Big Ideas - Full program podcast

Big Ideas brings you the best of talks, forums, debates, and festivals held in Australia and around the world, casting light on the major social, cultural, scientific and political issues

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Big Ideas brings you the best of talks, forums, debates, and festivals held in Australia and around the world, casting light on the major social, cultural, scientific and political issues
🇬🇧 English
last modified
2019-06-21 05:17
last episode published
2019-06-25 20:05
publication frequency
1.76 days
ABC Radio National owner   author  
Number of Episodes
Detail page
Society & Culture



Date Thumb Title & Description Contributors

Rights and the ideal constitution-BBC Reith Lecture 4

The American Bill of Rights is held up as the best way to protect civil liberties and minorities. But entrenched rights from a document written hundreds of years ago can have a downside. Reith lecturer Jonathan Sumption gives his view of the pros and c...
ABC Radio National author

Disruption and surveillance capitalism

Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google - or FAANG - have disrupted our idea of privacy and created what some are calling ‘surveillance capitalism’. And there are other new disruptions ahead.
ABC Radio National author

The rise of the far right

Violent extremism is a global threat. And we’re caught in a deadly cycle of action and reaction. The recent attacks on the mosques in Christchurch shifted the focus from jihadi terror to the growing threat of far-right extremism. What drives extreme ri...
ABC Radio National author

Online help for anxiety

A new training program helps people with anxiety disorder to change their unhealthy thinking patters. It can be done online or even over the phone improving access to professional care.
ABC Radio National author

Human rights and wrongs - BBC Reith Lecture 3

Are there certain rights we're all entitled to as members of the human race? Former UK judge Jonathan Sumption says that the European Court on Human Rights has expanded the definition of rights and it's undermining the wishes of democratically elected ...
ABC Radio National author

John Birmingham on grief, writing, and the publishing business

John Birmingham discusses being blindsided by the depression that followed the death of his father. He also talks about the challenges of being a professional writer in a time of disruption in the media and publishing industries.
ABC Radio National author

60 years of the Antarctic Treaty

For the last sixty years the Antarctic Treaty has protected Antarctica from mining, military activity and environmental damage. The frozen continent is dedicated to peace and science but will it survive the next sixty years?
ABC Radio National author

Australia’s engagement with the Pacific

Australia is neglecting its role in the Pacific – Sean Dorney says that we’ve taken our position in the region for granted for too long and with China’s increased involvement it’s now time to wake up.
ABC Radio National author

In praise of politics - BBC Reith Lecture 2

Parliaments are failing to resolve contentious issues and instead handballing them to the courts to decide. Former judge Jonathan Sumption says that the expansion of the role of the courts may not be good for democracy and politicians need to step up.
ABC Radio National author

How fire has shaped Australia

Long before colonisation, fire was shaping the Australian landscape. Burning was deliberately conducted by indigenous people. But for European Australians, fire quickly became something to fear.
ABC Radio National author

Does tax favour the old and disadvantage the young?

Generous tax concessions and a real estate boom have widened the wealth gap between young Australians and their parents and grandparents. Is it time to change economic policy to rebalance the relationship between the generations?
ABC Radio National author

Anna Funder - Stasi legacy thirty years on

Anna Funder reflects on life in the former GDR under constant scrutiny of the secret police – the Stasi. Has the Stasi left a legacy that people still feel today?
ABC Radio National author

More laws mean less liberty - BBC Reith lecture 1

Jonathan Sumption examines the implications of law filling the gap left by politics and how the growth of the law, driven by demand for greater security and less risk, means we have less liberty.
ABC Radio National author

Climate change and health

The link between climate change and health has many dimensions. Health professionals are being urged to take a political stand and call for climate change action.
ABC Radio National author

Automated decision-making and killer robots

The ethical design and application of artificial intelligence and autonomous military robots
ABC Radio National author

Is racism mainstream in Australia?

Four different perspectives: Does racism in this country occur on the fringes of society or do we have a broader, structural problem? And how does an undercurrent of racism fit in with our supposedly successful multicultural society?
ABC Radio National author

Vote One for compulsory voting and womens' suffrage

We’ve just had a long and exhausting election campaign. Regardless of who you voted for, the electoral system did its job. Australia was ahead of the pack with votes for women and compulsory voting. And where else can you vote and eat a sausage sandwi...
ABC Radio National author

The impact of family violence on pets

Companion animals are caught in the crossfire of domestic violence. Should we view them as victims, in their own right?
ABC Radio National author

Shaping technology to be a social benefit to all

We have the technology but do we have the ability to manage it? Governments are struggling to keep up with digital technology and artificial intelligence which is remaking the world in its own image. Without active public policy, will the technology wo...
ABC Radio National author

Kenan Malik and the limits of identity politics

Many people no longer relate to the left and right divide in politics. They see politics through the lens of their identity: ethnicity, religion, gender or race. But will playing politics this way achieve transformative social change? Analyst Kenan Mal...
ABC Radio National author

The consequence of trauma

Worldwide there are more than 25 million refugees. But their suffering doesn’t end once they reach a safe place. They continue to fight the experience of torture and trauma.
ABC Radio National author

The rise of Meow Wolf and how immersive art can transform us

Vince Kadlubek on how a weird anarchist art collective from Sante Fe, New Mexico, became a cultural juggernaut and 'alt Disney' enterprise.
ABC Radio National author

Do we need GM crops?

