Season

Festival of Ideas May 2015

Please note: this season finished in May 2015
Festival of Ideas May 2015 - brochure cover

The eleventh May Festival of Ideas takes place right after the general election – perhaps the most uncertain and contentious for many decades. The Festival will be looking at the implications of the election results and the programme of the new government from June and into the autumn. In the meantime, there’s much to debate and enjoy in May.

We’re delighted to announce the launch of a new annual lecture series from 2015 with Vintage Publishers. Our first lecturer is Yuval Noah Harari, author of the remarkable book Sapiens.

2015 marks the 50th anniversary of Malcolm X’s death. We’re creating a city-wide reading group of the Malcolm X autobiography – a remarkable book still – with 1000 copies freely distributed.

Acclaimed psychologist Philip Zimbardo looks at men and technology; we debate why companies are too big to jail; look at the Great Depression and the great recession; have Steve Bell on the coalition; examine the legacy of Simone de Beauvoir; and discuss philosophy with John Gray, Susan Neiman, AC Grayling, Theodore Zeldin and Julian Baggini.

The Bristol 2015 programme also looks at extinction and de-extinction, natural capital and the Anthropocene. There’s fiction with Colm Tóibín; Cory Doctorow on information freedom; Yasmin Alibhai-Brown on Englishness; Lynsey Addario on her photography and war; and an evening examining modern Russia.

As ever, it's a packed programme of stimulating events - see you there!

Visit ideasfestival.co.uk for details of all the talks happening in Bristol at Watershed and beyond.

Ticket prices: £5.00 - £8.00

Previous events in this Season

Hadley Freeman - Life Moves Pretty Fast

Talk Hadley Freeman - Life Moves Pretty Fast

Sat 30 May 2015 15:30

Hadley Freeman looks back at the American films of the 1980s, detailing the decade's key players, genres and tropes, and explains why Pretty in Pink and Sixteen Candles should be put on school syllabuses immediately.

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Julian Baggini - Freedom Regained

Talk Julian Baggini - Freedom Regained

Sat 30 May 2015 14:00

Julian Baggini blends philosophy, neuroscience, sociology and cognitive science, and draws on scientific research and fascinating encounters with expert witnesses to bring the issues raised by the possibilities and denials of free will vividly to life.

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McKenzie Wark - Molecular Red

Talk McKenzie Wark - Molecular Red

Sat 30 May 2015 12:00

From the ruins of the Soviet and American histories, McKenzie Wark looks fo a way to understand and combat climate change and provides a message of hope.

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Dieter Helm - Natural Capital: Valuing the Planet (CANCELLED)

Talk Dieter Helm - Natural Capital: Valuing the Planet

Sat 30 May 2015 10:30

In the face of the global, local, and national destruction of biodiversity and ecosystems, in this talk economist Dieter Helm offers a crucial set of strategies for establishing natural capital policy that is balanced, economically sustainable, and politically viable.

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Peter Pomerantsev - Nothing is True and Everything is Possible

Talk Peter Pomerantsev - Nothing is True and Everything is Possible

Fri 29 May 2015 20:00

Peter Pomerantsev takes us deep into the heart of modern Russia, from the 'Gold-digger' academies teaching women how to marry a millionaire, to the lives of Hells Angels, convinced they are messiahs, and the gangsters turned filmmakers.

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Ben Stewart - Don’t Trust, Don’t Fear, Don’t Beg

Talk Ben Stewart - Don’t Trust, Don’t Fear, Don’t Beg: The Extraordinary Story of the Arctic Thirty

Fri 29 May 2015 18:30

Veteran Greenpeace activist Ben Stewart tells the dramatic and inspiring story of the incarceration of the 'Arctic 30' and the ensuing emotional campaign to bring the protesters home.

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George Zarkadakis - In Our Own Image

Talk George Zarkadakis - In Our Own Image: Will Artificial Intelligence Save or Destroy Us?

Fri 29 May 2015 12:30

Science writer, playwright and novelist George Zarkadakis explores one of humankind’s oldest love–hate relationships – our ties with Artificial Intelligence or AI.

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Lynsey Addario - It’s What I Do

Talk Lynsey Addario - It’s What I Do

Thu 28 May 2015 20:00

In this fully illustrated presentation photojournalist Lynsey Addario talks about her life and work photographing the Taliban reign, the Iraq war, Darfur, violence against women in the Congo and more.

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Yasmin Alibhai-Brown - Exotic England

Talk Yasmin Alibhai-Brown - Exotic England

Thu 28 May 2015 18:30

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown paints a sumptuous and illuminating portrait of who the English have been, bringing an invigorating perspective on what 'Englishness' really means.

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Young People's Festival of Ideas: Racism

Event Young People's Festival of Ideas: Racism

Wed 27 May 2015 19:00

Our series programmed by young people continues with a frank discussion on racism and how it affects the lives of young people today.

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Cory Doctorow - Information Doesn’t Want to be Free

Talk Cory Doctorow - Information Doesn’t Want to be Free: Laws for the Internet Age

Wed 27 May 2015 12:30

Can small artists still thrive in the Internet era? Can giant record labels avoid alienating their audiences? Cory Doctorow examines the pitfalls and the opportunities that creative industries (and individuals) are confronting today.

