Speaking with...

The Conversation's 'Speaking with' podcast
Ideas and analysis from the sharpest minds in the academic and research world.

Latest Episodes

Speaking with: Emrys Westacott on the virtue of frugal living

Speaking with: Emrys Westacott on the virtue of frugal living. CC BY-ND32.9 MB (download)

They say the best things in life are free – or at least, Emrys Westacott seems to think so. For those who have the choice, the rejection of extravagance is deemed highly virtuous. Many of the great thinkers of history have advocated the moral value of frugal living, but in our culture of excess the temptation to indulge can be difficult to overcome. William Isdale spoke with Emrys Westacott, a Professor…

2 Hosts: William Isdale and Emrys Westacott

Speaking with: Bates Gill on Australia's changing relationship with China

Speaking with: Professor Bates Gill on Australia’s changing relationship with China. The Conversation, CC BY-ND36.5 MB (download)

During Xi Jinping's opening address at the Communist Party's 19th National Party Congress last week, the Chinese president outlined his vision of a "new era" for China – one that will see "China moving closer to centre stage". China's economic and foreign policies have significant implications for Australia. More than 30% of our exports go to China, more than 1 million Chinese tourists visit Australia…

2 Hosts: William Isdale and Bates Gill

Speaking with: Emma Power and Jennifer Kent about why Australian cities and homes aren't built for pets

Speaking with: Emma Power and Jennifer Kent about why Australian cities and homes aren’t built for pets.

We're a nation of pet lovers: 60% of Australian households have some kind of pet. And with dogs in 39% of those homes, it's only natural that we're starting to see dogs sitting happily alongside human diners at places like cafes and pubs. But while we have one of the highest levels of pet ownership in the world, our rights and infrastructure planning don't seem to be built around this reality. No Australian…

3 Hosts: Dallas Rogers, Emma Power, and Jennifer Kent

Speaking with: John Gerrard on preventing infectious diseases

Speaking with: Dr. John Gerrard on infectious diseases. The Conversation, CC BY-ND23.2 MB (download)

The Spanish Flu of 1918 is estimated to have infected around 500 million, and killed between 20 and 40 million, people around the world - all within the space of a year. It is perhaps the deadliest pandemic in human history. We have seen nothing as devastating since, but outbreaks such as influenza, HIV/AIDS, Zika and Ebola highlight that infectious diseases are a constant threat. William Isdale spoke…

2 Hosts: William Isdale and John Gerrard

Speaking with: Nicole Gurran on Airbnb and its impact on cities

Speaking with: Nicole Gurran on Airbnb and its impact on cities.

Airbnb has turned sharing our homes and living spaces with strangers from a fringe idea into a multi-million dollar business. It's changed the way many of us travel. But its growth has turned many suburbs and apartment buildings that are zoned for residential use into hotels, with temporary residents who have no long-term investment in the neighbourhoods they inhabit. In cities like Sydney, Barcelona…

2 Hosts: Dallas Rogers and Nicole Gurran

Speaking with: Nancy Pachana on planning for an active and engaged ageing population

Speaking with: Nancy Pachana on planning for an active and engaged ageing population.

Due to advances in medicine, hygiene and nutrition we are now living longer than ever before. In our region, the percentage of people over the age of 60 doubled in just 20 years - something that took 120 years in Europe and the United States. And while there are definitely losses as we age – fine motor skills and a higher probability of conditions like dementia – there's evidence that for many people…

2 Hosts: William Isdale and Nancy A Pachana

Speaking with: Cameron Murray on grey corruption and the 'Game of Mates'

Speaking with: Cameron Murray on grey corruption and the ‘Game of Mates’

The role of declared gifts and donations has driven a lot of discussion around government corruption in recent years. But what about the clique of developers, banks and superannuation companies who reap the benefits of policies and approvals that preserve monopolies? How do we decide who the winners and losers are in society, without even going into the more obvious acts of money changing hands for…

2 Hosts: William Isdale and Cameron Murray

Speaking with: Dr Mark Blaskovich on antibiotic-resistant bacteria and the threat of superbugs

