Wednesday, January 30, 2013

FEBRUARY 2013


As usual, the summer months have been quiet on the Canberra intellectual scene although we did attend Michael Clemens’ talk on the economics of migration at the ANU’s Crawford School. We also managed to get down to Melbourne for David Coles’ pre-Christmas talk on the impact on civil liberties of anti-terrorism legislation in the United States and how the balance has been negotiated.

Next month

In February, things start to pick up again with a couple of excellent talks on the latest developments in bio-medical science, on cancer research in particular, by world-leading scientists. Also, keep an eye out for the program of activities happening in conjunction with the Toulouse-Lautrec exhibition at the National Gallery. One of Canberra's favourite events (if for no other reason that the chance to sample beers from around the world), the annual National Multicultural Festival is on in the city (http://www.multiculturalfestival.com.au/home). Finally, the program of cinema in the courtyard of the National Film Archives is coming to its final weeks but you still have a chance to catch Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (recently voted the best movie ever in a survey of leading critics).
http://www.nfsa.gov.au/calendar/event/4119-vertigo/



Tuesday 5 February
Title: Harnessing death for life
Time: 6:00pm
Venue: Australian Academy of Science, Shine Dome, ANU
Cost: Free, registration required
http://science.org.au/events/publiclectures/gi/cory.html

The past 30 years have seen a revolution in our understanding of the genetic factors that contribute to cancer development. One of the most surprising discoveries has been that impairment of the natural process of cell death (apoptosis) is a critical step towards malignancy and impedes effective cancer therapy. In this lecture, Professor Suzanne Cory from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research will describe how detailed knowledge about the molecular circuitry regulating the switch between cellular life/death is leading to the development of a new class of drugs that should greatly aid treatment of many types of cancer.

Monday 11 February
Title: The discovery of quasi-periodic materials - a paradigm change in crystallography
Time: 4:00 - 5:00pm
Venue: Chemistry theatre, Building 34, ANU
Cost: Free

OK, this lecture is a bit more technical than most of the talks that we highlight here. But Professor Dan Shechtman is a Nobel prize-winner in Chemistry and his work overturned what had previously been dogma in the field of crystallography. The following article gives you a taste of his work but also gives an insight into the challenging world of scientific research, the passions and personalities involved, the persistence that is required and the sacrifices that sometimes need to be made.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2013/jan/06/dan-shechtman-nobel-prize-chemistry-interview

Tuesday 12 February
Title: Toulouse-Lautrec – Director’s view
Time: 12:45pm
Venue: Fairfax theatre, National Gallery of Australia
Cost: Free (but entry charges apply for the exhibition)

Director of the NGA, Ron Radford, will give a talk about his latest blockbuster exhibition. There are a number of talks and other events in February about the Toulouse-Lautrec exhibition. Check out the NGA’s website for details:
http://nga.gov.au/calendar/

Henri de TOULOUSE-LAUTREC | Reine de Joie [Queen of Pleasure]

Tuesday 12 February
Title: The hallmarks of cancer
Time: 5:30 – 6:15pm
Venue: Finkel lecture theatre, John Curtin School of Medical Research, ANU
Cost: Free, registration required
http://jcsmr.anu.edu.au/News-events/17jan2013/jcsmr-public-lecture-hallmarks-cancer-organizing-principle-considering

Based on his decades of research, Doug Hanahan - Director of the Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research – has proposed that all cancers share a set of characteristic features. For example, they all seem to be resistant to natural growth suppressors, they evade normal cell death (see Prof Cory’s lecture above), they induce angiogenesis (the growth of blood vessels) and they undergo invasion of other tissues. Dr Hanahan will discuss these ideas and what they might suggest about how to develop and test potential therapies.

Thursday 14 February
Title: Tasmania – the Tipping Point?
Time: 6:00pm
Venue: Paperchain bookstore, Manuka
Cost: Free, registration required

For those of you with an interest in the great state of Tasmania, the odd goings-on down there and the occasional surprising cultural, scientific or social policy development, come along to the launch of the latest edition of the Griffith Review which features slices of the island-state’s past and present to give an indication of where its future might lie. The co-editor of the publication will be at the launch: Natasha Cica from the Inglis Clark Centre for Civil Society at the University of Tasmania. Peter Whish-Wilson, who is an environmental campaigner, owner of a vineyard and an economist as well as Senator from Tasmania, will do the launching.

Friday 15 February
Title: But once in a history: Canberra’s foundation stones and naming ceremonies
Time: 12:15 – 1:15pm
Venue: Senate theatre, Parliament House
Cost: Free
http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Senate/Public_Information_and_Events/occalect/flyers/2013/But_once_in_a_history_Canberras_foundation_stones

Most Australians think they know why Canberra was selected to be the capital city of the newly federated country a hundred years ago – as a compromise between the two feuding large cities, Sydney and Melbourne. However, the reality is a lot more complex and interesting than that. Dr David Headon will reveal what he knows in this talk. He is currently curator of an exhibition at Parliament House on the centenary of Canberra.

