon, 22 May 2017 20:05:00 +1000

Author, John Safran, has been hanging out with Australia's "deplorables" - a disparate bunch of political outliers and extremists. What has he learnt?Anti mosque protest image (Quinn Rooney / Getty Images)

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The psychology of money

Thu, 18 May 2017 20:05:00 +1000

What motivates you to spend or save?(Thomas Galvez/ BY 2.0)

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Health Sexuality and Law

Wed, 17 May 2017 20:05:00 +1000

Changing laws and attitudes to sexual minorities(NimalSkandhakumar/ BY 2.0)

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The life and legacy of Paul Robeson

Tue, 16 May 2017 20:05:00 +1000

Paul Robeson was an African American singer, film star, scholar, athlete, civil rights champion and radical political activist. What is his legacy today?Paul Robeson image (Bettman/Getty Images)

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Eurovision – more than just a song contest

Mon, 15 May 2017 20:05:00 +1000

There is more to the Eurovision Song Contest than Euro-kitsch. It’s an attempt to unify the continent and offer a platform for minority identities. And it’s often also highly political.Dami Im (Anadolu Agency, Getty Images)

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East Timor and self-determination

Thu, 11 May 2017 20:05:00 +1000

Where will we draw the maritime border in the resource-rich Timor Sea?

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Geoff Mosley: a life for the environment

Wed, 10 May 2017 20:05:00 +1000

Geoff Mosley, the former director of the Australian Conservation Foundation, is one of the most significant figures of the environment movement in Australia. World heritage status of the Great Barrier Reef, recognition of the Alpine National Parks, preservation of Fraser Island - his achievements are many. And on Big Ideas he reflects on the history of conservation in Australia.Great Barrier Reef (Arterra / Contributor, Getty Images)

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Finding life in space

Tue, 09 May 2017 20:05:00 +1000

Could the most like form of extra-terrestrial life be a fish? Water has a crucial role in the development of lifeMars (Kevin Gill / Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)

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A conversation with Tibet's leader in exile

Mon, 08 May 2017 20:05:00 +1000

Dr Lobsang Sangay, President of the Central Tibetan Administration, speaks about his vision and hopes for Tibet, and the challenges facing his country.Lobsang Sangay image (Lobsang Wangyal/Getty Images)

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One Nation and Muslim immigration

Thu, 04 May 2017 20:05:00 +1000

Who votes for One Nation and why?(Getty Images/Bradley Kanaris)

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Robot friends and robot armies

Wed, 03 May 2017 20:05:00 +1000

We look at robots as friend and foe. Designers are getting better at creating life-like robots who are more responsive to our social and emotional needs. They're already able to perform many tasks but can they ever take the place of human companions? At the other end of the scale, military robots are replacing humans on the battlefield as clinical killing machines.

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DNA manipulation and doping

Tue, 02 May 2017 20:05:00 +1000

The same science that’s so promising in fighting deadly diseases will cause a nightmare for anti-doping organisations.Runner on track (Klaus Vedfelt, Getty Images)

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How immigration shaped Australia

Mon, 01 May 2017 20:05:00 +1000

Australia is a nation shaped by immigration. From the first fleet onwards, people from all over the world have arrived here and made a new life for themselves, and their families. In the post war, ‘populate or perish’, era, migrants came from Italy, Greece, and other parts of Europe. Then, following the Vietnam War, Asian immigration dramatically increased. Modern Australia is a multicultural country. Paul Barclay speaks with a panel of guests about the impact of immigration on Australia.anti Muslim protest (Quinn Rooney / Getty images)

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Make it your business to do good

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 20:05:00 +1000

Business with a social purpose tackles inequality.

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Global corruption

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 20:05:00 +1000

Australia is ‘the Cayman Islands of the South Pacific' - a safe haven for money coming into the country through international corruption.Corruption money (Dimitris Kalogeropoylos / Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)

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Fuzzy thinking won't save the planet

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 20:05:00 +1000

We can't solve the world's problems without evidence and expertise.(NASA Goddard Space Flight/ BY 2.0)

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Utopian thinking

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 20:05:00 +1000

In an age of pragmatism, do need Utopian thinkers?Thomas More image (Getty Images)

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A brief history of tomorrow

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 20:05:00 +1000

Will the working class become the useless class as technology destroys millions of jobs?Are we heading in the right direction for the future we want? (digital cat/ /CC BY 2.0)

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Has political correctness failed?