Speaking with: Dr Mark Blaskovich on antibiotic-resistant bacteria and the threat of superbugs. The Conversation, CC BY-ND45.2 MB (download)

Since the discovery of antibiotics in the mid-20th century, millions of lives have been saved from bacterial infections. But the over-prescription of these drugs has led to some types of bacteria becoming resistant to treatment. It's estimated at least two million people are infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the United States each year. These "superbugs" can spread rapidly and stopping…

2 Hosts: William Isdale and Mark Blaskovich

Speaking with: Julian Savulescu on the ethics of genetic modification in humans

Speaking with: Julian Savulescu on the ethics of genetic modification in humans.

What if humans are genetically unfit to overcome challenges like climate change and the growing inequality that looks set to define our future? Julian Savulescu, visiting professor at Monash University and Uehiro professor of Practical Ethics at Oxford University, argues that modifying the biological traits of humans should be part of the solution to secure a safe and desirable future. The University…

2 Hosts: William Isdale and Julian Savulescu

Speaking with: Professor Peter Koopman on CRISPR and the power of genome editing

Speaking with: Professor Peter Koopman on CRISPR and the power of genome editing.

CRISPR, or clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats, is a technology that is able to alter DNA. While this sounds like the realms of science fiction, right now scientists are investigating its potential to eliminate genetic diseases in humans by repairing or replacing defective genes. The University of Melbourne's William Isdale spoke with Professor Peter Koopman from the University…

2 Hosts: William Isdale and Peter Koopman

Speaking with: Peter Doherty about infectious disease pandemics

Professor Peter Doherty on infectious disease pandemics. The Conversation, CC BY-ND47.6 MB (download)

Humans have had to deal with infectious diseases for centuries. Ancient Greeks and Egyptians suffered from smallpox, leprosy and tuberculosis. And when an outbreak occurs, it can be devastating. Pandemics like the Black Plague, Spanish Flu and HIV have killed millions of people around the world. While improved sanitation and a better understanding of how infections spread has helped halt some pandemics…

2 Hosts: William Isdale and Peter C. Doherty

Speaking with: Tony Kevin on his return to Moscow and the new Cold War with Russia

Speaking with: Tony Kevin on his “Return to Moscow” The Conversation, CC BY-ND41.6 MB (download)

Tony Kevin first went to the Soviet Union in 1969. He was 25 years old and working in the Australian Embassy in Moscow at the peak of the Cold War. Embassy staff were told to be aware that every discussion was probably being recorded, and that they should avoid any interactions with locals. Forty-eight years later he returned to Russia and found a very different country from the one he left. In his…

2 Hosts: William Isdale and Tony Kevin

No problem too big #1: Artificial intelligence and killer robots

No problem too big #1: Artificial intelligence and killer robots. The Conversation, CC BY-SA62 MB (download)

This is the first episode of a special Speaking With podcast series titled No Problem Too Big, where a panel of artists and researchers speculate on the end of the world as though it has already happened. It’s not the world we grew up in. Not since artificial intelligence. The machines have taken control. Three fearless researchers gather in the post-apocalyptic twilight: a computer scientist, a mechanical…

3 Hosts: Adam Hulbert, John Page, and Toby Walsh

Speaking with: Mia Woodruff about using 3D printing to replace body parts

Speaking with: Mia Woodruff about using 3D printing to replace body parts.

3D printing is fundamentally changing the way we make many objects – from construction materials to toys and even food. And being able to 3D-scan the environment, even our own bodies, means that tools and prosthetics that were once mass-produced can now be custom-made for the people they're designed to help, at a low cost. What if one of the most essential items in the hospital of the future is a 3D…

2 Hosts: William Isdale and Mia Woodruff

Speaking with: The Daily Beast's Christopher Dickey on reporting on and living through terrorism in Paris

Speaking with: The Daily Beast’s Christopher Dickey on reporting on and living through terrorism in Paris.

