Coasters resting on a bar

Sydney University's Raising the Bar returns Wednesday 16 October

23 September 2019
Academics take to the bars in the CBD, Surry Hills and Parramatta

Tickets are now available for Raising the Bar 2019. Join us across the CBD, Surry Hills and - for the first time - Parramatta, as 21 academics deliver 21 talks across 11 bars in one night.

The University of Sydney is back turning pubs into classrooms on Wednesday 16 October, as Raising the Bar Sydney returns with a series of talks designed to liven up your week and get you thinking.

Now in its fifth year, Raising the Bar sees academics take their research to the people, with 21 academics speaking across 11 bars in the CBD, Surry Hills and, for the very first time, Parramatta.

Tickets are now on sale. For talks in the CBD and Surry Hills two talk times are available, one at 6.30pm and another at 8pm, so attendees can take in two talks in one night. For those thinking of heading west, one talk will be held at 6pm.

Dr Cameron Webb from the University of Sydney’s Westmead Clinical School will take Raising the Bar Sydney out west for the first time when he steps into Nick and Nora's in Parramatta to explore the rise of mosquitoes.

“I hope those in attendance can pick up some tips and tricks on avoiding mosquito bites this summer. I also hope they’ll leave with a greater understanding and appreciation of mosquitoes but that could be a tougher ask,” said Dr Webb, adding it was important to take these discussions public.

“The diverse community of Western Sydney bring a different perspective to learning and their experiences often add to what knowledge I have to share,” says Dr Webb.

“When it comes to future mosquito-borne disease threats, an educated community will be a healthier one too. Confining discussions about this to the lecture hall won’t change people’s attitudes and behaviours.”

Chris Fox speaking at last year's Raising the Bar

Chris Fox speaking at last year's Raising the Bar

Dr Sophia Maalsen from the School of Architecture, Design and Planning will pull up a bar stool at Surly’s in Surry Hills to chat housing and the need for a new model of home ownership.

“We can ‘hack’ housing policy to provide better housing outcomes,” says Dr Maalsen.

“Traditional ways of thinking about housing and housing provision are failing. I want people to understand there are viable alternatives to the family-owned home and housing precarity is something they will likely encounter.”

Dr Maalsen added the real-world nature of research meant it was vital to take these conversations out of the university setting.

“Despite the assumption often made that academics don’t work in the ‘real world’ we research some of the biggest challenges the world currently faces. We do research that has real-world applications and while it is important that we publish this in academic contexts, it is also important that we communicate our research to the broader community. In an era of fake news, good research is still important.”

Raising the Bar is a popular worldwide initiative that started in New York and has since spread to Hong Kong, London and other Australian cities and towns, including Orange and Dubbo.

Tickets are available from and, if past events are any indication, are guaranteed to sell out.

21 academics, 21 topics

A full list of speakers and topics can be found on the website but a select few are highlighted below.

Housing hack: A new model to home ownership presented by Sophia Maalsen

The housing experiences of Australians are changing. While owning a home was once the Aussie dream, rising mortgages coupled with employment precarity and an agile workforce mean that for many, the dream is growing increasingly distant or out of reach altogether. Clearly, something isn’t working. We need a new framework.

Sophia is passionate about understanding the needs of a new generation of urban dwellers, whose housing experience is rented, shared and digitalised. She will explore how we might re-imagine our housing system through innovative models, to one that is not characterised by mass homeownership but rather greater diversity.

Making politicians listen by Marc Stears

Professor Marc Stears

Trust in politics and politicians has collapsed in recent years. “Politicians just don’t listen to people like us,” the complaint often goes. But what can we do to change that? From writing to your MP to striking for the climate, from calling in to a radio talk show to setting up your own campaign group, there are a whole host of techniques open to each of us.

But which work and which don’t? This talk examines the tactics and techniques with proven track records of success across the world, so that we might all start really to make a difference.

3D printing our way to better health by Hala Zreiqat

Professor Hala Zreiqat

Demand for organ donation is rising in lock step with our increasing life expectancy. But if you find yourself in need of an organ transplant, you’re likely to face two key obstacles: lack of organ availability and the possibility of transplant rejection. Enter Hala Zreiqat. She’s testing ways in which 3D printing technologies may one day be used to make 3D printed organs an option for patients. In this talk, Hala will unpack the engineering to explore how materials of the future are being fabricated, and uncover just how close we are to 3D-printed organs becoming a reality.

Climate change and the rise of mosquitoes by Cameron Webb

Dr Cameron Webb

Summer’s just around the corner, and as soon as the temperature rises, mosquitoes come out to play. But what will happen as climate change warms up our cooler seasons? Will mosquitoes be a problem even in winter? And how much do we really know about them?

In this talk we’ll take a deep dive with Cameron Webb into the world of mosquitoes and discover where they come from, why they bite, and what climate change means for our relationship with the mosquito. He might also throw in a few tips about how to avoid getting bitten!


You can listen to this year's talks on Soundcloud and iTunes.

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