Audience at Sydney Ideas event

2020 events

Panels, forums, talks and more
Sydney's most diverse range of free talks, forums, lectures, panels and debates.


Full program by month

Nano revolution: taking medicine and health to the next level

  • Hear how nanotechnology is unlocking new ways to understand human biology. Scientists expect discoveries in this field will completely revolutionise medicine, from detecting arterial blockages to neural disorders in the brain. Listen to the podcast

Leadership for good: combating viral panic, misinformation

  • Our panel, including an epidemiologist, a historian, politician, student leader and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sydney, examine the social and political responses to the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) outbreak. Has fear of the disease taken on a racial dimension? Listen to the podcast + access transcript

Tides: from curious Kimberley to cannibalistic black holes

  • Why does the Earth have two tides a day? What causes spring and neap tides? Astronomer Don Kurtz uncovers the fascinating and mysterious topic of tides.  

COVID-19: what are the facts?

  • What can we do to prepare and response to this rapidly developing situation? On Wednesday 11 March we hosted an information session with academic experts from the University of Sydney to answer critical questions, from health facts to broader societal implications in Australia. Listen to the podcast

To the point: mental health and COVID-19

  • It's an uncertain time. People are anxious. So, how do we communicate and channel our anxiety to respond productively? Professor Ian Hickie, co-director of Brain and Mind Centre, gives us insights into mental health in Australia and how it's being impacted by COVID-19. Listen to the podcast + access transcript

COVID-19: fear and anxiety

  • The situation around COVID-19 is evolving at an astounding rate. Thinking beyond the physical health ramifications to the mental health, anxiety, communication and sense-making aspects, our panel looks at what's going on and do their best to make sense of the rapidly shifting series of events. Listen to the podcast + access transcript

To the point: how we talk about COVID-19

  • Particularly at this time, the way we talk about the disease and the current situation, can be helpful or harmful, comforting or confusing. What should we be conscious of? We speak with linguist Nick Enfield. Listen to the podcast + access transcript

Flip the Clinic: the digital approach to mental health care support

  • As the COVID-19 situation unfolds, now is the time to rethink how we do things, during this pandemic and beyond. What could a digital present and future look like for mental health? Listen to the podcast + access transcript

Wellbeing and COVID-19

  • COVID-19 has put health firmly at the top of the agenda. While we’re practising physical distancing to maintain our physical health, how do we maintain our wellbeing? Hear insights from the Matilda Centre's Professor Maree Teesson and Dr Lexine Stapinski. Listen to the podcast + access transcript

COVIDSafe app: safe to use?

  • Hear from experts in law, cybersecurity, behavioural economics, and public health informatics, as they examine the implications of the federal government's coronavirus contact-tracing app, COVIDSafe. Listen to the podcast + access transcript

The vaccination gap: increasing uptake and acceptance

  • What does the research on routine immunisation tell us about the possible issues we might face with uptake of a COVID-19 vaccine, should one be found? Hear insights from Professor Julie Leask, social scientist and WHO advisor. Listen to the podcast + access transcript

The road ahead: Australia's economic future

  • Hear from Mark Scott AO from NSW Department of Education, NAB’s Cathryn Carver and University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence AC, as they discuss how we, as a society, rebuild from COVID-19. Listen to the podcast + access transcript

In this together: reckoning before reconciliation

  • 'In this together' – the theme for National Reconciliation Week 2020 – is now resonating in ways we could not have foreseen. Professors Jaky Troy and Lisa Jackson Pulver, defence lawyer Teela Reid and GUIR founder Ken Zulumovski, come together to talk about reconciliation, unfinished business and reckoning. Listen to the podcast + access transcript

Geopolitics in a post-pandemic world

  • How are the US and China handling the COVID-19 situation? What are the impacts of these decisions domestically, and particularly for Australia's relationship with the two states? Listen to the podcast + access transcript

Road to recovery: employment opportunities post-pandemic

  • COVID-19 has revealed the precariousness of our lives and systems. As we start talking about rebuilding, many are left vulnerable, facing uncertain futures. How can we ensure the cracks don’t become chasms and instead develop a plan that supports an inclusive future and supports social cohesion? Listen to the podcast + access transcript

What will the future of women's work look like?

The asset economy: inclusion, exclusion, debt

  • Young Australians are in danger of being the first generation in memory to have lower living standards than their parents’ generation. Is generational progress no longer guaranteed? Listen to the podcast + access transcript

Running out of water

  • By 2030 supply of natural resources will not meet demand. What can we do? Hear about leading research projects that rethink how we clean, transport, distribute water within ourselves that is equitable and sustainable. Listen to the podcast + access transcript

Why climate change and unsustainable development are health hazards

  • 2020 will be defined as the year that physical and mental health led the agenda and headlines, from bushfire smoke, to COVID-19 and economic recession. Do we need to broaden the frame, and add sustainability and climate change to our health risk list? Listen to the podcast + access transcript

Money talks: divesting from fossil fuels

  • How can you ensure that your money is not supporting industries that accelerate climate change, but instead is part of the climate solution? This dynamic panel brings together industry, activists and researchers to explore how we might achieve actions around this. Listen to the podcast + access transcript

Higher degrees of value

  • Will the T-shaped graduate, that is, someone who has both a specialization – an area of deep knowledge and skills – as well as the capacity to think laterally and make connections across disciplines, be even more essential? Led by Professor Annamarie Jagose, our panel includes leaders from EY, Challenger, and Iress. Listen to the podcast + access transcript

End-of-life decisions in non-production animals

  • Considering we don't euthanase humans, how do we navigate through the ethics of conduct in this space and the potential conflicts of interest? In the 2020 Robert Dixon Memorial Symposium, our panel will discuss factors that influence end-of-life decisions. Listen to the podcast + access transcript

Raising the age of criminal responsibility

  • You need to be 18 to vote, 16 to drive a car, 13 to get a Facebook account but at age 10 you’re old enough to take responsibility for your actions – and wind up in jail. What are the social ramifications to introducing people to the system at such a young age? Listen to the podcast + access transcript

Disruption and disability

From rentier capitalism to pandemic slump: the basic income imperative

  • COVID-19 has ushered in a global economic slump, which may lead to a global depression. But is the coronavirus just the trigger for a financial crisis that was waiting to happen? Listen to the podcast + access transcript

Bruce Pascoe: Perennial Soil

  • Bruce Pascoe delivered a lecture on Indigenous farming and land management. The 'Dark Emu' author is also joined in this conversation with agricultural scientist Dr Angela Pattison Listen to the podcast + access transcript

Vision for the future

  • Insights into the work environment from people with lived experience of vision impairment, including the Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Listen to the podcast + access transcript

Charging ahead with clean energy

  • The science and economics tells us sustainable energy alternatives make sense. So, what’s the missing link in the path to a clean and prosperous future? Hear from leading scientists, a City of Sydney Councillor and the NSW Minister for Energy and Environment. Listen to the podcast + access transcript

Heart of darkness: black holes and the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics

  • The 2020 Nobel Prize awarded research into black holes, thinking about the unthinkable, and seeing the unseeable. What makes black holes so exciting? Two of our leading astrophysicists help shed some light on these mysterious objects. Listen to the podcast + access transcript

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