Since the start of 2015, more than 230 people have died in France as the result of terror attacks. Christopher Dickey in a cafe in Paris’ Latin Quarter with Colleen Murrell. Colleen Murrell, Author provided The three major attacks – the shootings at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, the co-ordinated assaults on the night of November 13, 2015, (including the storming of the Bataclan…

1 Host: Colleen Murrell

Speaking with: Peter Green on saving the Christmas Island red crab

Speaking with: Peter Green on saving the Christmas Island red crab.

Every year tens of millions of Christmas Island red crabs migrate from the island's dense forest to the cliffs to spawn. It's a phenomenon that literally stops traffic and draws tourists from around the world to the tiny Australian territory. But while there are still tens of millions of red crabs on the island, in recent years their numbers have dipped by around a third as they compete for space with…

1 Host: Peter Green

Speaking with: Nicole Cook on union 'green bans', housing affordability and the Sirius building

Speaking with: Nicole Cook on union ‘green bans’, housing affordability and the Sirius building.

Sydney's iconic Sirius building was scheduled for demolition by the New South Wales government in 2015. The building – a prominent Australian example of brutalist architecture – contains 79 apartments for public housing tenants, and residents are furious that they are being moved on to make way for 250 luxury apartments at the gateway of the city. But this isn't the first time a NSW government has…

2 Hosts: Dallas Rogers and Nicole Cook

Speaking with: Serial's Julie Snyder about making groundbreaking podcasts

Speaking with: Serial’s Julie Snyder about making groundbreaking podcasts.

By now almost everyone has heard – or heard of – This American Life's blockbuster podcast series Serial. The first series, originally published in 2014, covered the incarceration and possible wrongful conviction of Adnan Syed for the murder of schoolgirl Hae Min Lee in Baltimore. In June this year Syed was granted a new trial for the murder, based at least partially on the renewed scrutiny of the case…

1 Host: Siobhan McHugh

Speaking with: Alanna Kamp about the erasure of Chinese-Australian women from our history books

Speaking with: Alanna Kamp about the erasure of Chinese-Australian women from our history books.

We tend to think of Australia as having a largely European population in the years dominated by the White Australia policy. But the truth is Chinese-Australians have been contributing to our national character since the 1850s. Women – and women from non-European backgrounds in particular – have often been excluded from both research and our historical records thanks to patriarchal attitudes to women's…

2 Hosts: Dallas Rogers and Alanna Kamp

Speaking with: Ilan Wiesel and Ray Forrest about the impact of the super rich on our cities

Speaking with: Ilan Wiesel and Ray Forrest about the impact of the super rich on our cities.

The "1%" – the super elite who hold a disproportionate amount of global wealth – have been the subject of reality TV, protests, media speculation and best-selling books in recent years. Private jets, multi-million-dollar apartments and cars worth the value of most people's homes: these are the symbols we associate with them, but is there really a defining culture of the super rich? And are the extremely…

3 Hosts: Dallas Rogers, Ilan Wiesel, and Ray Forrest

Speaking with: Bad Pharma author Ben Goldacre about how bad research hurts us all

Bad Pharma author Ben Goldacre about how bad research hurts us all. The Conversation, CC BY36.4 MB (download)

We are living in a time where we have greater access to lifesaving medicines and treatments than ever before. But we're also seeing a surge in the rejection of the medical research and the scientific community in general, with anti-vaccination activists and climate change sceptics building followings and taking seats in government. How do we bridge the divide to those who have lost trust in science…

1 Host: Darren Saunders

Speaking with: Juan Francisco Salazar about colonising Antarctica and Mars

Speaking with: Juan Francisco Salazar about colonising Antarctica and Mars. The Conversation, CC BY-NC-SA19.5 MB (download)

Last month, a team of scientists emerged from a year-long experiment to test what survival might look like for the first colonists on Mars. But while setting up a human colony on Mars seems like a journey into the unknown, the research community in the Antarctic is already encountering – and in some cases solving – many of the same problems we might face on new worlds. And those problems are not all…

2 Hosts: Dallas Rogers and Juan Francisco Salazar

Speaking with: Hannah Dahlen on pregnancy care

Speaking with: Hannah Dahlen on pregnancy care.