Wed, 19 Apr 2017 20:05:00 +1000

Is political correctness a force for good or the enemy of free speech?(NewtownGraffiti/ BY 2.0)

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Disadvantaged remote Australia

Tue, 18 Apr 2017 20:05:00 +1000

Mothers and families could bring down the Indigenous incarceration rate and help break the vicious circle of violence and drug abuse in Indigenous communities.Indigenous incarceration rate (Dave Nakayama / Flickr CC BY 2.0)

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Dating, divorce, and capitalism, according to Helen Razer

Mon, 17 Apr 2017 20:05:00 +1000

Helen Razer is known for her biting political and cultural commentary and for having a soft spot for Marxism. But when she was wrought with sadness and heartbreak, following the disintegration of a long term same sex relationship, she decided the way out was to re-enter the dating fray. And to write a book about it. Helen spoke to Paul Barclay about "divorce" and the experience of modern dating. Predictably, it wasn’t long before the discussion was steered towards money, class and economics.

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Diet and mental health

Thu, 13 Apr 2017 20:05:00 +1000

Eat well to boost your brainpower and reduce your risk of depression.

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Why do you need a digital identity?

Wed, 12 Apr 2017 20:05:00 +1000

Estonia is a digital pioneer offering e-identity and e-citizenships as well as a whole range of the digitalised government, education and public services.

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Hidden hazards

Tue, 11 Apr 2017 20:05:00 +1000

Fragrance is just one of the hidden hazards in the household products we use.

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Feminist Lindy West talks Twitter, trolls and Trump

Mon, 10 Apr 2017 20:05:00 +1000

A conversation with writer Lindy West about her memoir, "Shrill".

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The liberalism of fear

Thu, 06 Apr 2017 20:05:00 +1000

How should liberal criminal justice respond to community demands for increased penalties and protection?

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Guilty Pleasures

Wed, 05 Apr 2017 20:05:00 +1000

Should we embrace pleasure, or is too much self gratification bad for us?

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From time travel to micro-recycling

Tue, 04 Apr 2017 20:05:00 +1000

If we could time travel, would it be desirable to dabble with our past? And could we reducing electronic waste through micro-recycling of precious elements in micro-factories?

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The future of journalism

Mon, 03 Apr 2017 20:05:00 +1000

Why does journalism matter?

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Preparing for climate change

Thu, 30 Mar 2017 20:05:00 +1100

How life will change with the climate.

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Life as a refugee

Wed, 29 Mar 2017 20:05:00 +1100

The challenges of living in the world’s biggest refugee camp in Northern Kenya… and then adjusting to a completely foreign life in Australia.

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The future of the photo documentary

Tue, 28 Mar 2017 20:05:00 +1100

Is there still a role for photo-journalism? For pictures conveying a message about suffering, about inequality, about celebration and about change?

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Trust and truth in the digital news age

Mon, 27 Mar 2017 20:05:00 +1100

How should we combat the epidemic of 'fake news'?

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Our most precious liquid

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 20:05:00 +1100

Water is an essential resource we need to share it equitably with each other and the natural world.

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Pursuing immortality

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 20:05:00 +1100

But only because science might eventually be able to achieve it, should we be pursuing immortality?

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Mysteries of the brain

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 20:05:00 +1100

How does the brain make us human? How can we control machines with our mind? And how we can feel music by linking up brainwaves to instruments.

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Inside 'The Family': the legacy of a notorious apocalyptic cult.

Mon, 20 Mar 2017 20:05:00 +1100

An investigation of the doomsday cult known as The Family, and it's charismatic leader, Anne Hamilton Byrne

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How to feed the planet

Thu, 16 Mar 2017 20:05:00 +1100

Navigating the three biggest challenges to the global food system

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Where will America First take us?

Wed, 15 Mar 2017 20:05:00 +1100

Donald Trump is determined to shake up America and America's alliances. How will it change the relationship with our most important ally?

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China revolution and repression

Tue, 14 Mar 2017 20:05:00 +1100

Will personal freedom always give way to social control in China?

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Lucky country?

Mon, 13 Mar 2017 20:05:00 +1100

Is Australia still the "lucky country"?

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Consuming our future

Thu, 09 Mar 2017 20:05:00 +1100

Only lowering our living standards will achieve sustainable growth. That’s the message from Satyajit Das.

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About women and mothers

Wed, 08 Mar 2017 13:05:00 +1100

Mothers. Everyone has one. Not every woman wants to be one. The merits of motherhood for the Modern Women is a question that can still confound, confuse, astound and confront.

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Mess makes you more creative and resilient

Tue, 07 Mar 2017 20:05:00 +1100

Messiness and randomness lie at the core of how we innovate and how we connect with each other - in short, how we succeed.

