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Director's Overview - 2013 Festival of Ideas

The University of Melbourne’s 2013 Festival of Ideas will explore the science of healthy living in this challenging 21st century. At a time when we should have the best information to make judgements as to what is best to do as individuals, why do so many ignore or don’t know how to act upon it? At a time when there a many major conditions increasing in modern developed countries like Australia why do we have so few policies that are based on the good evidence that is available? What is the evidence? Can we trust it? How do we judge it as consumers and tax payers?

We have programmed a Festival that has a story to tell and a cohesive theme. From 1-6 October 2013, the Festival will focus on several areas for debate:

1 October Opening reception.

2 October Environments for a healthy society will discuss everything from population and climate change to urban lifestyles and planning, to how Indigenous knowledge might help us;

3 October Food + Nutrition for a healthy society will have specific sessions on obesity and childhood allergies followed by a major session on sustainable food production;

4 October Families for a healthy society will focus on how the changes in society have impacted on parenting, the medicalization of normality (from childbirth to psychosocial problems of children and youth) and will also include a vigorous debate on child and youth rights;

5 October Brains + Mind for a healthy society will focus on aspects such as youth depression, positive psychology, healing through art and the power of music and the networked brain and effects of social media on livelihood.

6 October Democracy for a healthy society will follow a different format – a major debate on how we get science, evidence and wisdom in to action in our current political climate. The day will feature outstanding speakers discussing whether universal health care is vital for a democratic society and how to achieve democracy. Topics such as media, inequality and technology will be the focus.

Each day will feature speakers giving short and lively presentations on the topics, all of which will be lived streamed. Each evening will be consist of light and amusing presentations and performances which both reflect on the topics of the day and give a different perspective – these may be plays, readings, stand-up performances, an opera or a dance.

The students at the University have had a strong say in how the festival should be run and so their presence will be everywhere – showing films to introduce the day’s events, co-chairing sessions and reporting back on each day so that we have some concrete record of our debates and participating during the day and in the evening performances. Whilst most events will be on campus, we are also planning events and discussions within the CBD of Melbourne.

It has been exciting and a privilege to direct this festival and I hope that all of you come, question, disagree and learn.

Professor Fiona Stanley AC
Director of the 2013 Festival of Ideas

Welcome to the 2013 Festival of Ideas

The University of Melbourne seeks to make a difference in our community’s life. One important way we can do this is through public contributions to discussion of ideas.

Since 2009, the University has pioneered a new approach to this timeless challenge: a biennial Festival of Ideas. Directed by Patrick McCaughey, in 2009 and 2011 the Festival explored the separate themes of climate change and identity, with the help of experts from the University, the nation and the wider world.

These wonderful events, each staged as a week-long series of lectures and dialogues, have firmly established the Festival of Ideas as a free gift of significant value to the Australian public and the people of Melbourne.

In 2013, I am delighted that the Festival of Ideas will be directed by University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow and former Australian of the Year Fiona Stanley.

Drawing on her extraordinary expertise both in the health sciences and as a community builder, Professor Stanley brings a compelling and exciting vision to the third Festival of Ideas.

In 2013, the Festival will explore the global theme of a Healthy Society. Reaching for wide and stimulating discussion and engagement across five days, it will take in major themes of Environment, Nutrition, Families, Brain and Mind and Democracy for a Healthy Society.

Under Fiona Stanley’s direction, the 2013 Festival will focus on youth participation, with short, sharp presentations and provocative, entertaining discussions. From Generation X and Y to the baby-boomers, this should truly be a Festival for all.

I am delighted to welcome you to the website for this exciting 2013 Festival. Please return to this space, and contribute your ideas to the program as we build to a memorable five days in Melbourne in October 2013.

Professor Glyn Davis AC
Vice-Chancellor, University of Melbourne

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