Recent studies have revealed an emerging understanding of the benefits of birthing relationships through the childbearing process. Creating a healthy mental state through pregnancy, birth and postnatal care can have an important and tangible effect on the health of both child and mother. Midwifery, one of the oldest professions in the world, has been increasingly overshadowed by technological development…

3 Hosts: Dallas Rogers, Hannah Dahlen, and Jacqueline Nelson

Speaking with: ‘Poll Bludger’ William Bowe in the final week of the election campaign

Speaking with: ‘Poll Bludger’ William Bowe in the final week of the election campaign.

On Saturday, Australians will finally go to the polls to decide who will lead the country after one of the longest election campaigns in recent history. But no matter which major party wins government, they look set to be sharing power – particularly in the Senate – with a range of new faces from the likes of Nick Xenophon’s and Jacqui Lambie’s political parties. So, which seats should we be following…

2 Hosts: Natalie Mast and William Bowe

Speaking with: Deb Warr on "poverty porn"

Speaking with: Deb Warr on “poverty porn”

In May 2015 the mayor of the City of Blacktown, Stephen Bali, denounced the SBS documentary series Struggle Street – produced in the Blacktown suburb of Mount Druitt – labelling it as "public funded poverty porn" and staging a creative protest which saw a dozen garbage trucks blockade the broadcaster's head offices. The second series of Struggle Street will be filmed in Queensland and Victoria in 2016…

2 Hosts: Dallas Rogers and Deborah Warr

Speaking with: 'Poll Bludger' William Bowe on the election races to watch

Speaking with: ‘Poll Bludger’ William Bowe on the election races to watch.

In this podcast, University of Western Australia political analyst Natalie Mast speaks with "Poll Bludger" William Bowe about the election campaign so far. The conversation focuses on the latest polling and whether there is evidence of a nationwide swing large enough to unseat the Coalition government. They touch on the possible impact state issues – particularly in Western Australia and South Australia…

2 Hosts: Natalie Mast and William Bowe

Speaking with: John Hattie on how to improve the quality of education in Australian schools

Speaking with: John Hattie on how to improve the quality of education in Australian schools.

Do we actually know what works when it comes to improving the quality of education in schools? A new four-part ABC documentary series, Revolution School, looks at what the research tells us about what works in education – and what doesn't. It tells the story of how a typical suburban high school in Victoria, Kambrya College, managed to turn around from rock bottom to being in the top 25% of study scores…

2 Hosts: Maxine McKew and John Hattie

Speaking with: Graeme Orr on the festival of elections

Speaking with: Graeme Orr on the festival of elections. CC BY-SA33.2 MB (download)

The writs have been issued, the stage has been set: Australians are about to go to an election. You can almost smell the sausages sizzling at local primary schools and scout halls, and it's only a matter of time until the how-to-vote cards start to make their way into our hands and letterboxes. When we talk about the fundamental elements of representative democracy, we tend to defer to grand themes…

2 Hosts: William Isdale and Graeme Orr

Speaking with: Rhonda Itaoui on navigating the city as a young Muslim

Speaking with: Rhonda Itaoui on navigating the city as a young Muslim.

The terror attacks on the World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001, changed the way we think about politics, society and safety as the world entered the 21st century. But as the world learned the identities of the attackers, the response affected one community much more acutely: Muslims. The media coverage of the 2001 attack and other subsequent incidents in our region, including the Lindt Cafe siege…

2 Hosts: Dallas Rogers and Rhonda Itaoui

Speaking with: Lucy Turnbull on the Greater Sydney Commission

Speaking with: Lucy Turnbull on the Greater Sydney Commission. CC BY-ND31.4 MB (download)

In late 2015, the Greater Sydney Commission was established to oversee metropolitan planning and development in Sydney. The commission is intended to function as a partnership between state and local governments, with both the power to create overarching planning proposals and the mandate to work with local governments on local planning controls. NSW Premier Mike Baird has tasked the commission with…

1 Host: Dallas Rogers

Speaking with: Shanthi Robertson and Ien Ang on migrants, refugees and Australia's place in Asia

Speaking with: Shanthi Robertson and Ien Ang on migrants, refugees and Australia’s place in Asia.