Thursday 21 February
Title: Security Council mandates and the use of lethal force by peace-keepers
Time: 6:00 - 7:00pm
Venue: Sparke Helmore Theatre, ANU College of Law
Cost: Free, registration required
http://law.anu.edu.au/sit...ts/pl_white.pdf

In some recent conflicts, international peace-keepers have been criticised for their failure to protect civilians and to safeguard the peace process. This has been the case even when mandates from the UN Security Council have authorised – or even required – peace-keepers to use lethal force. Nigel D White - Professor of Public International Law at the University of Nottingham and author of several books and journal articles on international security – will explore the reasons for this gap, particularly the international legal framework on which Security Council mandates are based.

Wednesday 27 February
Title: Happiness for people who can’t stand positive thinking
Time: 6:00 - 7:00pm
Venue: Manning Clark Centre, ANU
Cost: Free, registration required
http://billboard.anu.edu.au/event_view.asp?id=97757

For a species so fixated on achieving happiness, humans seem very bad at it. Oliver Burkeman is the author of the best-selling book “The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking”. He points out that we’re not even particularly clear about what we mean by happiness and he is very sceptical about self-help books. In his book he has turned to a diverse range of fields for answers - psychology and comparative religion, terrorism experts, business and philosophy – and concluded that positive thinking is in fact part of the problem. Instead he argues we have to embrace failure, pessimism, insecurity and uncertainty.

Read a review of “The Antidote” here:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/jun/22/the-antidote-oliver-burkeman-review?INTCMP=SRCH

 

* The information on this site is drawn from the websites of various institutions. The web addresses are supplied. Check the websites to confirm details.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

DECEMBER 2012

Highlights of last month

Unfortunately, the editors of Canberra Brain Food weren’t able to attend all of the great talks and seminars last month but the highlights were again in the field of law and justice. Former High Court judge Michael Kirby spoke engagingly and reflectively in the relaxed environment of the gardens at Manning Clark’s old house in the suburb of Forrest. And Prof Anne Twomey of Sydney Law School gave an amazing (and entertaining) display of wide-ranging scholarship at her talk at the High Court itself.

This month

As usual, Canberra begins its summer indolence in December as thoughts turn away from lofty topics towards the pleasures of the beach, Christmas parties and falling asleep while watching interminable cricket matches. Nevertheless, there are still several interesting events to look forward to as set out below. It is also time to start looking forward to the many and varied events planned in 2013 for the celebration of Canberra’s centenary. You can begin planning your involvement at the following site:

Monday 3 December 2012
Title: 2012 Reflections lecture – Dr Bob Brown
Time: 5:30 – 6:30pm
Venue: Crawford Building, ANU
Cost: Free, registration required

Bob Brown practised as a medical doctor, became a leader of Tasmania’s environmental movement, was elected to the federal Senate and became the leader of the Greens Party. In 2012, he retired from politics and he is an ideal person to give this year’s Reflections lecture at the ANU’s Crawford School of Public Policy. This annual lecture has become an outstanding event on Canberra’s calendar with prominent former politicians giving a thoughtful analysis of their time in politics, the achievements and disappointments and the trends that they see shaping the future directions of this country.


Wednesday 5 December
Title: Can today’s corporation deliver tomorrow’s economy?
Time: 5:15 – 6:30pm
Venue: Crawford Building, ANU
Cost: Free, registration required

Pavan Sukhdev is a creative and therefore provocative thinker about the nexus between environmental and economic concerns and about how we can overcome the notion that we must necessarily engage in a trade-off between the two. Can we create a Green Economy, one that improves human well-being and social equity while also reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. What role can corporations – often portrayed as the bad guys in this story – play in bringing about this vision.

Mr Sukhdev is visiting fellow at Yale University as well as founder and CEO of his own consultancy firm. He led the United Nations Environment Program Green Economy Initiative and was the lead author of its report ‘Towards a Green Economy.’ You can read some of his recent articles at:

Thursday 6 December
Title: Type 1a supernovae, the accelerating universe and dark energy
Time: 12:00 - 1:00pm
Venue: Huxley Theatre, ANU
Cost: Free, registration required

Canberra’s latest Nobel laureate, astrophysicist Prof Brian Schmidt continues his post-award public speaking engagements. Come and learn how the explosion of stars is used by scientists to measure distances in the universe, how this led to the discovery of the universe’s expansion and how scientists explain this expansion through the existence of ‘dark energy’.

Prof Schmidt is a wonderful speaker who can explain the frontiers of astrophysical research and speculation in a clear and exciting way.