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Steven Oliver: Black Comedy

Mon, 06 Mar 2017 20:05:00 +1100

Steven Oliver is an indigenous poet and rapper, actor, singer, dancer and writer. He was the creative force behind the ABC’s cult TV show, 'Black Comedy'. It was a cheeky mix of satire, indigenous humour, and high camp. More importantly it was the first all-Aboriginal TV comedy in over 40 years. Paul Barclay is in conversation with Steven, who is also an advocate for social change. Why are there so few indigenous people on TV screens?

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Nigeria - a failed state?

Thu, 02 Mar 2017 20:05:00 +1100

Behind the violent insurgencies in Nigeria is not just corruption, but the crumbling of state, civic, customary and religious authority.

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Behind the scenes of the CIA

Wed, 01 Mar 2017 20:05:00 +1100

Former Deputy Director of the CIA Michael Morell lifts the veil from the inner workings of the intelligence agency – somewhat.

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Families and communities

Tue, 28 Feb 2017 20:05:00 +1100

The state of the nation starts in your street

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Death in Rabaul: a forgotten battle from the Pacific War.

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 20:05:00 +1100

Seventy-five years ago, five Australians, including an eleven-year old boy and his mother, were executed for spying by a Japanese firing squad in Rabaul, in the Australian territory of New Guinea. Writer and journalist, Ian Townsend, unearths the story behind their deaths.  In doing so, he uncovers a forgotten story of World War Two. The Japanese invaded and occupied the island of New Britain, then a part of Australia, and intended it to be there South Pacific military base. Over a thousand Australians died. It was the first combat in WW2 between Australians and an invading force. Why don’t we know this part of our history? Paul Barclay is in conversation with Ian Townsend

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Thu, 23 Feb 2017 20:05:00 +1100

Does the traditional travelling circus have a future in Australia?

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A brief history of tomorrow

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 20:05:00 +1100

Will the working class become the useless class as technology destroys millions of jobs?

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The wonder that is glass

Tue, 21 Feb 2017 20:05:00 +1100

Where would we be without spectacles, light bulbs and windscreens? How many lives were saved through germ identifying microscope lenses? And how pleasurable would life be without windows, computers or telephones?

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Genomic medicine

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 20:05:00 +1100

How is genomics changing medical practice?

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Thu, 16 Feb 2017 20:05:00 +1100

The frozen and fragile continent of Antarctica needs international attention. With increasing state rivalries, environmental concerns, and the need for resources, is the Antarctic Treaty System in need of reform?

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Understanding Islam

Wed, 15 Feb 2017 20:05:00 +1100

How much is Western culture is derived from the Abrahamic religions and traditions? And are some core Islamic values at odds with the contemporary materialistic world? A panel of experts tries to explain Islam.

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2016 Geoffrey Bolton lecture

Tue, 14 Feb 2017 20:05:00 +1100

The search for identity and the search for self. Lost memories and the historical record.

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Women's rights in Afghanistan

Mon, 13 Feb 2017 20:05:00 +1100

In Afghanistan, two lovers, Zakia and Ali, friends since childhood, elope: defying the wishes of their families, cultural norms, and Afghan and Islamic Law. Zakia’s family vows to kill her, to restore the family’s "honour". The couple is forced to run away and live a life of fugitives. Former New York Times bureau chief in Kabul, Rod Nordland, met the couple, and helped protect Zakia. He tells their story in “The Lovers”. What does the story tells us about women’s rights in Afghanistan, post Western intervention? And what happens when you cross the line from dispassionate journalist, to being entangled in the lives of your subjects? Paul Barclay interviews Rod Nordland.

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The role of media in public opinion

Thu, 09 Feb 2017 20:05:00 +1100

A panel of journalists and community leaders look at how media portrays marginalised groups and how they can shape social cohesion – for the better or worse.

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Science, life and the universe

Wed, 08 Feb 2017 20:05:00 +1100

How is our cosmos finely tuned and just right for life? It's time to ask some of the deep questions about our place in the cosmos.

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Reconciliation after violent conflicts

Tue, 07 Feb 2017 20:05:00 +1100

There's an increasing number of missing persons and unidentified dead bodies in today's conflicts. What are the socio-cultural, political, legal and psychological impacts on the involved communities?

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Restoring Lake Pedder

Mon, 06 Feb 2017 20:05:00 +1100

45 years ago, Tasmania’s Lake Pedder, with its glorious pink quartz sand, was flooded to create hydro-electric power for the state. Conservationists are convinced it is a lost jewel in the crown of Australia’s natural environment. Almost from the moment of its inundation, there were calls to restore Lake Pedder it to its past glory. Experts say this is technically feasibly, and once again the idea being discussed. But is restoring Lake Pedder a utopian dream, or a realistic goal?

