Ideas and Society in 2017

All events are streamed live on the day and can be watched after the event on our YouTube channel.

The Russian Revolution of 1917 and World History: A Centenary Reflection

February 2017 marks the centenary of one of the most significant moments in the history of the twentieth century—the Russian Revolution. La Trobe University’s Ideas & Society Program hosted a conversation with the Australian-born Sheila Fitzpatrick, one of the world’s leading historians of the Soviet Union, which was led by the Hansen Chair in History at the University of Melbourne, Mark Edele.

Professor Robert Manne, the Convenor of La Trobe University’s Ideas & Society Program, commented: “In 1950 almost half of the world’s population lived in countries shaped by the Russian Revolution and its aftermath. Today only China remains as a significant descendant of the events triggered by the fall of the Czar in February 1917. The centenary of the outbreak of revolution provides the perfect occasion to reflect on the Soviet experience and the momentous impact of the events of 1917 on the wider world.”

“We are very fortunate that one of our most distinguished historians, Sheila Fitzpatrick, has returned to Australia. I am extremely keen to hear her assessment of the role that 1917 played in the history of Russia and the twentieth century and delighted that one of her most distinguished former students, Mark Edele, has agreed to lead the conversation.”

Our role in Asia in the Trump era

The election of Trump and the victory of the Brexit movement are the most obvious examples of the populism driving countries to become more insular. This combined with China's return to a power of the first order means that Australia faces an increasingly uncertain world.

Hear from former Prime Minister Paul Keating about the path Australia should forge in this rapidly changing world. He has long argued a greater independence in Australian foreign policy could be beneficial and allow more focus on our immediate neighbours: Asian countries to our north.

The Rise of the Right?

In recent times, Donald Trump has been elected as President of the US, the British people have voted to leave the European Union, right-wing regimes have taken power in Hungary and Poland, right-wing parties in Western Europe have grown steadily, while in Australia the One Nation Party has been reborn.

Will the future of politics in the West be determined by the kind of anti-establishment populism these separate developments seem to represent?

According to Professor Manne: “The rise of the populist right is probably the most consequential political development of the current era. Anyone genuinely interested in the future of the United States, Europe and Australia, and indeed of the world, ought not to miss this discussion.”

Recent events held by the Ideas and Society Program--with Professors Sheila Fitzpatrick and Mark Edele on the centenary of the Russian Revolution and with Paul Keating on the rise of China and the future of Australian foreign policy--have sold out very rapidly.

Kevin Rudd on China’s rise and a new world order

China’s emergence as a global power has changed the Asian region and the world. It has reordered established patterns of trade and investment, unsettled a long standing balance of power in Asia and brought old historical antagonisms to the surface.

As President Xi Jinping consolidates his power, China increasingly presents a confident and at times assertive face to the wider world. What does China want from its region? What is its vision for Asia and how much change would this represent? What options exist for Australia to influence how the People’s Republic comports itself on the wider global stage?

There are few Australians more qualified than Kevin Rudd to help answer these questions. As the former Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and currently the President of the Asia Society Policy Institute, he has directly shaped Australia’s relationship with China, and has been a pivotal figure in China engagement in the global community.

Bendigo writers festival

Bendigo Writers Festival is a premier event on the Victorian cultural calendar, attracting local and international authors of standing across a wide range of fiction and non-fiction genres. As a key partner and sponsor, La Trobe University makes a strategic, programming and educational contribution to the festival.

Since 2013 the festival has hosted a changing lineup of distinguished authors, publishers, creative artists and writers of all genres. Previous presenters include: crime writer Michael Robotham, former Prime Minister Malcom Fraser, comedian Denise Scott, Booker Prize winning author Richard Flanagan and award winning memoirist Alice Pung.