Monday 10 December
Title: Unleashing the use of force
Time: 5:00 - 6:30pm
Venue: Hedley Bull Centre, ANU
Cost: Free, registration required

Covert killings by the agents of one state in the territory of other states are regular features to the point where the legality of events such as the assassination of Osama Bin Laden draws little comment. But how do we reconcile such actions - or the ‘targeted strikes’ carried out using unmanned aerial drones - with our professed adherence to the rule of law? What constraints do we recognise? Is there any distinction between what military forces may do and what we allow in the name of ‘covert operations’? Prof Philip Alston is currently NYU’s Center for Human Rights and Global Justice. He has previously held positions in universities around the world (including at ANU) as well as positions as an adviser to various United Nations bodies.


* The information on this site is drawn from the websites of various institutions. The web addresses are supplied. Check the websites to confirm details.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

NOVEMBER 2012


Highlights of last month

The editors of Canberra Brain Food loved the talk by Prof George Williams in October. Prof Williams combines scholarly understanding of the intricacies of Australia’s constitution with a passion for reform and social justice. What made his talk exceptional however was the setting – the former chamber of the House of Representatives in Canberra’s Old Parliament House. While it won’t capture the ambience, the full transcript of the talk is available at:

On the theme of constitutional reform, Prof Megan Davis spoke at the ANU last month about her work to consult with the public about proposed changes to the constitution to recognise Australia’s indigenous people and remove discriminatory provisions. Prof Davis’ talk was particularly effective in describing how different people in very different circumstances became involved in the consultations and expressed the importance to them of meaningful reform. You can watch the talk here:

Next month

November has an amazing selection of talks on all manner of subjects (see below). For those looking for even more things to do, the Canberra Film Festival is on. This event seems to get better each year and the program includes award-winning films from around the world screened at a variety of locations around town:

Friday 2 November
Title: Book talk – Uncommon Soldier
Time: 12:30 – 1:45pm
Venue: National Library
Cost: $10

Chris Masters is one of Australia’s foremost investigative journalists having been one of the longest-serving reporters on the Four Corners program. In his latest book, he looks beyond the myths to analyse the character of the modern Australian soldier and the roles they play - war fighter, peacekeeper, diplomat and aid worker. Masters has apparently been given rare access into the life of the Australian ‘digger’ and examines how they are selected, trained and organised as well as giving an insider’s perspective of their day-to-day lives.

Monday 5 November
Title: Out and about in the universe
Time: 6:00pm
Venue: Australian Academy of Science, Shine Dome, Gordon Street, ANU
Cost: Free, registration required

Distances in the Universe may seem intimidating to most people – even beyond comprehension. Using recent, cutting-edge images, animation and the results of his own research, Professor Richard de Grijs will lead you through the cosmic distance scale, from our own Earth to the neighbouring planets, the nearest stars, our own Milky Way galaxy, and beyond, to the nearest as well as more distant galaxies, and the edge of the observable Universe. Should be an enjoyable ride!

Prof de Grijs is Professor of Astrophysics at Peking University, China, and scientific editor of The Astrophysical Journal. He recently spoke at the Sydney Ideas festival (where you would have had to pay $20 to hear him).


Monday 12 November
Title: Smart Justice: the way forward
Time: 1:00 -2:00pm
Venue: Pilgrim House, 69 Northbourne, Ave, Canberra City
Cost: Free, registration required

Peggy Hora, retired judge of the California Superior Court, has written extensively on issues including substance abuse,-domestic violence, drug treatment, cultural competence and ‘therapeutic jurisprudence’ (a view of the court as an interdisciplinary, problem-solving, community institution). In 2010, Judge Hora was appointed as an Adelaide Thinker in Residence. In this role she explored innovative and alternative options to the traditional courtroom as a means to improve access to justice, reduce criminal offending, resolve civil disputes more efficiently and effectively, improve safety and wellbeing and increase public trust and confidence in the judiciary.-He report can be viewed here: http://www.thinkers.sa.gov.au/lib/pdf/hora/smartjustice_lo.pdf

Monday 12 November
Title: Book launch – ‘Don’t go back to where you came from’
Time: 7:30pm
Venue: Smith’s Alternative Bookshop, Alinga Street
Cost: Free, registration required

Dr Tim Soutphommasane is one of Australia’s most interesting political philosophers and commentators. He lectures at Monash University's National Centre for Australian Studies and at the Graduate School of Government in the University of Sydney and you can read his regular column in The Age newspaper at: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/by/Tim-Soutphommasane

One of Dr Southphomassane’s abiding interests is the particular characteristics of Australia’s diverse society and the challenges facing policies to promote ‘multiculturalism’. At this event, Australia’s finance minister, Senator Penny Wong, will launch his latest book, “Don't go back to where you came from: why multiculturalism works”.

Tuesday 13 November
Title: Book talk – Eureka the unfinished revolution
Time: 10:00 – 12:00
Venue: National Library Australia
Cost: $10

Broadcaster and best-selling author Peter FitzSimons’ latest book is about one of the landmark events in Australian history, the Eureka Stockade, which is seen by historians as a landmark event in the development of Australian democracy and national identity. In simple terms, the ‘rebellion’ arose when in 1854 workers in the goldfields resisted the imposition of licenses and the associated license fees. But the reality of those events was much more complex.

