Ideas Exchange

Thinking critically about the big ideas that shape our everyday.

Ideas Exchange (formerly the Woollahra School of Philosophy) is a series of quarterly forums aimed to encourage informed community discussion and a robust exchange of ideas between scholars, pioneering minds and the local community. This initiative is about fostering philosophical and ethical conversation at the community level, covering a variety of relevant topics.

Topics explored in the past include; the moral challenge of climate change, death and dying, artificial intelligence, and freedom of speech.


Celebrating Queer Australia

Watch our panel, moderated by journalist and author Jason Om, as we reflect on and celebrate the rich life of Sydney’s Queer community during Sydney WorldPride 2023.

Panellists include pre-eminent Australian photographer William Yang, writer, performance artist and art critic Fiona Kelly McGregor, and author, director and producer Cadance Bell.

Mental Health and Resilience

Watch our panel moderated by Michaela Kalowski, as we examine a topic that influences all of us - mental health.

One in five Australians had a mental health disorder during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, including 3.3 million people with anxiety disorders. Nearly two in five of those aged 16 to 24 had a mental health disorder in 2020-21.*

Why is anxiety sweeping through the nation at unprecedented rates across all segments of the community? What are the challenges that are affecting the mental health of Australians - young and old? And how can we as a society support them better?

Panellists include Dr Zac Seidler (Director of Mental Health Training at Movember), Professor Helen Christensen (Board Member and Former Executive Director/Chief Scientist, Black Dog Institute) and Professor Caroline Hunt (Academic lead of the Clinical Psychology Unit at the University of Sydney, specialising in Youth Mental Health).

*As reported by Sydney Morning Herald 22/07/22

International Women’s Day: Break the Bias

In celebration of International Women's Day 2022, listen to a panel discussion featuring Kate McClymont, Dr Melissa Kang and Rudi Bremer and moderated by Michaela Kalowski, recognising the creativity, innovation and impact of women in the community.

International Women's Day is a chance to pause and take stock of how women's contributions are seen; it's an opportunity to value the diversity and perspective that women bring to all levels and aspects of life. How might we all challenge bias and stereotypes pervasive amongst us and our society about the role and equality of women?

The Power of Storytelling

Telling stories and seeing stories in everything is a deeply human trait. Neuroscientist Beau Lotto says the world we perceive is not actually the world itself - it is our own story of the world, based on our knowledge and what we have learned from others. "Stories are our powerful means of navigating a sometimes shocking or uncertain world...and finding our place in it." So what can master storytellers, and people who listen to stories all day, help us understand about the uses of stories and how the way we tell them shapes our reality and informs our choices?

Racism: Bridging Difference in a Pandemic World

One in five people living in Australia has experienced racist abuse*. The pandemic has shown deep cracks and inequality in our society, and has been the framework for a steep rise in xenophobia and racist attacks.

In a multicultural country like Australia, and in a world redefined by covid-19, how is racism evolving? How far has Australia come in recognising racism and developing responses to it? And what are different communities doing to combat it?

In this timely conversation, moderated by Michaela Kalowski, community and industry leaders will share insights from their work about how they bridge differences between groups and how people can stand up to racism and prejudice.


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Addiction today is epidemic. We can be, and are, addicted to everything in front of us. From drugs and alcohol to gambling; to online shopping and checking our social media.

Have we been thinking about addiction all wrong? Whose brains have we been studying? Is there a ‘cure’ for addiction and what might it look like? Join Michaela Kalowski as she speaks with two world-leading thinkers - Judith Grisel and Adam Alter on the topic of addiction.

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Ethical Consumerism

Can we shop our way to a better world? There is growing pressure to make sure we are buying products that are not harmful to the environment or society.

Michaela Kalowski along with Matthew Kearnes and Judy Friedlander discuss this curly topic in light of our current collective experience living through a pandemic.

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