Melbourne: Australia's intellectual hub?

Four prominent thinkers will debate Melbourne’s reputation as Australia’s intellectual hub.

The panel discussion will be held as part of La Trobe University’s Ideas and Society program on Thursday 6 March in conjunction with the National Gallery of Victoria’s Melbourne Now exhibition.

It will be chaired by Professor Robert Manne, convenor of the Ideas and Society program, and introduced by Professor John Dewar, Vice-Chancellor of La Trobe University.

‘According to conventional wisdom – or perhaps mythology – Sydney is the city of glitz and money while Melbourne nurtures intellectual endeavour, creativity and debate,’ Professor Manne said.

‘Does this thinking still hold true? The panel will look at the many striking initiatives of recent years  and we will ask the question: does Melbourne still deserve the title of the intellectual capital of Australia? Can our city continue to play this vital role?’

Event details

What: Ideas and Society panel event: Is Melbourne still the intellectual capital of Australia?

When: Thursday 6 March 2014, 6.00pm – 7.30pm 

Where: Theatre, Ground Level, The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne

Webcast: Watch live or after the event

Social media: Follow @latrobenews on Twitter and use the hashtag #ideasandsociety to join the conversation

Panel members 

The panel members will be:

Panel themes 

The themes that will be examined by the panel include: 

  • Melbourne’s role in the history of Australian radical political thought 
  • the creativity generated in Melbourne as part of the cultural revolution of the ’60s
  • Melbourne as the driver of scientific research through bodies such as CSIRO and the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research
  • Melbourne’s leading role in publishing as the locale of radical culture magazines Meanjin and Overland, quality non-fiction publishers Black Inc., Text and Scribe and publishing ventures in politics and science such as The Monthly and Cosmos Magazine.

Media contact

Suzi Macbeth, Media and Communications Officer

T + 61 3 9479 5353 | E

Image credit: Tama Leaver 



Hilary McPhee AO was a founding director of McPhee Gribble Publishers, former Chair of the Australia Council for the Arts. Her books include Other People’s Words and Wordlines, published in 2010. Hilary was awarded an Order of Australia for service to the Arts in 2003.

Chris Feik is the publisher of Black Inc. Books, which won the Australian Book Industry's Small Publisher of the Year Award in 2009. Chris is also the editor of the Quarterly Essay and in 2012 he co-edited The Words that Made Australia: How a Nation Came to Know Itself.

Elizabeth Finkel is an Australian science journalist, best known for her books Stem Cells: Controversy at the Frontiers of Science and The Genome Generation. Elizabeth is also editor of Cosmos Magazine, Australia’s premier science magazine and a Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow of La Trobe University.

Jeff Sparrow is an Australian writer, editor and co-author of Radical Melbourne: A Secret History, and Radical Melbourne 2: The Enemy Within (both with sister Jill Sparrow), as well as Communism: A Love Story. Jeff is also the current editor of Australian literary and cultural magazine Overland.

Robert Manne is Emeritus Professor of Politics and Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow at La Trobe University. He is a leading public intellectual and commentator and is the author of Making Trouble: Essays against the New Australian Complacency (published 2011), Left, Right, Left: Political Essays 1977 – 2005 and three Quarterly Essays, most recently Bad News.

About Melbourne Now

Melbourne Now celebrates the latest art, architecture, design, performance and cultural practice to reflect the complex creative landscape of Melbourne. Melbourne Now is on display at NGV International and The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia until 23 March 2014. Entry is free.