Australia's refugee and border protection policies have been in the spotlight again this week as riots broke out at the Christmas Island detention centre following the unexplained death of an escaped asylum seeker. The incident happened just prior to a review of Australia's human rights record at the UN Human Rights Council. Many countries criticised Australia’s tough stance on asylum seekers, and…

3 Hosts: Dallas Rogers, Ien Ang, and Shanthi Robertson

Speaking with: Aric Bendorf on how to increase organ donation rates in Australia

Speaking with: Aric Bendorf on how to increase organ donation rates in Australia.

Roughly 1,600 people are currently on waiting lists to receive an organ transplant in Australia. But for many, the wait will be unsuccessful due to the low number of donors. Australia was once a world leader in organ donations, but today its organ donation rate is lower than much of the developed world. The country ranks 20th in the world for donations, despite having a higher than average rate of…

2 Hosts: William Isdale and Aric Bendorf

Speaking with: Meg Urry on supermassive black holes

Black holes are incredibly strange phenomena: a collapsed star packed into a tiny region of space. Their gravitational force is so strong that not even light can escape. So it is not surprising that, for a long time, black holes were not thought to actually exist – they were only a theoretical possibility. But today, not only do we realise that black holes are relatively common in the universe, we…

2 Hosts: Tanya Hill and Meg Urry

Speaking with: the Poll Bludger William Bowe on the Canning byelection

Speaking with: the Poll Bludger William Bowe on the Canning byelection.

This Saturday's Canning byelection has turned from being a poll on Tony Abbott to being a test of both new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten. Political analyst Natalie Mast spoke with "Poll Bludger" William Bowe about what Monday's leadership spill will mean for the vote in Canning. Subscribe to The Conversation's Speaking With podcasts on iTunes, or follow on Tunein…

2 Hosts: Natalie Mast and William Bowe

Speaking with: Lawrence Gostin on Ebola, the WHO and the future of global health

Speaking with: Lawrence Gostin on Ebola, the WHO and the future of global health.

The recent Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa occurred in three of the poorest and least resourced countries in the world. And as Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia all struggled with the epidemic, it was clear a global response was needed to contain the disease. But the response, led by the World Health Organization, has been widely criticised for being too slow and inadequate, and over 11,000 people…

2 Hosts: William Isdale and Lawrence O. Gostin

Speaking with: Naomi Klein on capitalism and climate change

Speaking with: Naomi Klein on capitalism and climate change.

In her latest book, This Changes Everything (2014), the Canadian writer and activist Naomi Klein tackles the issue of climate change through a familiar prism: capitalism. She argues that unrestrained capitalism is the root of the problem and that the global response to climate change has, thus far, been shaped by wealth and power. Christopher Wright spoke to Naomi Klein on the eve of her appearance…

1 Host: Christopher Wright

Speaking with: Crystal Legacy on the politics of transport infrastructure

Speaking with: Crystal Legacy on the politics of transport infrastructure.

As anyone who travels to work would probably realise, Australia's transport infrastructure needs urgent upgrades. As our cities continue to grow, it is virtually impossible to escape the tangle of peak-hour congestion. But with governments focused on reducing deficits, only one or two transport infrastructure projects are likely to be implemented. So how are decisions about which infrastructure to…

2 Hosts: Dallas Rogers and Crystal Legacy

Speaking with: Hayley Saul and Emma Waterton on the Nepal earthquake and the everyday Nepalese hero

Speaking with: Hayley Saul and Emma Waterton on the Nepal earthquake and the everyday Nepalese hero.

Hayley Saul and Emma Waterton were doing anthropological field work in the Langtang valley in Nepal when the devastating magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit on April 25 this year, killing more than 9,000 people. At the time of the quake, they were with several local guides from the village of Langtang, now dubbed "the worst affected" area in Nepal. Saul and Waterton were recording local oral histories. They…

3 Hosts: Dallas Rogers, Emma Waterton, and Hayley Saul

Speaking with: Anthony D'Costa on the challenges facing India's economy

Speaking with Anthony D'Costa on the challenges facing India’s economy.

