A Love of Ideas


A brief journey in search of trusted information
Andrew Jaspan

“One of the most serious problems facing the world today is the over-abundance of unreliable information, a condition sometimes referred to as info-obesity. Not good. In Too Big To Know, David Weisberger of Harvard calls this a crisis of information …”

Is the future of democracy safe in the hands of the under-30s?
Jane Smith

“In a stable, prosperous country such as Australia, it can be easy to take democracy for granted. Democracy has become a somewhat dirty word, especially with the ‘Millennial Generation’ (born 1982–2003) …”

Will democracy be enhanced by the new technology, or are we all doomed?
Nicholas Gruen

“Shortly after Barack Obama became the first US President to build his campaign around online social media, his new administration held an online ‘brainstorming’ session, seeking ideas for making government ‘more transparent, participatory and collaborative’ …”


Balancing the curriculum: teaching gratitude, hope and resilience
Lea Waters

“Why should we teach wellbeing in schools? Today’s youth face many challenges, including pressures from school, peer groups, parents, marketing, and incessant ‘digital connectedness’ promoted by social media …”

From children as consumers to children as contributors?
Dorothy Scott

“Some time back, I was reading the death notices in The Age, as one does, of course, when one retires and returns to Melbourne! One death notice intrigued me …”

Higher education: beyond the bottom line
Steven Schwartz

“On the evening of 14 April 1912, the Reverend Ernest Carter conducted a religious service aboard a steamship headed for New York. Marion Wright of Somerset, England, who was on her way to get married, sang the final hymn …”


The contrasting need for food and biofuel: Can we afford biofuel?
Peter Gresshoff

“Our world in the second decade of the 21st century is characterised by extensive growth of the human population (7.2 billion humans in 2014, with one billion extra expected in the next 12 years), and a parallel increase in the use of fossil fuels such as crude oil, natural gas and coal …”

Imagine 2033: How we achieved a rapid transition to a just, healthy, and sustainable post-carbon society
John Wiseman

“As Yeb Sono reminds us, the devastating impact of Typhoon Haiyan provides one more powerful reminder of the real and present danger of the climate change emergency now hurtling towards us …”

Our environment: damaged and endangered by human egotism and error
Lauren Rickards

“This chapter is about wellbeing in the Anthropocene. ‘The Anthropocene’ is the name given to the new chronological period the Earth is said to now be in as a result of human modifications, representing its exit from the Holocene (the past, relatively stable 10–12 millenia) …”

Science, technology and wellbeing
Ian Lowe

“Scientific understanding of the world has enabled us to improve material wellbeing on a scale that previous generations would find difficult to believe. For all but the last few decades, most humans have struggled to obtain the basic necessities for a civilised life …”


The shrinking family
Janet McCalman

“the most remarkable human achievement of the past 200 years has been the conquest of premature death. It has been a task of great complexity, drawing on political and economic changes, safe water, improved food supply and distribution …”

The ties that bind: same-sex parent families in a modern world
Simon Crouch

“In modern Australia there is a rich tapestry of family types that has been weaved from the social and cultural diversity that makes this country a privileged place to live. When viewed in contrast to the chaotic diaspora in which many families around the world strive to live …”


Data for health
Fiona Stanley

“Why can’t we get action from science?
As a child health researcher and advocate, there are many situations which make me anxious in Australia in 2014. Child abuse and neglect is apparently rising, as are substance abuse and mental health problems in both young people and their parents …”

The future is here
Louise Schaper

“We are living in the future.
No, seriously … we are, it is true!
What was once mere ideas introduced to us through the minds of science-fiction writers has now materialised in the world around us …”

Global health with justice: the United Nations’ sustainable development agenda on health
Lawrence O. Gostin

“Recognising the failure to meet the needs of the world’s poor, the United Nations General Assembly, on 8 September 2000, unanimously adopted the Millennium Declaration. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which followed the Declaration, are the world’s most broadly supported and comprehensive development targets …”

Using soft and smart power to create a healthy, liveable and sustainable city
Billie Giles-Corti

“In September 2011, a high-level UN meeting brought together leaders from across the globe to discuss the prevention and control of chronic diseases. This meeting acknowledged that the global burden of preventable health conditions such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes …”


A tale of swarms, cannibals, ageing and human obesity
Stephen J. Simpson

“At first sight these seem like very strange bedfellows. In this chapter, I will explain how seeking to understand swarming in locusts has led to new discoveries on the dietary causes of human obesity and ageing, as well as provided an understanding of locust swarming that links neurophysiological events within the brains of individual insects to continental scale mass migration …”

Best of the old and the new: a way forward for the food security dilemma?
Jill Gready

“the challenge of assuring global food security for the world’s increasing population – estimated to reach 9 billion by 2050 – has been much discussed. Many solutions have been proffered, but most are from limited perspectives and often represent vested interests of some sort – economic, political, or academic …”

Choosing to eat good fresh food
Stephanie Alexander

“My idea for the past twelve years has been to develop an enjoyable program suitable for all Australian primary schools, with the aim of positively influencing children’s attitudes and behaviours about food …”