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Ideas, Intellectuals and the Public

11:00am, Friday 20 June 2003, Goodenough College

Ideas can define and transform society, but how healthy is intellectual life today? Human beings have a unique capacity to use reason to act on the world, but we don’t always make the most of that capacity. It is crucial for those of us who value ideas to assess rigorously and honestly the state of contemporary ideas. the role of intellectuals and the audience for their ideas.

In a period when Big Brother refers not to George Orwell but to a reality TV show, when thinkers join think-tanks to design short-term government policy rather than reflecting on and challenging the status quo, and when the ever growing number of graduates seem more interested in job prospects than academic endeavour, is intellectual life in terminal decline?

This three-day conference will look at the debates about knowledge, the university system and new arenas for ideas, bringing together academics, journalists, novelists, scientists, artists and activists in a public-arena to look at where new ideas are coming from, who is their
audience and whether they match up to the tasks facing humanity.

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