Recent IMF and World Bank forecasts show that India's economy could take over from China as the world's fastest growing economy in the next two years. The two organisations' tick of approval for the Modi government's development agenda comes just over a year after Narendra Modi lead the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to a landslide win in the 2014 Indian elections, securing 282 seats and gaining majority…

1 Host: Anthony D'Costa

Speaking with: Hazel Easthope on designing for high density living

Speaking with: Hazel Easthope on high density living and design.

Australia’s growing population has put enormous pressure on the housing market within the major cities, which have expanded further and further out. But new settlements on the urban fringe require governments to invest in costly new infrastructure, and states such as Victoria and New South Wales have started to build up, rather than build out. This effort to combat urban sprawl has lead to a rapid…

2 Hosts: Dallas Rogers and Hazel Easthope

Speaking with: Jason Dittmer on superheroes and fascism

Speaking with Jason Dittmer on superheroes and fascism.

Superhero films are big business. Avengers: Age of Ultron recently passed US$1 billion in box office sales. The first Avengers film is currently third in all-time box office rankings. The popularity and success of Batman, Ironman and the Avengers have contributed to a revival of the American superhero on the big screen. And though the latest films may seem like modern superhero narratives, the themes…

2 Hosts: Dallas Rogers and Jason Dittmer

Speaking with: Keith Jacobs on the politics of housing

Speaking with: Keith Jacobs on the politics of housing.

The Reserve Bank cut interest rates to 2% on Tuesday hoping to stimulate business investment and household spending. The RBA's decision was welcomed by Treasurer Joe Hockey, but there are concerns the record-low rate will further inflate the already heated housing markets in Sydney and Melbourne. The Economist magazine recently evaluated Australia’s housing market to be overvalued by more than 25…

2 Hosts: Dallas Rogers and Keith Jacobs

Speaking with: Peter Singer on effective altruism

Speaking with: Peter Singer on effective altruism.

Australians are among the most charitable people in the world, donating around A$2.4 billion a year. But how can we ensure the money we donate is used as effectively as possible? There are more than 60,000 registered charities in Australia, ranging from international NGOs to environmental organisations. While most appeal to our emotions when fundraising, someone wanting to have the greatest positive…

2 Hosts: William Isdale and Peter Singer

Speaking with: Cameron McAuliffe on graffiti, art and crime

Speaking with: Cameron McAuliffe on graffiti, art and crime. CC BY-ND21.2 MB (download)

Is graffiti art or crime? The modern form of graffiti made its way to Australia from the US in the 1980s, and it quickly was characterised as a blight on our urban landscapes. Classified as vandalism, many cities adopted tough legal measures to deter graffiti artists from tagging walls and trains. Today, the situation largely remains the same. Graffiti is still illegal. The city of Hobart recently…

2 Hosts: Dallas Rogers and Cameron McAuliffe

Speaking with: Joanne Orlando on children and technology

Speaking with: Joanne Orlando on children and technology. CC BY-SA25.7 MB (download)

Is technology bad for kids? As more devices and software applications are made specifically for an increasingly younger audience, there is concern about the appropriateness of children using technology – and debate over when it should be introduced into their lives. Yet at the same time, personal devices and touch screens are everywhere. Kids love them for the same reasons we do, and many argue that…

2 Hosts: Tamson Pietsch and Joanne Orlando

Speaking with: David Tiley on funding Australian films

Speaking with: David Tiley on funding Australian films. CC BY-ND23.2 MB (download)

The Australian Film Commission (AFC) was founded with a budget of A$6.5 million in 1975 with the hope of revitalising the Australian film industry to a point where it could sustain itself without government support. The funding resulted in what is now generally regarded as the "golden age" of Australian cinema in the 1970s and 80s. But even today, most Australian films are still primarily funded through…

1 Host: Vincent O'Donnell

Speaking with: Shanthi Robertson on the changing face of migration

Shanthi Robertson on the changing face of migration.