Tuesday 13 November
Title: National Gallery – annual lecture
Time: 6:00pm
Venue: National Gallery
Cost: $20, booking required

Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, will present the first memorial lecture in honour of Robert Hughes.

Wednesday 14 November
Title: The Unrecognised Reserve Powers
Time: 6:00pm
Venue: High Court of Australia
Cost: Free, booking required

Talks at the High Court of Australia are always a highlight. They line up some of Australia’s finest legal scholars to present the lectures with the full bench of the High Court attending. After the talk, you can join the students, academics and members of the public to share a glass of wine and a chat with Chief Justice French and his crew. In what other country can you do that? The November talk will be presented by Prof Anne Twomey of Sydney Law School and will focus on the so-called reserve powers (i.e., powers vested in the head of state that are exercised independent of ministers and the parliament). A fine article by Prof Twomey is at: http://theconversation.edu.au/bringing-down-the-house-keeping-school-chaplains-means-a-surrender-to-the-executive-7926

Wednesday 14 November
Title: Diplomatic protection of Australians abroad
Time: 6:00 – 7:00pm
Venue: Coombs Building, Fellows Road, ANU
Cost: Free, registration required

It seems that one hears more and more that “the Australian Government is providing consular assistance” to Australian citizens who have found themselves in trouble overseas – because they get caught up in natural disasters, traffic accidents, international conflicts or are the subject of charges such as drug smuggling, bribery and corruption or terrorist activity. Names such as Schapelle Corby, David Hicks, Julian Assange and Stern Hu have been very prominent in the media. But what does “consular assistance” mean, what is its legal basis, what can it really deliver, what are our expectations of our diplomatic representatives to provide such assistance and how do we expect them to meet these expectations for every Australian abroad in even the most remote or war-torn places? Don Rothwell, Professor of International Law at the ANU will discuss these issues.

Thursday 15 November
Title: Book talk – After Love
Time: 6:00pm
Venue: Asia Book Room, Lawry Place, Macquarie
Cost: Free, registration required

In the mood for romance? Come and hear local novelist Subhash Jaireth talk about his latest book.

Tuesday 20 November
Title: Justice in Australia – and no Bill of Rights in sight
Time: 5:30pm
Venue: Manning Clark House, 11 Tasmania Circle, Forrest
Cost: $20 for non members, booking required

When he retired in 2009, Michael Kirby was Australia's longest-serving judge at the High Court. During his time in the court, he became known for his dissenting opinions – often delivered in passionate language (his opinion in the Al-Kateb case is a classic) - where he took a fierce approach to human rights and civil liberties. It promises to be a real highlight to hear Justice Kirby in the pleasant and relaxed surroundings of Manning Clark’s historic home expounding on the nature of justice in Australia and the prospects for a bill of rights.

Wednesday 21 November
Title: International Crime and Punishment – 10th Anniversary of the Rome Statute
Time: 6:00 – 7:30pm
Venue: Hedley Bull Centre, ANU
Cost: Free

The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court came into force on 1 July 2002. 121 states are now party to the Statute and the Court recently delivered its first judgment in the case of the Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga (See : http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/2012/jul/10/icc-sentences-thomas-lubanga-14-years). It is therefore an appropriate time to evaluate the effectiveness of the Court as a vehicle for the enforcement of international law, the extent to which it has lived up to the aspirations of its proponents and the future of the ICC and international criminal law more generally. And there could be few better to lead the discussion than Tim McCormack, Professor at the Melbourne Law School and Special Adviser on International Humanitarian Law to the prosecutor of the ICC in The Hague. Prof McCormack will be joined by Geoff Skillen who is currently the Chair of Australian Red Cross’ National International Humanitarian Law Committee and was a member of the Australian delegation to the 1998 Rome conference that adopted the Statute of the ICC.

Thursday 22 November
Title: Timor-Leste and the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States
Time: 12:30 – 2:00pm
Venue: JG Crawford Building, ANU
Cost: Free, registration required

Timor-Leste (or East Timor), gained its independence in 2002 after a violent independence struggle and is one of the poorest countries in the world. What then are its prospects for growth, social development and stability? And what are the lessons of its experience that may be applied to other so-called fragile states? Can they take the lead in shaping their own destinies or must they remain at the mercy of powerful neighbouring states, aid donors and the NGO community? Emilia Pires should have some fascinating insights into these questions. She has been Finance Minister of Timor-Leste since April 2007 and is a member of the High-level Panel advising the United Nations Secretary-General on the global development agenda.

