Melbourne’s greatest minds and creative thinkers are set to take-over some of the city’s favourite bars this November, with the return of Raising the Bar for 2018.
Speaking at seven bars across the city, 23 professors, lecturers and experts in their field will pose thought-provoking questions in laid back settings for one night only on 28 November.
Audiences will be asked to ponder everything from the power of nerds, gender inequality and de-criminalising cannabis to the future of Australia’s space agency, loathing the musician but loving the music, and how Aboriginal knowledge can shape our future.
Chair of the Knowledge City portfolio, Councillor Dr Jackie Watts, said Raising the Bar has quickly become one of the most popular and well-attended events hosted by the City of Melbourne.
“For one exciting night, bars across our city will be overflowing with savvy people, all keen to enjoy a drink, engage with ideas, listen and talk about matters of importance to us all,” Dr Watts said.
“Raising the Bar is both a completely free and freewheeling program of events with 23 speakers in locations across our city, presenting on hot topics including data privacy, our passion for sport, geophysics and brain-controlled prosthetics.
“We’re taking teaching and learning out of the conventional spaces such as lecture theatres, laboratories and online and into a social, convivial environment”.
Venues for this year’s event include Bar Ampere, Belleville, Horse Bazaar, RMIT, Loop Bar and the FAD Gallery.
A new addition to the program, ‘Karaoke Academia’, will also see academics present short talks followed by karaoke sessions at Party World Karaoke in Melbourne Central.
Raising the Bar is a worldwide initiative started in New York, which has spread to London, Hong Kong, San Francisco and Melbourne.
“As a proud knowledge city filled with innovation, events like Raising the Bar are an opportunity to showcase the amazing work we do,” Dr Watts said.
“I would encourage everyone to take part in this year’s event and to step outside their comfort zone to learn about something they may have never considered before. Raising the Bar is always an illuminating experience.”
For free tickets, the full list of speakers and session times, visit the Raising the Bar website.
2018 Raising the Bar speakers
Vanessa Teague – Horse Bazaar – ‘Why can’t we just vote online?’
Senior Lecturer, The University of Melbourne
It’s election season. Sausages will soon be sizzling at polling booths around the state and voters will flock to participate in our paper and pencil democracy. Sure, there is some nostalgic value in current voting approaches, but how could our democracy benefit from online voting, and what are the challenges? With an international team of cryptographers and statisticians, Vanessa Teague has spent the past decade considering how Australian elections could benefit from online voting without exposing our democracy to widespread, undetectable fraud. She’s still working on it.
Marco Amati – RMIT – ‘What’s the perfect size for a city?’
Associate Professor, RMIT University
Six weeks will have passed between these words being written and you attending this event. During this time, Australia’s population will have increased by 50,000 people. Nine of Australia’s 20 largest and fastest-growing suburbs are within the Greater Melbourne area. So what’s the best way for Melbourne to prepare for this growth? Having researched the history of the ‘perfect size’ for a city, Marco Amati believes that it’s not the size of a city that matters, but how you use it.
Belinda Barnet – Belleville – ‘How much should we worry about data privacy?’
Senior Lecturer, Swinburne University of Technology
Sign out. Deactivate. Purge your online footprint. Data privacy has clogged news headlines for months, making us all consider whether we should give up the security fight and get offline. But thanks to the research of Dr Belinda Barnet and her colleagues, there may be a better way forward. In this interactive session, Dr Barnet will show you how to maintain as much privacy as you can on social platforms like Facebook and Twitter without quitting altogether. She’ll also share insights on location tracking, multi-factor authentication and how to handle trolls.
John Postill – Bar Ampere – ‘Do nerds really run the world?’
Vice-Chancellor’s Senior Research Fellow, RMIT University
As the power of the Silicon Valley tech giants grow, more and more commentators say that nerds run the world. But who are the nerds, and would they run the world better or worse than the current political establishment? Perhaps we live in a ‘runaway world’, where no one is in charge – a world in which ‘nerdy’ creations like algorithms and AI run rampant. If that’s the case, what can ordinary citizens do about it?
Jayne Lucke – Loop Bar – ‘Young people and sex: What’s changed in Australia the past 25 years?’
Professor, La Trobe University
The year is 1992. Strictly Ballroom is playing in cinemas, Paul Keating is Prime Minister, and Nirvana and the Violent Femmes are headlining the first ever Big Day Out. This was also the first year of a 25 year national survey about adolescent sexual health in Australia. So how has young people’s sexual behaviour changed from the era of grunge rock to the rise of R&B? Examining data from this 25-year long survey, Professor Jayne Lucke will give us insights into what has changed and what has stayed the same in the sexual lives and literacy of young people.
Aleryk Fricker – FAD Gallery – ‘Are outback schools teaching ‘whiteness’ to Indigenous kids?’
Associate Lecturer, RMIT University
Access to education, weekend sport, culture and language is something most of us take for granted. But what if we arrived at school to find that the teacher was communicating in a foreign language? What if all the books, posters and other resources were indecipherable? And what if our failure in this environment prevented us from playing sport, meeting up with family, or engaging in our own culture and language? Aleryk Fricker examines how whiteness and English-language teaching has created an environment where remote Aboriginal students are forced to assimilate or perish. Through a case study of a remote Northern Territory Aboriginal school, Fricker will examine the different measures of control, and explore implications for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students around Australia.