Immigration is a contentious topic in many parts of the world, and the debate in Australia has been predictably framed around asylum seekers, the burdens on taxpayers and the protection of local jobs. This narrow focus has meant migrants are often divided into categories of "good" and "bad". The reality is a lot more complex and nuanced. For much of Australia's history, most migrants were permanent…

2 Hosts: Dallas Rogers and Shanthi Robertson

Speaking with: Tim Jones on child sexual abuse within religious institutions

Speaking with: Tim Jones on child sexual abuse within religious institutions. The Conversation21.6 MB (download)

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse reconvened this week. Announced in 2012, the commission was established due to growing concerns over consistently inadequate responses to child abuse cases by institutions. Although the current Royal Commission is focused on cases within living memory in a wide range of institutions, the hearings reveal that Australian churches…

2 Hosts: Tamson Pietsch and Timothy W. Jones

Speaking with: Kerry Brown on China, Australia and diplomacy

Speaking with: Kerry Brown on China, Australia and diplomacy.

The emergence of China as a 21st-century superpower has already had profound impacts on Australia. As China reshapes the balance of power, not only in the Asia-Pacific region but globally, its influence on Australia is likely to increase. China’s economic and military growth will also challenge the world’s other superpower – and Australia’s traditional security ally – the United States. Caught between…

2 Hosts: Tamson Pietsch and Kerry Brown

Speaking with: Duane Hamacher on Indigenous astronomy

Speaking with: Duane Hamacher on Indigenous astronomy.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people have between 40,000 and 60,000 years of pre-colonial history that includes stories of constellations they observed in the night sky and traditions that align with the stars and the moon. But until recently, these stories were largely dismissed by the scientific community. Researchers are now finding that Indigenous oral traditions contain vast environmental…

2 Hosts: Tamson Pietsch and Duane W. Hamacher

Speaking with: Nicole Gurran on affordable housing

Speaking with: Nicole Gurran on affordable housing.

Australia’s residential house prices rank among the highest in the world, and an increasing number of aspiring home owners are finding themselves locked out of the property market. While low interest rates and higher wages have somewhat tempered the impact of high house prices, these factors have not helped low-income earners, who continue to struggle to find housing within their budget. One possible…

2 Hosts: Dallas Rogers and Nicole Gurran

Speaking with: Sarah Sorial on free speech and democracy

Speaking with: Sarah Sorial on free speech and democracy.

Freedom of speech is often seen as a cornerstone of democracy, but the unfettered right to express opinions can infringe other fundamental rights. Minority groups are especially at risk of verbal attacks and intimidation, and some countries, including Australia, have legislated protections that limit free speech. When Attorney-General George Brandis ordered a review of the Racial Discrimination Act…

1 Host: Tamson Pietsch

Speaking with: Steve Kilbey, lead singer of The Church

Speaking with: Steve Kilbey, lead singer of The Church.

Bassist and lead singer of The Church, Steve Kilbey is one of Australia's most prolific musicians. The band released their 25th album, Further Deeper, in October and will play The Queenscliff Music Festival this Saturday. Kilbey speaks with Andrea Baker about his recently released memoir, Something Quite Peculiar, which describes his rise to fame, his heroin addiction and The Church's resurgence. Please…

1 Host: Andrea Jean Baker

Speaking with: Nick Rowley on democracy in Antarctica

Speaking with: Nick Rowley on democracy in Antarctica.

Antarctica is the coldest, driest and possibly the most inhospitable place on Earth. It is also the only continent designated entirely as a natural reserve, used purely for peaceful and scientific purposes. For many decades, Antarctica has been the final frontier for scientific research, governed by a treaty system signed in 1959, that protects the continent from exploitation and military action. But…

2 Hosts: Tamson Pietsch and Nick Rowley

Speaking with: George Galster on revitalising Detroit

Speaking with: George Galster. CC BY-ND18.9 MB (download)

Detroit is in turmoil, officially bankrupt and home to some of America's poorest citizens. But 50 years ago it was thriving, boasting a booming manufacturing sector and a steadily growing educated middle-class. What happened? Dallas Rogers speaks with George Galster on the fallout from the decline of the automotive industry, and the glimmer of hope new urban projects offer this troubled city. George…

1 Host: Dallas Rogers

Speaking with: Scott McKinnon on LGBTI issues during natural disasters

Speaking with: Scott McKinnon.

