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Pubs and bars turn into classrooms

23 September 2016

Amid calls for a 'pub test' for research grants, University of Sydney academics will rise to the challenge on Tuesday 18 October, when they deliver a series of public talks in bars and pubs across Sydney. 

Associate Professor Dieter Hochuli, Dr Alana Mann, Dr Celine Van Golde and Dr Christopher Neff at Cake Wines, Redfern.

Associate Professor Dieter Hochuli, Dr Alana Mann, Dr Celine Van Golde and Dr Christopher Neff at Cake Wines, Redfern. 

From airlines and Quidditch to some of the greatest films and business innovations, there has been a multitude of ideas conceived over a few drinks at the pub. Could a PhD thesis also be on this list?

On 18 October, Sydney’s watering holes will transform into classrooms for one night as 20 academics enter 20 bars to deliver 20 free thought-provoking talks.

The University of Sydney has joined Raising the Bar to bring the popular worldwide initiative, previously run in New York, Hong Kong and London, to Sydneysiders.

Established in 2014, Raising the Bar began with a group of students from Columbia University and New York University who were looking to share the unique learning experience from the world’s greatest minds with the general public.

Associate Professor Dieter Hochuli said, “A lot of my good ideas and collaborations have started in bars. It only seems right to go full circle and talk about them in a bar.”

Presented by Chris Neff at the Oxford Hotel

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"As an LGBTQI movement we do not study, celebrate, or discuss our victories enough,” Dr Chris Neff said. “Understanding these victories is crucial toward building momentum for greater equality, more sophisticated organising, and filling in the gaps where some are left behind.”

Dr Neff will reflect on the top 10 LGBTQI victories. As Australia faces the prospect of a marriage equality plebiscite, it’s critical that we reflect on these significant wins, said Dr Neff. “We have a lot to celebrate and discuss."  

Presented by Celine Van Golde at the Bristol Arms Hotel

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With the popularity of Making a Murderer, The Night Of and Serial, people around the world have become aware that the legal system is not perfect. Founder of the Not Guilty: the Sydney Exoneration Project, Dr Celine Van Golde, will present a real-life case of a wrongful conviction.

“Despite best efforts, innocent people can go to jail. Although we feel rather confident in our legal system in Australia, similar mistakes are being made here,” Dr Van Golde said. Unintentional mistakes, by eyewitnesses, police, prosecutors, and other experts can lead to a person spending more than four years in jail for a crime they did not commit. What can we do to prevent future miscarriages of justice?

Presented by Dieter Hochuli at the Annandale Hotel

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We often think of cities as concrete jungles, dominated by humans and their structures, but a surprising number of animals and plants share our cities with us. Some even thrive, seemingly better off here than in their natural habitats.

Associate Professor Dieter Hochuli will explain how nature has adapted to our modern cities at The Annandale Hotel on the night. “With 80 percent of humans predicted to live in urban areas by 2050, it is vital that we learn how urban ecosystems can persist and flourish,” said Associate Professor Hochuli. 

Presented by Alana Mann at Sappho Wine Bar

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Anti-competitive behaviour, predatory pricing, land-grabbing and shortchanged farmers are all part of Australia’s grocery stores. With Coles and Woolworths dominating not just food but petrol, hardware and liquor sales, this is the most concentrated grocery market in the world.

Putting her research to the pub test as part of Raising the Bar, Dr Alana Mann said will address the duopoly of Australia’s grocery sector and ask why we should care. “We all eat, so power in the food system is everyone’s business,” she said.

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