Saturday 24 November
Title: Republican Reset: The lessons of history and the way ahead
Time: 6:00pm
Venue: Wesley Music Centre, Barton
Cost: Free

In this annual lecture of the Australian Republican Movement, Associate Professor James Curran of the Department of History at the University of Sydney will discuss how the national conversation about a constitutional republic in Australia can be revitalised by harnessing a shared sense of community along with a new and more inclusive narrative of the nation. Prof Curran regularly appears on Radio National where he presents on forgotten aspects of Australian history. Here’s a recent segment:

Sunday 25 November
Title: Book launch – Flying the Southern Cross
Time: 2:30 – 4:30pm
Venue: National Library
Cost: Free, registration required

Australian aviators were at the forefront of pioneering aircraft travel an example of which is the first trans-Pacific flight made by Charles Kingsford Smith and Charles Ulm in 1928 in the ‘Southern Cross’ - an aircraft constructed largely of timber and fabric. They made the trip from Oakland, California, to Brisbane in nine days using primitive navigational aids and after facing electrical storms, torrential rain, equipment breakdowns, fuel shortages and the constant fear of engine failure. Using logbook entries, the airmen’s memoirs, contemporary newspaper accounts and official documents, supplemented by a range of historic photographs, historian Michael Molkentin provides an account of the epoch-making flight and its aftermath.

 

Monday 26 November
Title: Fifty Shades of Brown – 2012 Reconciliation Lecture
Time: 6:00 – 7:00pm
Venue: National Film and Sound Archive
Cost: Free, registration required

Alison Page - designer, cultural planner and member of the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples – will deliver the 2012 ANU Reconciliation Lecture. Ms Page is a firm believer that vibrant aboriginal cultures and the values that go along with them are not only important to aboriginal people but that they are also vital to the national reconciliation process and to our understanding of Australia’s national identity. You can see an expression of this approach in the work of the Saltwater-Freshwater Arts Alliance of which Ms Page is the Executive Officer.

Tuesday 27 November
Title: Australia 1942 – In the Shadow of War
Time: 4:30 – 6:00pm
Venue: Parliament House
Cost: Free, registration required

For Australians, 1942 is the year when the Second World War became more than a faraway event in Europe and North Africa. Singapore fell to the Japanese in February that year with many Australians killed, evacuated or taken prisoner. Darwin was bombed not long after. Prime Minister Curtin decided to bring Australian divisions back from North Africa to Australia, much to the annoyance of Churchill. Later that year there was the Kokoda track campaign and the battle of Milne Bay in New Guinea.

The new book “Australia 1942”, edited by Peter Dean, brings together Japanese and Australian historians to offer their perspectives on these and other events. Australia’s Foreign Minister Senator Bob Carr will launch the book at Parliament House.

Wednesday 28 November
Title: Australia in war and peace, 1914-19
Time: 4:30pm
Venue: National Archives, Queen Victoria Terrace, Parkes
Cost: Free, booking required

Dr Jatinder Mann will introduce the main features and the extensive work involved in a joint project between the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies, King's College London, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia that will culminate in the publication of Documents on Australian Foreign Policy on War and Peace 1914–19.

Dr Mann is from the Menzies Centre where, apart from military history, his interests include colonial history and comparative experiences in multicultural policy.


* The information on this site is drawn from the websites of various institutions. The web addresses are supplied. Check the websites to confirm details.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

OCTOBER 2012

One of the highlights of September was attending an event at which U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey Bleich presented Anne Gallagher with a ‘hero’ award for her work in combating human trafficking. The talks are enlightening but best of all was the reading by the singer Kamahl of the Gettysburg address to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation (starts at about 12 minutes 30 seconds at the following link).


Tuesday 2 October
Title: Resolving the conflict between agriculture and mining over prime land on the Liverpool Plains
Time: 6:00pm
Venue: Australian Academy of Science, Shine Dome
Cost: Free, registration required

The Liverpool Plains in the Northwest of New South Wales is often referred to as Australia’s food bowl, but beneath its highly-productive soils are rich deposits of coal and coal seam gas worth many billions of dollars. This lecture by Independent Member of Parliament, Tony Windsor, MP, will provide an overview of the conflicting interests of agriculture and mining in sensitive landscapes such as the Liverpool Plains, and will consider the challenges facing the planning system to minimise the risk of permanently damaging our best land.

Tuesday 2 October
Title: If Mother Nature Could Sue: Wild Law and the Rights of Nature
Time: 6:00 – 8:30pm
Venue: Spark Helmore Lecture Theatre, College of Law, Fellows Rd, ANU
Cost: Free, registration required

What if ecosystems, rivers, plants and other living creatures had legal rights? By giving nature legal status, rather than dismissing it as an unfortunate externality, its interests could compete with those of corporations and human communities. Could such a concept of ‘wild law’ really work and what might it mean for how we see ourselves and our place in the world? Cormac Cullinan will explore these and other ideas that he first wrote about in his book, “Wild Law: A Manifesto for Earth Justice”. Here’s a taste of what Cullinan has to say: http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/500/

Tuesday 9 October
Title: Managing the world’s most precious resource: Australia's leadership in creating a new discipline
Time: 6:00 – 7:00pm
Venue: Haydon Allen Lecture Theatre, The Tank, Copland Courtyard, ANU
Cost: Free, registration required

Management of Australia’s scarce water resources has been a major preoccupation as long as there have been people in this country. It has re-emerged as a highly-charged political issue over the last ten years. Coming out of this, however, have been important developments in the reporting of water and the rights to it and, in a world first, Australia is set to publish a water accounting standard to ensure consistency across entities and time. Might Australia’s progress in this field set a standard for a new discipline that the rest of the world might follow? Professor Jayne Godfrey is Dean of the College of Business and Economics at The Australian National University and has been one of the leaders in developing the new standard.

