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How Australia can save democracy for the world

Is living free of cynicism and contempt the key to success?
Sydney Policy Lab's program launch and inaugural lecture by Marc Stears, leading academic, political strategist and its new Director.

Politics is in disarray across the world, with a wave of extremism sweeping across Europe and the United States. With chaos in Canberra, many are asking will Australian politics fall foul of the same trends or can we as individuals stop the decline and restore the promise of democracy? 

In the lecture, Marc Stears from the Sydney Policy Lab argues that it is possible for democracy to thrive, even in our very turbulent times, but only if people act to save it. The health of our politics is not a matter of vast social and economic forces far beyond our control, he will insist, but instead lies with the daily choices that each of us make as individuals and members of our communities.

If we each abide by the key virtues of generosity, humility, open-mindedness and creativity – living without 'cynicism or contempt' – then we have a chance to prove that democracy can thrive, even in our own turbulent time. If not, then our opportunity to shape the future of this country and the world could be lost for generations to come.

This event was held on Thursday 4 October, 2018 at the University of Sydney.


  • Keynote speaker: Professor Marc Stears is the Director of the Sydney Policy Lab, having previously been Professor of Political Theory at the University of Oxford, the Chief Executive of the New Economics Foundation and a strategic adviser to a number of global companies and charities. He is a well-known political commentator in the UK, having been chief speechwriter to the British Labour Party under the leadership of Ed Miliband. He has published in The Guardian, The Observer, The New Statesman, and many other outlets.
  • Moderator: Professor Annamarie Jagose, Dean of Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Sydney, is internationally renowned as a scholar in feminist studies, lesbian/gay studies and queer theory. She is the author of four monographs, most recently Orgasmology, which takes orgasm as its scholarly object in order to think queerly about questions of politics and pleasure; practice and subjectivity; agency and ethics. She is also an award-winning novelist and short story writer.
  • Chair: Professor Duncan Ivison is currently Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) at the University of Sydney. He has also been Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (2010-15) and Head of the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry (2007-09). He continues to teach in the Department of Philosophy. He has held appointments in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto and the Department of Politics at the University of York (UK).

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