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Financial secrecy

Thu, 02 Feb 2017 20:05:00 +1100

Money laundering, market rigging, digital 'off-shoring'. Are some people and corporations above and beyond the law?

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Marriage equality in Ireland

Wed, 01 Feb 2017 20:05:00 +1100

A campaign for marriage equality has to be about "real people" and not simply a lofty debate about law, philosophy and religion.

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Tue, 31 Jan 2017 20:05:00 +1100

A journey to outer space. After nine and a half years travelling at 53 000 kilometres an hour, the New Horizons team reached Pluto. NASA Astrophysicist Fran Bagenal recounts the journey and the unexpected findings.

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The return of inequality: CBC Massey Lecture 5

Mon, 30 Jan 2017 20:05:00 +1100

There is a myth that great wealth enables our economies to grow, but wealth can actually stand in the way of economic development; inequity can slow us down. Fairness lies at the heart of liberal democracy, and in the face of unfairness, we rebel. Unfairness makes us work less hard to create a good society. Why should I work hard, what's in it for me? Economic inequality inevitably translates into political inequality, which is not what we thought we were working towards. Jennifer Welsh presents the fifth and final of her 2016 Massey lectures, "The Return of Inequality".

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The return of the cold war: CBC Massey Lecture 4

Thu, 26 Jan 2017 20:05:00 +1100

Are we witnessing the return of the cold war?

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The return of mass flight: CBC Massey lecture 3

Wed, 25 Jan 2017 20:05:00 +1100

Millions of people around the world are on the move. How do we deal with this "mass flight"?

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The return of barbarism: CBC Massey lecture 2

Tue, 24 Jan 2017 20:05:00 +1100

Half a decade ago, freedom movements were ascendant in a number of countries - Egypt, Tunisia, Libya. But today the gains from the so called 'Arab Spring' seem, mostly, lost. Authoritarian regimes have been winding back the progress in human rights and democracy we thought we were witnessing, and the rules that govern conflict and maintain global peace are being erased. In her second 2016 CBC Massey lecture, called 'The Return of Barbarism', Jennifer Welsh contrasts the world of today with the prediction in 1989 of 'The End of History'.

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The return of history: CBC Massey lecture 1

Mon, 23 Jan 2017 20:05:00 +1100

Have predictions of the 'end of history' proven premature?

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The Pacific is sinking

Sat, 21 Jan 2017 21:05:00 +1100

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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Aristotle: 2,400 years on

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 20:05:00 +1100

Aristotle - why is he one of the most influential thinkers of all time?

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Science, values and ethics

Wed, 18 Jan 2017 20:05:00 +1100

The ethics, values and science surrounding the bionic body.

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Mary Norris and Steven Pinker: why words and language matter.

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 20:05:00 +1100

Mary Norris: what copy editors do and why standards matter. Steven Pinker: how the craft of writing can be improved.

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

Mon, 16 Jan 2017 20:05:00 +1100

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 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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Gloria Steinem’s travels

Sat, 14 Jan 2017 21:05:00 +1100

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

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Comedy over the centuries

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 20:05:00 +1100

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

Wed, 11 Jan 2017 20:05:00 +1100

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

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Vaccines for Ebola: tackling a market failure

Tue, 10 Jan 2017 20:05:00 +1100

A market failure has prevented the development of vaccines against Ebola, MERS and other viruses. Ironically, emerging data suggest these vaccines might be quite straightforward to develop to licensure.

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Stan Grant on race, history and identity

Mon, 09 Jan 2017 20:05:00 +1100

“The Australian Dream is rooted in racism”, says journalist and broadcaster, Stan Grant. As he tells Paul Barclay, he has long had a difficult relationship with Australia, angry about its post colonial history, about how his forebears were treated, and at how we continue to deal with indigenous people today. Stand Grant may have been a presence on our TV screens for decades, but he has lived with an inner turmoil, struggling to deal with his identity as an Aboriginal man in a country where the scars of history are yet to heal.

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Is addiction a disease?

Sat, 07 Jan 2017 21:05:00 +1100

The accepted wisdom is that addiction to drugs, like ice or heroin, is a disease of the brain. Neuroscientists can actually see how drug use alters the brain. Drug users, therefore, should not be blamed for their addiction: they are not weak, or bad, or morally flawed. Because their addiction a disease, it follows their condition should be medicalized and treated by clinicians. This, so called, 'brain disease model' of addiction is now being seriously questioned. Paul Barclay talks to some of dissenters.

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Exploring nature

Thu, 05 Jan 2017 20:05:00 +1100

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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