Wednesday 10 October
Title: In the Footsteps of Jeannie Gunn
Time: 6:00 – 7:30pm
Venue: Friends Lounge, National Museum of Australia
Cost: $12, booking required

National Museum of Australia curator Anne-Marie Conde will examine the work of Jeannie Gunn, author of the famous Australian books ‘The Little Black Princess’ (1905) and ‘We of the Never Never’ (1908). The original diary that Gunn kept while at Elsey Station in the Northern Territory is on loan to the Museum and on display in its Landmarks gallery. Ms Conde did a research trip to Elsey Station earlier this year looking into how Gunn drew on her diary while writing the books.

Thursday 11 October
Title: The nature of time
Time: 6:00 – 7:00pm
Venue: The Finkel Lecture Theatre, John Curtin School of Medical Research, ANU
Cost: Free, registration required

Time is a concept familiar to us for it affects all aspects of everybody’s life. Despite this, and the fact that the laws of physics incorporate time as an essential feature, time itself remains a mystery. The significance of gaining an understanding about time goes to the core of human existence, perception, and our desire to understand ourselves and the universe that we inhabit. In this lecture, Dr Peter Riggs of the ANU’s Department of Quantum Science will discuss the latest research into the characteristics of time and our current understanding about it.


Sunday 14 October
Title: Stories from Ancient India
Time: 2:00pm
Venue: Temporary exhibitions gallery, National Gallery of Australia
Cost: Free

Kiran Shah will bring to life the paintings in the ‘Divine Worlds’ exhibition at the Gallery by telling the stories of Hindu gods and other ancient tales from India. There are a range of talks and other events taking place at the Gallery in connection with this exhibition. See link above for more details.

Thursday 18 October
Title: Managing the Parliament House landscape with biological controls
Time: 12:30pm
Venue: Australian National Botanic Gardens Theatre
Cost: Free

Who would have thought Parliament House would need a pest management program (except one that eradicates some of the pests on the back-benches and in the press gallery)? But if you’ve walked in the gardens that surround the building, you’ll be aware there are large and diverse areas of vegetation that provide homes to many species of birds and other fauna. Paul Janssens will describe the biological control methods, such as releasing predator insects, that are utilised to control the pest insects.

Tuesday 23 October
Title: Book talk – The Great Race
Time: 12:30 – 2:30pm
Venue: National Library of Australia
Cost: Free, registration required

The maritime and overland exploration of Australia by Europeans contains many great stories. Stories of unbelievable coincidences, tragic near-misses, extraordinary encounters with local people and amazing navigational feats. Among these stories, the near-simultaneous circumnavigation of the continent in 1801-02 by the English and the French – under the command of Mathew Flinders and Nicholas Baudin respectively – ranks among the most dramatic. And the legacy of their voyages remains in the myriad names of features along the Australian coastline and of the flora and fauna. Historian David Hill has written about these voyages in his latest book.

Wednesday 24 October
Title: Mission impossible? Achieving social justice through constitutional change
Time: 5:30 – 7:30pm
Venue: Museum of Australian Democracy (Old Parliament House)
Cost: Free, registration required

Professor George Williams is one of Australia’s leading constitutional lawyers. He is the Anthony Mason Professor at the Faculty of Law, University of New South Wales. His newspaper articles on constitutional law issues are always illuminating (http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/by/george-williams). In this year’s Henry Parkes oration, Professor Williams will examine the profound and long-term effect that Australia’s Constitution has on the nation and our quality of life. This leads to one of Prof Williams’ abiding concerns – how constitutional change can be used to achieve social justice in areas such as health, education, environmental protection and Aboriginal justice.

Wednesday 24 October
Title: Book talk - Speechless
Time: 6:00pm
Venue: Paperchain Bookstore, Manuka
Cost: Free, registration required

‘Speechless’ is journalist James Button’s personal account of the year he spent working as a speech-writer for former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Button has politics in his blood: his father was revered Labor Party Senator John Button, who was a minister in the Hawke and Keating governments. Publication of the book has caused some consternation in official circles (http://www.canberratimes.com.au/national/book-on-rudd-draws-criticism-20120920-2691s.html). But, leaving that aside, it is (at least according to one reviewer) a "beautifully written", "tender and wise" and "brutally honest" book (http://inside.org.au/father-and-sons/).