Lauren Gurrieri – FAD Gallery – ‘How does advertising contribute to gender inequality?’
Senior Lecturer, RMIT University
Billboards on your commute home, targeted ads on Facebook, promotions on the back of bathroom stalls. Advertising is everywhere. As a constant presence in our everyday lives, it plays a powerful role in shaping what is desirable and ‘normal’. For decades, research has highlighted how advertising represents girls and women in ways that promote gender inequality. So how does this occur, and why is change so slow? In this talk, Lauren Gurrieri will demonstrate how advertising functions as a key representational system of unequal gender relations, how this is supported by the industry, and the problems of advertising self-regulation.
Catherine Gomes – RMIT – ‘How do international students find ‘home’ in Melbourne?’
Associate Professor, RMIT University
Melbourne is host to thousands of international students. If you lived and studied overseas, how would you create a ‘home away from home’? This talk explores the exciting and creative ways that international students find a sense of belonging while living overseas and apart from family, friends and the familiar.
Dr Nicole Lee – Loop Bar – ‘Would decriminalising cannabis achieve harm minimisation?’
Adjunct Professor, Curtin University
Maybe you are a hard-line prohibitionist, or maybe you like a sneaky toke now and then. Whatever your personal beliefs about drugs and drug use, one thing is clear: drug policy is a politically contentious issue. A dozen jurisdictions around the world have, or are planning to, legalise cannabis. The models presented range from a free market to highly government-regulated models. Many others are moving to decriminalise cannabis. What does the Australian public think about cannabis legalisation? What models are available and which should Australia adopt? Will it be reefer madness or business as usual? Is Australia ready? Come and hear about the pros and cons of cannabis regulation from one of Australia’s leaders in drug policy.
Sarah Maddison – Belleville – ‘What’s so exciting about the Australian Space Agency?’
Pro-Vice Chancellor, Swinburne University of Technology
The sky is not the limit. Australia was the third country in the world to launch a satellite into space, but until now, we haven’t had a dedicated space agency. The space industry is growing rapidly – and the new Australian Space Agency will focus on building capability in the sector. It’s not only about stargazing and satellites. How far can our curiosity take us, and what does Australia have to offer in the worldwide quest for extra-terrestrial knowledge?
Dr Son Vivienne – Horse Bazaar – ‘Is the future non-binary?’
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, RMIT University
Male, female, other, in-between? Binaries are out, and the future of gender is diverse. Online can be a refuge for non-binary, trans, and gender non-conforming people… but can be fraught territory, too. Navigating networks of friends and foes can provide an opportunity to play with and subvert gender presentation. How does the binary-busting online world affect our social understanding of gender? Partake in an exercise of creative digital self-making, hear about online world-building practices of gender-diverse people, and learn about the blurring of categories many people take for granted. Is the future non-binary? What does that mean?
Dr Catherine Strong – Loop Bar – ‘Can you loathe the musician but still love the music?’
Senior Lecturer, RMIT University
What do you do when you find out that your favourite artist has done something inexcusable? Delete all their music from your computer? Avoid their songs at all costs? In the wake of the #metoo movement, many stories of mistreatment and inequality have emerged in the music industry. What does this mean for our understanding of the history of popular music, and the legacy of people we may consider rock legends? How should we, as fans and consumers, respond to a musician who has done the wrong thing? What might these responses mean for creating the culture we need – inside and outside of the music industry?
Dr Djoymi Baker – Bar Ampere – ‘In dystopian times, is Star Trek our most important myth?’
Lecturer, The University of Melbourne
‘It seems a pity to waste them on outer space. We need them right here on Earth,’ wrote reviewer Cleveland Amory on Star Trek in 1967. The show offered a vision of the future in which the Cold War did not lead to mutual destruction, but rather cooperation. Now Star Trek is a vast franchise spanning decades and generations. Audiences may not always agree with Star Trek’s vision for the future, but then the franchise has so many different, often contradictory, parts. Might it ultimately be more important that Star Trek asserts an overall belief in a future in which humanity – and the Earth – not only survives, but thrives amongst the stars? Is Star Trek on to something when it markets itself as the optimistic myth, saga and legend of our age?
An architect, a planetary geologist, and a social researcher walk into a karaoke bar … It sounds like a joke, but for this year’s Raising the Bar, we’re making it a reality. Come along to PartyWorld karaoke bar and settle into a booth. Like an academic lucky-dip, you’ll be visited by a random series of specialists. Each will deliver a short presentation on their research, followed by a karaoke song of their choice. Delve into the weird and wonderfully specific research of some of Melbourne’s brightest up-and-coming academics, and leave the karaoke bar with fewer regrets than usual!
Over the course of the evening, you’ll hear from 3 academics randomly selected for your booth:
Simona Castricum – ‘Empathy and catharsis in a binary world.’