Home of public lectures

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Our nation’s capital is an amazing place for extra-curricular activities; with lawns around the city crowded after hours with soccer and football and boot camps, pubs loaded with actually knowledgable trivia teams, backyards packed with urban chicken gurus and living rooms overflowing with players of bridge and other previously assumed obscure card games.

But I care not for your ultimate frisbee, Zumba, fit mums or organic permaculture techniques, I am a public lecture fanatic.

Aural stimulation of the ideas variety is my bag, baby.

Cities the world over have universities and societies filling theatres with smart people talking about stuff, but Canberra has the benefit of being the capital of our great land, where the planet’s leaders and experts come to shake hands with our top ladies.

And it is here you will find a mind-blowing menue of brain-tingling, weird, wonderful, life-changing, ideological overthrow material provided by the most interesting people you’ve never heard of and many folk you’ve seen in the pages of the best newspapers, magazines and academic journals on offer.

Public lectures happen all over town, all the time.

For example, last week I attended a lecture entitled “Is the United Nations Response to Piracy Working?” delivered by a couple of dudes who run the counter-piracy program for aforementioned international body in and around Africa.

I found out that in the two years of the program’s existence, 700 Somali pirates were imprisoned in 14 countries, that the pirates aren’t religious fanatics and they aren’t violent in custody.


Last year I saw the President of East Timor Jose Ramos Horta speak about his country’s relationship with our own. It was fascinating. Especially when he had a go at Gareth Evans.

Coming up in the next few weeks I’m looking forward to hearing about space travel, America’s fiscal problem, post-socialist China, Australians in love and at war and an unknown subject to be delivered by, again, Gareth Evans.

And it’s the holidays. There isn’t much going on right now.

If you’re into the TED talks, enjoy intellectual challenge and need to get out more, public lectures may be for you, too.

Manning Clark House, CSIRO, the Australian National University and the University of Canberra are all good starting points for finding out about public lectures, but the national institutions such as Questacon, the War Memorial and the Library are also regular hosts to people who want to talk about their work and ideas.

If you’re holding a public lecture, tell “CityNews” about it! editor@citynews.com.au

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