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Alok Jha - The Water Book

Talk Alok Jha - The Water Book

Tue 26 May 2015 20:00

Alok Jha tells the story of water, taking us from the Big Bang to the latest developments of modern science.

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Theodore Zeldin - The Hidden Pleasures of Life

Talk Theodore Zeldin - The Hidden Pleasures of Life

Tue 26 May 2015 18:30

What is the point of working so hard? What can replace the shortage of soulmates? What else can one do in a hotel? Theodore Zeldin demonstrates that both the greatest problems and the greatest opportunities of the twenty-first century lie in our relationships with others.

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AC Grayling - The Challenge of Things

Talk AC Grayling - The Challenge of Things

Tue 26 May 2015 12:30

In The Challenge of Things AC Grayling looks at the world in a time of war and conflict. In describing and exposing the dark side of things, he also explores ways out of the habits and prejudices of mind that would otherwise trap us forever in the deadly impasses of conflicts of all kinds.

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Margaret Heffernan - Beyond Measure

Talk Margaret Heffernan - Beyond Measure: The Big Impact of Small Changes

Mon 25 May 2015 20:00

Margaret Heffernan reveals how organisations around the globe have managed to change themselves in big ways through incremental shifts in their thinking.

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John Gray - The Soul of the Marionette

Talk John Gray - The Soul of the Marionette

Mon 25 May 2015 18:30

We flatter ourselves that we yearn to be free - but what is it that we actually want when we seek freedom? In this talk John Gray draws together religious, philosophic and fantastical traditions that question the very idea of human freedom.

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Susan Neiman - Why Grow Up?

Talk Susan Neiman - Why Grow Up?

Mon 25 May 2015 12:30

Philosopher Susan Neiman explores the forces that are arrayed against growing up and maturity, and shows us how philosophy can help us want to grow up. She argues that being a grown-up is itself an ideal: one that is rarely achieved in its entirety, but all the more worth striving for.

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Caroline Criado-Perez - Do It Like a Woman …and Change the World

Talk Caroline Criado-Perez - Do It Like a Woman …and Change the World

Sat 23 May 2015 17:30

Every day, all around the world, women are reinventing what it means to be female in cultures where power, privilege or basic freedoms are all too often equated with being male.

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Daughters of de Beauvoir CTBA

Event Daughters of de Beauvoir  - Film screening and panel discussion

Sat 23 May 2015 12:30

Ann Oakley and Angie Pegg, who both contributed to the documentary, join Imogen Sutton and others for a panel to discuss what Simone de Beauvoir’s writing means today.

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Barry Eichengreen - The Great Depression and the Great Recession

Talk Barry Eichengreen - The Great Depression and the Great Recession

Sat 23 May 2015 12:30

Professor Barry Aichengreen examines why policymakers didn't do better after the Great Depression of the 1930s and the Great Recession, which began in 2008.

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Sapiens: The Vintage Annual Lecture with Yuval Noah Harari

Talk The Vintage Annual Lecture with Yuval Harari

Sat 23 May 2015 11:00

How did our species succeed in the battle for dominance? Why did our foraging ancestors come together to create cities and kingdoms? Yuval Harari will examine the whole of human history, from the very first humans to walk the earth to modern day.

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Steve Bell - If…on the Coalition

Talk Steve Bell - If…on the coalition 2

Fri 22 May 2015 20:00

The Guardian's political cartoonist Steve Bell presents his latest collection, which covers the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government.

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Brandon L Garrett - Too Big to Jail

Talk Brandon L Garrett - Too Big to Jail

Fri 22 May 2015 18:30

Brandon L Garrett takes us into a complex, compromised world of backroom bank deals, in an unprecedented look at what happens when criminal charges are brought against a major company in the United States and abroad.

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Beth Shapiro - How to Clone a Mammoth

Talk Beth Shapiro - How to Clone a Mammoth

Fri 22 May 2015 12:30

Could extinct species, like mammoths and passenger pigeons, be brought back to life? The science says yes. In this talk Beth Shapiro, evolutionary biologist and pioneer in ancient DNA research, walks us through the astonishing and controversial process of de-extinction.

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Colm Tóibín - Nora Webster

Talk Colm Tóibín - Nora Webster

Thu 21 May 2015 12:30

Colm Tóibín is one of contemporary literature’s most critically acclaimed authors. He talks about his career and writing, in particular his new non-fiction work, an introduction to the work and life of the American poet Elizabeth Bishop, and his eighth novel Nora Webster.

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Miranda Sawyer - The Observer Lecture 2015: Fear of Forty

Talk Miranda Sawyer - The Observer Lecture 2015: Fear of Forty

Thu 14 May 2015 19:00

Award-winning Observer writer Miranda Sawyer takes a funny look at the midlife crisis, and asks what it means for the future of the still-youth-obsessed UK.

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Philip Zimbardo - How Technology Has Sabotaged what it Means to be Male

Talk Philip Zimbardo - Man (Dis)connected: How technology has sabotaged what it means to be male

Wed 6 May 2015 12:30

Young men are failing as never before - academically, socially and sexually. But why, and what can be done about it? Psychologist Dr Philip Zimbardo reveals how modern manhood has hit crisis point and argues that urgent steps must be taken for the good of society.

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