Thursday 25 October
Title: Book talk – Black Bag Moon
Time: 6:00pm
Venue: Paperchain Bookstore, Manuka
Cost: Free, registration required

Launch of ‘Black Bag Moon: Doctors’ Tales from Dusk to Dawn’ by Susan Woldenberg Butler. The book gives a glimpse inside the lives of GPs around the world as they confront euthanasia, Alzheimer’s Disease, mental disorders and a whole range of other issues.

Tuesday 30 October
Title: Development and human rights – an unsustainable marriage?
Time: 12:30pm
Venue: Sir Roland Wilson Building, ANU
Cost: Free

Professor Sundhya Pahuja will consider current global institutions and the institutions that are being developed in terms of their ability to meet perhaps the two most important challenges that we are facing – environmental sustainability and economic inequality. Sundhya Pahuja is jointly Professor of International Law at the University of Melbourne, and Research Professor in Law at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London. Her most recent book is “Decolonising International Law: Development, Economic Growth and the Politics of Universality”. You can learn about some of Prof Pahuja’s views at the following link (although it might spoil the lecture for you): http://www.themonthly.com.au/international-law-and-its-poor-sundhya-pahuja-2651



* The information on this site is drawn from the websites of various institutions. The web addresses are supplied. Check the websites to confirm details.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

SEPTEMBER 2012

Two of the best talks in Canberra in recent weeks have been by Richard Kingsford on the challenges facing Australia’s river systems and by Prof Brian Schmidt on his Nobel prize-winning investigations on the expansion of the Universe and the nature of dark matter and dark energy. Both are great speakers and exceptionally knowledgeable about their subject-matter. Thankfully, both talks are available on-line: http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/bigideas/eric-rolls-lecture/4187884


Enjoy!

Tuesday 4 September
Title: Buying biodiversity - the role of philanthropy in nature conservation
Time: 6pm
Venue: Shine Dome, Gordon Street
Cost: Free, registration required

Most protection of Australia’s biodiversity occurs on public land, yet two thirds of Australian land is privately managed. Therefore, programs are required to achieve conservation outcomes on private lands. Over the past 20 years, private philanthropy has increasingly played an important role in nature conservation through mechanisms such as land acquisition, conservation covenants, management programs and the creation of other new models for conservation. In this lecture, Michael Looker, Director of the Australia Program at The Nature Conservancy will discuss the role of private philanthropy to achieve significant and lasting outcomes for nature conservation.

Learn more about The Nature Conservancy at: http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/australia/index.htm

Wednesday 5 September
Title: One False Move – book-talk
Time: 6:00pm
Venue: Paperchain bookstore, Manuka
Cost: Free, registration required

Journalist, author and film-maker Robert Macklin will talk about his latest book, ‘One False Move’, about the small number of Australians who – with great bravery and precise skills - worked as mine-defusers during the Second World War. Australians like Leon Goldsworthy who specialised in underwater defusing, often by touch alone, and worked out how to defuse the K mine, and so made possible the neutralising of the German mine defences before the invasion of Normandy.

Thursday 6 September

Title: Chronology of the first few hundred million years of the Solar System

Time: 12:00 – 1:00pm
Venue: Leonard Huxley lecture theatre, Research School of Physics, ANU
Cost: Free

The stable elements known to us in nature were all made in stars over the whole history of the Universe. Radioactive nuclides on the other hand, can serve as geochemical clocks for events such as the formation of planets and their satellites and this allows us to revisit the chronology of our own solar system. Professor Michael Paul from the Hebrew University in Israel will explain.

Thursday 6 September
Title: Early Warning of Critical Transitions in Nature and Society
Time: 1:00 – 2:00pm
Venue: Fenner Seminar Room Building 141 Linnaeus Way ANU
Cost: Free

A wide variety of systems in nature and society – including fisheries, coral reefs, productive farmland, planetary climate, neural activity in the brain, and financial markets – are known to be susceptible to sudden changes leading to drastic re-organization or collapse. In this talk, Dr Steve Lade of the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems in Germany will look at how methods from physics, mathematics and statistics can provide early warning signals that are complementary to existing approaches.

Monday 10 September
Title: Sentinel chickens: what birds can tell us about our health and world – book-talk
Time: 6:00 -7:00pm
Venue: Theatre 1 Manning Clark Centre, Union Court, ANU
Cost: Free

Birds pollinate, spread plant seeds and control insects Studying birds has also helped us to understand the nature of human cancer, malaria and influenza and contributed to the development of new vaccines and other cures. In his new book ‘Sentinel Chickens’, Nobel prize-winner Peter Doherty argues that since birds continually sample the atmosphere, oceans, fields and forests, they signal toxic and environmental dangers that threaten all vertebrates. Therefore, endangering their habitats through human activities is a threat to our own wellbeing. Prof Doherty earned the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine in 1996 for his pioneering research at ANU into human immune systems.