When natural disasters strike, the impact varies significantly across different social groups, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) communities are poorly accounted for in disaster management policy and practice. Dallas Rogers speaks with Scott McKinnon on the different needs of the LGBTI community during a natural disaster event, and how emergency services, policy-makers and…

2 Hosts: Dallas Rogers and Scott McKinnon

Speaking with: journalist Masha Gessen on Putin's Russia

Speaking with: journalist Masha Gessen on Putin’s Russia.

Russian-American writer and LGBT activist, Masha Gessen has covered every major development in Russian politics and culture of the past two decades. She is the author of Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot (2014), as well as six other books, including the international bestseller The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin (2012). Here, Judith Armstrong talks to Gessen…

1 Host: Judith Armstrong

Speaking with: Robert Picard on democratising the media

Speaking with: Robert Picard. CC BY-ND21 MB (download)

Is social media really delivering on its promise of democratising communication? Or have we just replaced one model that privileges those with power for another? Dr Andrea Carson speaks with Professor Robert Picard, one of the world's leading academics on government communication policies and media economics. Listen to other podcast episodes here.

2 Hosts: Andrea Carson and Robert Picard

Speaking with: singer-songwriter Mark Seymour

Speaking with: Mark Seymour. CC BY-ND22.7 MB (download)

At the Melbourne Writers’ Festival this week, a panel of poets, writers and performers will read and reflect on the poetry of the first world war. Among them is Mark Seymour, the former frontman of Hunters & Collectors and a fixture on the Australian music scene for the past three decades. Here, Andrea Baker talks to Seymour about his life-long fascination with war, the manipulation of language…

1 Host: Andrea Jean Baker

Speaking with: food critic Ruth Reichl

Speaking with: Ruth Reichl. CC BY-ND31.4 MB (download)

Ruth Reichl MWF Ruth Reichl, the former restaurant critic of The New York Times and author of best-selling gourmet memoirs Tender at the Bone and Comfort Me with Apples, is known for describing, in vivid detail, how food can define us. While in Australia this week, to discuss her first novel Delicious! at the Melbourne Writers' Festival, Reichl talks with food researcher Isabelle de Solier about why…

1 Host: Isabelle de Solier

Speaking with: mountaineer Andrew Lock

Speaking with: Andrew Lock. CC BY-ND27.4 MB (download)

Andrew Lock is the most accomplished high-altitude mountaineer in Australian history. He is the only Australian, the first person in the Commonwealth, and just the 18th man in the world to climb all 14 of the world’s 8000-metre mountains, including Everest – twice. Here, sports scientist David Bishop talks with Lock about "grit", the psychological and physical stamina required for 24-hour days of climbing…

1 Host: David Bishop

Speaking with: The New Yorker TV critic Emily Nussbaum

Speaking with: Emily Nussbaum. CC BY-ND26.3 MB (download)

Over the past decade we have witnessed the rise and rise of long form television – from The Sopranos to The Wire, Game of Thrones to Orange Is the New Black – and no one has been watching this transformation more keenly than the television critic for The New Yorker, Emily Nussbaum. Here, media researcher Lisa French talks with Nussbaum about bingeing on DVD sets, live-tweeting and delighting in reruns…

1 Host: Lisa French

Speaking with: Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield

Speaking with: Chris Hadfield.

Colonel Chris Hadfield is one of the most famous astronauts on Earth. Through the creative use of social media, he's made space exciting and accessible to new generations of enthusiasts, most notably through his performance of David Bowie's Space Oddity while on board the International Space Station. In this interview, I ask Chris about human-machine relations, lessons for the Australian space program…

2 Hosts: Alice Gorman and Chris Hadfield

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