Festival of Ideas 2011 – It’s a wrap

June 11 / 63

Gareth Evans gives Keynote speech, War, Peace and National Identity
Gareth Evans gives Keynote speech, War, Peace and National Identity

The University’s second Festival of Ideas, themed the Pursuit of Identity: Landscape, History and Genetics concluded last week, after six days of keynote speeches, panel discussions, theatre performances, play readings and tours featuring local, national and international guests.

Chancellor Elizabeth Alexander, who opened the festival, welcomed the audience of University staff and students and the wider Melbourne community to the University.  

She said during the festival, audiences would “hear from leading scientists and social scientists, lawyers and historians, writers and performers, artists and art historians.

“Tracking the nature of identity is not the province of any one discipline or body of knowledge,” she said.

“Thanks to the genetic revolution, our past shapes our present, and may determine our future.” 

Science writer and author Dr Matt Ridley delivered the first keynote speech, Genes, Technology and the Evolution of Culture.

Among the many other presenters were Sir David Cannadine from Princeton University, who spoke about the construction of national identities, author Thomas Keneally, who spoke about Australian utterances and manifestations of identity, University Professorial Fellow Gareth Evans, who spoke about war, peace and national identity, and recently appointed Director of the Australia-India institute Professor Amitabh Mattoo, who hosted a panel discussion on how peace could be assured in  India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. 

Interest, engagement and participation in this year’s festival by the greater Melbourne and Australian community was particularly strong: Since the launch in February, the festival website had almost 47,116 visits and 125,734 page views, with 12,501 visits and 31,686 page views in the festival week alone. 

This year’s festival also saw increased University engagement with the Melbourne community through diverse media channels including The Age’s new iPad Application, which featured an article about the festival every day, and a much increased presence of social media. There were more than 200 tweets during the Festival, with 530 people engaged on Facebook and another 340 following the festival on Twitter.

Though the festival is over, all the panels and lectures are available at http://live.unimelb.edu.au/ 


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