Tuesday 11 September
Title: The Coast (A Journey along Australia’s Eastern Shores) – book-talk
Time: 6:00pm
Venue: Paperchain bookstore, Manuka
Cost: Free, registration required

Print and TV journalist Chris Hammer will talk about his latest book ‘Coast’, a celebration of the Australian seascape, from the Torres Strait to Tasmania, and those who live beside it.

Wednesday 12 September
Title: Gods, devils and alcohol: their influence in chemical nomenclature
Time: 5:30 – 6:30pm
Venue: Arthur Hambly Lecture Theatre, Building 34, ANU
Cost: Free

Dr Peter Wothers takes us back to the era when chemists put on shows for the public and demonstrated the latest chemical advances in spectacular demonstrations. This first in a series of events is based around the composition of everyday shampoo and explores the often-convoluted history behind the names of the chemical ingredients. After this lecture, you will know what connects a urinating camel to a spiral fossil; what is the significance of a birthing rat; how did Egyptian eyeliner make people drunk, but amethyst kept them sober; and in which brands of shampoo you can find 'Fooles Bolloxe' and 'beaver testicles!

Dr Wothers is Director of Studies in Chemistry at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge. He also sits on the Committee for the Chemistry Olympiad for the Royal Society of Chemistry and has spent the past ten years passing on his knowledge and enthusiasm for Science to a wider audience. You can watch some of his demonstrations on You Tube.


Thursday 13 September
Title: A View from the Botanic Gardens – 200 years ago
Time: 12:30pm
Venue: Australian National Botanic Gardens
Cost: Free

Peter White will lead a discussion of how Aboriginal people may have lived for more than 25,000 years, how they obtained their living from the environment and the traces of their lives that can still be seen in the urban landscape of Canberra.

Friday 14 September (repeated Saturday 15 September at 2:00pm)
Title: Gods, devils and alcohol: their influence in chemical nomenclature
Time: 7:00 – 8:00 pm
Venue: Arthur Hambly Lecture Theatre, Building 34, ANU
Cost: Free

Dr Peter Wothers takes us back to the era when chemists put on shows for the public and demonstrated the latest chemical advances in spectacular demonstrations. This second in a series of events explores the properties of the most reactive metals in the periodic table - the Alkali Metals. Starting with an examination of their atomic structure and how this relates to the reactions they undergo, every concept is illustrated with dynamic, often explosive demonstrations!

Dr Wothers is Director of Studies in Chemistry at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge. He also sits on the Committee for the Chemistry Olympiad for the Royal Society of Chemistry and has spent the past ten years passing on his knowledge and enthusiasm for Science to a wider audience. You can watch some of his demonstrations on You Tube.

Tuesday 18 September
Title: Politics, public policy and a noisy environment
Time: 6:00 – 7:00pm
Venue: John Curtin School of Medical Research, Garran Road, ANU
Cost: Free, registration required

Steve Dovers coined the term 'policy ad hocery and amnesia' to describe politics and public policy and public and media behaviour in Australia but he thinks we can do better by learning from the Australian environment. The Australian environment challenged European comprehension and settlers are only now beginning to appreciate its complexity and the amazing ways in which our flora and fauna co-exist, adapt and thrive in an environment of variability and change.

Prof Dovers is Director of the Fenner School of Environment and Society at the ANU and Co-convenor of the National Institute for Rural and Regional Australia. His books include Environment and sustainability policy and the Handbook of disaster and emergency institutions and policies.

Thursday 20 September
Title: Rabbit Control – past, present and future
Time: 12:30pm
Venue: Australian National Botanic Gardens
Cost: Free

If you think this topic sounds dull and academic, the introduction of rabbits, their impact on the environment and agriculture, and the scientific and other approaches that have been tried to control them have had a huge impact on the development of Australia and our relationship to our country. Dr Peter Kerr of the CSIRO will be a highly-qualified person to talk about this. 

 


Friday 28 September
Title: The scope of executive power
Time: 12:15 1:15pm
Venue: Senate theatre, Australian Parliament House
Cost: Free

In Australia, the relative powers of the executive and the parliament are ill-defined and it is not entirely clear when the government can act without parliamentary authority. See what you make of this – section 61 of the Constitution says “The executive power of the Commonwealth is vested in the Queen and is exercisable by the Governor-General as the Queen's representative, and extends to the execution and maintenance of this Constitution, and of the laws of the Commonwealth.” Successive governments have taken advantage of the uncertainty to expand the authority of the executive and – given the Westminster style of government in which the executive by definition has the support of the legislature – this expansion has often taken place with the compliance of parliament. The main source of challenge has instead come from the High Court, for example in the recent school chaplains case.

Who better to explain the implications of this state of affairs for our notions of representative democracy, federalism, separation of powers and the rule of law than Cheryl Saunders, one of Australia’s foremost constitutional law experts, laureate professor at the University of Melbourne and the founding director of its Centre for Comparative Constitutional Studies (and a very good speaker to boot)?

* The information on this site is drawn from the websites of various institutions. The web addresses are supplied. Check the websites to confirm details.