Some consumers will go out of their way to avoid genetically modified produce. Despite reassurance from GM scientists, the debate about GM food goes on. As Tasmania reviews its moratorium on genetically modified crops we debate the pros and cons of GM ...
ABC Radio National author

'Green nomad', Bob Brown, in conversation

Ex-Australian Greens leader, Bob Brown, in conversation. He discusses why the environment is our most pressing concern, the impact of big money - and the Murdoch press - on politics, and more.
ABC Radio National author

International action to prevent atrocities

War crimes and human rights abuses are nothing new but have we lost the will to fight them?  An advocate for Human Rights Watch says that atrocities have become the new normal as governments and militias act with impunity.  Despite laws and conventions...
ABC Radio National author

Music and chemistry - and the idea of deep listening

It's the 150 anniversary of the periodic table chemical elements and music has played an important role in shaping it … and you’ll hear about the art of deep listening.
ABC Radio National author

Autonomous cars and robots

Our driverless future and designing robots to mimic humans
ABC Radio National author

What can modern prisons learn from the convicts?

Our criminal justice system has certainly changed since the First Fleet unloaded its cargo of convicts in 1788. But is our prison system doing any better in reducing crime and returning offenders to society? That’s the question explored in this lecture...
ABC Radio National author

Hugh White and Clive Hamilton discuss Australia's China policy

Almost no question is of greater significance for Australia’s future than the emergence of China as an economic and military great power. How should Australia react?
ABC Radio National author

The journey of Munjed Al Muderis from refugee to world leading surgeon

How Iraqi refugee Munjed Al Muderis became a world famous orthopaedic surgeon.
ABC Radio National author

A force for good: Fiona Wood's passion for medicine and medical research

Fiona Wood developed spray-on skin to reduce scarring and recovery time in burns patients. In 2002 she headed the burns team at Royal Perth Hospital when they were called upon to treat victims of the Bali bombing. The daughter of a Yorkshire miner Fio...
ABC Radio National author

Do animals have emotions?

Love, hate, fear, shame, guilt, joy, disgust, and empathy. Animals can feel and express these emotions – just like us. The idea that animal share the same emotions as humans was a taboo in scientific research for a long time. Frans de Waal sets the rec...
ABC Radio National author

Bringing back the bees

Bees are important crop pollinators and farmers are worried by a decline in bee populations. Global honey production has also suffered because of bee diseases and hive collapse. Australian native bees and honey bees are faring better but habitat loss t...
ABC Radio National author

A tale of two buildings: The Sydney Opera House and Parliament House

The fascinating backstories and controversies behind two architectural icons: the Sydney Opera House and the Parliament House.
ABC Radio National author

New rules of war

Do corporations, mercenaries, and rogue states now hold more power than the nation-states? The strategies of conventional wars don’t work in a world of disorder: global terrorism, international criminal empires, dwindling natural resources and bloody c...
ABC Radio National author

What's on the menu in 2050?

What we will be eating in 30 years and where it will come from? Climate change is causing havoc for Australian food producers. Then there’s consumer concerns about how food is produced. And the pressure to feed a growing population. So how are Australi...
ABC Radio National author

Time to reset our relationship with China?

While trade is still strong, recent events have made us see China in a different light.  China’s attempt to influence Australian politics and detention of critics who are dual citizens has made us uneasy about its intentions. So how do we put our relat...
ABC Radio National author

Inside The Family - the legacy of a notorious apocalyptic cult

An investigation of the doomsday cult known as The Family, and it's charismatic leader, Anne Hamilton Byrne
ABC Radio National author

Automation and Australian jobs

Where are the jobs of the future ? What kind of training will I need? These aren’t easy questions to answer as automation and artificial intelligence transforms the economy. A recent report suggests that up to five million Australians will be changing...
ABC Radio National author

History of Native Americans – the other side

The received idea of Native American history has been that with the massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890 Native civilization died. David Treuer puts up a different narrative, because the Indian culture didn’t disappear.
ABC Radio National author

Is it time to curb immigration?

Surveys suggest that most Australians support immigration and see the benefits but we’re worried about our capacity to absorb the rapidly growing population. People complain about traffic gridlock and overcrowding in capital cities, housing prices and...
ABC Radio National author

What price nature?

Can we better conserve our ecosystems and biodiversity by placing an economic value on it?
ABC Radio National author

Refugee women and domestic violence

Migrant or refugee women are often particularly vulnerable to domestic violence. Not because there is more violence in these communities, but because they have more problems accessing help services.
ABC Radio National author

Science and technology driving Australia's future

The economy of the future will be built on science and technology and if we stand still we'll be left behind. Science and business leader David Thodey says Australia's quality of life will depend on the application of digital technologies together with...
ABC Radio National author

Blood bricks – modern slavery in Cambodia

Cambodia's construction boom is based on blood bricks. The huge demand for bricks is met by debt-bonded families working in the kilns under horrible conditions. It's modern-day slavery.
ABC Radio National author

How Australia got its unique system of voting and elections

In Australia we compel citizens to vote, or at least to submit a ballot paper. But this is not the only way Australia does elections differently
ABC Radio National author

Fitter, faster, stronger

You don’t have to be a sports fan to enjoy watching athletes in action. Whether it be the Olympics or a time-trial, there’s always the possibility that a record will fall. But will those records keep falling or are we fast reaching our limits? Athletes...
ABC Radio National author

What is love?

Is romance really dead? Are sexual companion robots the future of relationships? After the news Big Ideas looks at one of the biggest mysteries of man kind – love.
ABC Radio National author

Natasha Stott Despoya and gender equality

There’s been a lot of discussion lately about women in politics. Whether we have enough of them and how they’re treated by their male colleagues. But it seems the more things change, the more they stay the same. When Natasha Stott Despoya became a sena...
ABC Radio National author

Cultural diversity and the Asian-Australian experience

What does it mean to ‘belong’ in Australia, if you’re of Asian heritage?
ABC Radio National author