Ideas and Society in 2016

The Ideas and Society program is a series of debates and public lectures convened by Professor Robert Manne that consider critical questions of the times. The program brings some of Australia’s leading thinkers and public figures to the University. It aims to deepen the understanding of these critical issues and enlivens intellectual life.

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

How to respond to China’s rise?

Among the most significant consequences of China’s dramatic growth in wealth and power is the way it is unsettling Asia's balance of power. How should the world respond to an increasingly powerful, wealthy and ambitious China? Should Washington try to retain the status quo in Asia, should it contest China's bid for influence or retreat, ceding the region as a whole to this authoritarian behemoth? How the US responds to China will be among the most important decisions it makes and will have consequences across the world.

Hear community leaders debate what has been called "the Hugh White thesis".

Australian politics from Whitlam to Turnbull: change and continuity

Michelle Grattan has been reporting on Australian politics for the past forty years. There is no one whose knowledge of this period is more profound or whose judgment concerning the major events is more reliable. In this Ideas and Society Program event, Emeritus Professor Robert Manne, who has been writing on the broad themes of the Australian political culture for almost as long as Michelle, will be asking her some of the largest questions:

  • Who has led the most impressive government in the years between Whitlam and Turnbull?
  • What have been the most important changes in Australia's political culture during this period?
  • Is Australian democracy more or less vibrant than it was forty years ago?
  • How well adapted is our political system to deal with the economic, social and environmental challenges we will face into the future?

Islam: What are we afraid of?

An exclusive conversation between two great Australian political commentators: La Trobe's Professor Robert Manne, and The Project's Waleed Aly.

Together, the speakers explore how the Muslim community in Australia is faring and how Muslim groups in Australia regard Islamist extremism and 'terror attacks'. Professor Manne will ask Waleed Aly to reveal his thoughts about the rise of ISIS and Islamist extremism and how it might be combatted where it has taken a stronghold. This event is being held in conjunction with the La Trobe Ideas and Society Program.

Ideas and Society is La Trobe's leading intellectual debate series, which bring together prominent speakers to discuss current issues facing our community.

Australia's 'hunting grounds': power, privilege and preventing violence

Following the release of US documentary The Hunting Ground, which cast a spotlight on the horrifying prevalence of sex assaults on university campuses, La Trobe hosted a panel of experts on 11 May 2016 to discuss how tertiary institutions can work to combat the problem.

Three prominent and respected voices will come together for a discussion on sexual violence in universities and, more broadly, across Australian society.

Writing in dark territory

Helen Garner and Anne Manne have written on some of the darkest aspects of the human experience - murder, violence against children, and the contemporary culture of narcissism. In conversation with Ramona Koval, they discuss why they are drawn to these topics and their different ways of writing about them