Society & Politics
Examine the ties that bind us as communities and the customs & structures we create
Can rituals change the world?
Do you ever pray, raise a glass to make a toast, attend weddings or birthday parties? Rituals come in many different forms and are practiced by all cultures around the world. But why are they so important to us?
How can we unlock our brain's creative potential?
How can I be more creative? This is the question Professor Anna Abraham is most often asked and in this fireside conversation, she will be sharing the answer to this question, grounded in her research on creativity and the brain.
Where does money come from?
From barter to modern-day digital currencies, money has taken many shapes and forms over the years. But how did we originally come to trust a piece of paper?
Is there creative power in paradox?
Could those moments where uncertainty or contradictions exist foster creativity? Dr. Wendy Smith will share how dilemmas and paradoxes can create the conditions for creativity and innovation and how this exists in all our lives.
Does artistic genius exist?
Great artists are often described as geniuses. But what is artistic genius and would we know it if we saw it? Where does artistic creativity come from? From God, from imagination, or from hard work?
Does power really corrupt?
Power is intoxicating, or so we're told. But do we really understand why people in power often end up becoming more tyrannical than benevolent? And why do they cling onto power once they have it?
Should we want to live forever?
Many people believe that science is on the verge of fulfilling an ancient dream: stopping ageing and granting us all radically longer lives. But what will this mean for ourselves, society and the planet?
Why do countries dominate certain sports?
Freakonomics revealed that economics is everywhere. But what about the world of sport? Why are some countries better at certain sports than others? And what does economics have to do with it?
How does pop culture influence art?
From the paintings of Van Gogh to the music of Beyonce, art has a very close relationship to popular culture reflecting the trends and tastes of a given time, and provide insight into tastes in music, fashion, popular stories and much more
How was China born?
China appears to us as timeless and permanent, homogenous and unified - but how true is this? How did modern day China emerge?
Is obesity a choice?
According to the World Obesity Federation it is estimated that over 1 billion will be affected by obesity by 2025. Does obesity lie within our control? What impact do genes have on our appetite and body weight?
Why should we value refugees?
Wars, famines, persecution & economic inequality are creating forced migration across the world with millions displaced. But many aren't welcomed in their new home. How & why should we value refugees?
Is capitalism Disney’s best untold story?
Disney is inseparable from American culture and Hollywood entertainment, and it has become synonymous with global consumer capitalism. But what can we learn about the history of capitalism from Disney?
Would a wealth tax work?
Societies are becoming more economically unequal over the last 50 years. The wealthiest 10% of households now hold 43% of all the wealth in Great Britain. Should we tax wealth? And if so, how?
How does our early education shape our future?
What do you picture when you think of education? Schools, teachers, homework, probably exams... But education actually starts much earlier in life. Why are the early years so important, and how can they impact how a child grows up?
Can art change society?
Many artists have tried to re-shape society, using art as a tool for propaganda and protest, to bring about social change, and to improve people’s lives. But can art really make a difference? And where would we be without it?
Is our anatomy our destiny?
In 1911, French doctors thought LS, a fashion model, had herniated ovaries. No one expected them to be testes. What is intersex? And what can we learn about sex and gender development from it?
Could Putin be held to account for war crimes in Ukraine?
News broke that Ukraine was preparing war crimes charges against Russian military personnel. How feasible or likely is it that participants in the war could end up in the docks in Ukraine or the International Criminal Court in The Hague?
Is economic inequality a problem?
Many societies have become more economically unequal over the last 50 years; the world’s richest 1% now owns nearly 50% of the world’s wealth. What has driven this increase in inequality, and is it actually a problem?
How can we avoid nuclear war?
From the Cuban Missile Crisis to the Cold War, the spectre of nuclear war has loomed over the planet many times since WWII. How did we step back from the brink, and what does that tell us about how to handle Putin's threats?
Is social media today's central battlefield?
International diplomacy in the age of social media is no longer conducted by letter or phone call but Live Tweeted in real time & in public. From Trump vs North Korea to Wars, how are foreign relations conducted in the Digital Age?
What turns a leader into a dictator?
The 20th and 21st centuries are said to be the age of dictatorship, and this month's invasion of Ukraine is the latest frontline. With our world's leaders in the spotlight, what traits do they share, and when and why do they cross society's boundaries?
Why can't Putin accept Ukraine's independence?
The invasion of Ukraine by Russia took the world by surprise. But tension between these two nations has been bubbling for many years. Why is Ukraine so important to Putin? And how did we get from Ukrainian independence to invasion?
What does fiction say about the world we wish we had?
Imagining new worlds in speculative fiction and sci fi doesn't just help us envision possible futures; it also gives us a way to think about our world as it is now. What do our fictional worlds tell us about the world we want to live in?
Could the metaverse perfect our imperfect world?
When people talk about the metaverse, they mean a future where there's a seamless connection between physical reality and the virtual world. But will that future be better than the world of today?
What conditions create witch hunts?
Witch hunting is, by and large, a thing of the past, yet we remain captivated by the concept. What drives this fascination, and why are we still talking about witch hunts today?
Why do we think white means pure?
The colour white has been associated with purity for millennia in religious iconography, architecture and art. But has it come to represent something darker too?
What is the future for our children?
Prof. Anthony Costello discusses his decades in public health. How has social, economic and health development affected the health of our planet?
How do we handle mentally ill offenders?
It's not always clear what drives a criminal to act the way they do. How does the justice system deal with offenders whose behaviour is rooted in mental illness?