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What is a festival of dangerous ideas?

Festival of Dangerous Ideas (FODI to its fans) is bold, audacious and thought provoking.

This home-grown festival launched in 2009 to give Sydney audiences access to high quality thought leaders, culture creators and radical artists from all over the world.

With its unique offering, FODI quickly secured acclaim, becoming a globally respected cultural asset that has helped define Sydney as the ‘smart capital’ of Australia.

FODI values original thought. Driven by ideas, not shock value, FODI platforms credentialed people to share and exchange – not restricted by form, language, perspective or geography.

FODI’s curation is renowned for being at the zeitgeist of ideas, providing access to issues we will soon be facing. It facilitates the tackling of wicked problems from different angles and makes space for daring and adventurous conversation.

FODI is for curious minds, eager to connect, gather information, and collectively shine light into the darkness to better understand the world and their place in it.

Festival of Dangerous Ideas is a curated festival. Read more about the FODI curators and advisors.

 

History

Across 11 festivals and counting, the Festival of Dangerous Ideas has had local and international experts from a diverse range of disciplines take to the stage to bring to light different perspectives on the most divisive issues we face.

FODI was co-founded by The Ethics Centre and the Sydney Opera House in 2009 and was presented at the Opera House for eight years. In 2018 the festival inhabited Cockatoo Island, and was presented by The Ethics Centre and UNSW Sydney Centre for Ideas.

The FODI 2020 program was to be the 10th Festival of Dangerous Ideas. Due to take place at Sydney Town Hall – a nod to the traditional meeting and rallying place for communities – to the program featured sessions and performances that explored climate change, meritocracy, giving, tech, politics, capitalism and more. The festival had to be officially cancelled on 16 March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In May 2020, FODI launched a series of digital video conversations. The series of online conversations takes inspiration from the original FODI 2020 theme of ‘Dangerous Realities’, with online sessions streamed via the festival website. The series interrogated the reality of the pandemic and its wider implications for our world and society. Watch now.

In February 2022, FODI released a bold new podcast FODI: The In-Between, an audio time capsule recording a moment in-between two eras. Eight conversations between 16 of the world’s biggest thinkers that capture the dangerous ideas of this moment in time. With guest speakers including Stephen Fry, Roxane Gay, Waleed Aly, Sam Mostyn, Slavoj Žižek, Naomi Klein and more, FODI: The In-Between tackles the big issues of our world and future, from climate change and global politics to artificial intelligence, truth and social media. Listen now.

In 2022, FODI returned to being presented live in Sydney with selected sessions available for streaming. 72 speakers and artists from across Australia and around the globe gathered at Carriageworks to present an ‘All Consuming’ program across two days in September.

The 2022 program featured Senator Jacqui Lambie, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, crisis historian Adam Tooze, tech writer Kevin Roose, Harvard historian Steven Pinker, performer and poet Alok Vaid-Menon, period preacher Lucy Peach, Jess Hill, Jane Caro, Saxon Mullions, Nick BrYant alongside A Rational Fear and The Minefield Live with experiences including Scott Campbell’s Whole Glory, Counterpilot’s Truthmachine, a site-specific performance by Legs On The Wall,  an original art commission by Brook Andrew, and pop-up collaborations with Gleebooks, Kitchen by Mike and more.

FODI returns to Carriageworks in-person  24-25 August 2024. Subscribe for program updates.

Timeline

2022

All Consuming

After a two-year event hiatus, the Festival of Dangerous Ideas returned live to Carriageworks Sydney on 17-18 September 2022.

FODI’s characteristically forward-reaching line-up showcased 72 artists and thought-leaders, and 8 international guests including, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, Senator Jacqui Lambie, crisis historian Adam Tooze, tech writer Kevin Roose, historian Steven Pinker, performer and poet Alok Vaid-Menon, Lucy Peach, Jess Hill, Jane Caro, Saxon Mullions, Nick Bryant, A Rational Fear and The Minefield Live with live experiences including Scott Campbell’s Whole Glory, Counterpilot’s Truthmachine, a site-specific performance by Legs On The Wall, an original art commission by Brook Andrew, and pop-up collaborations with Gleebooks, Kitchen by Mike and more.

The 2022 theme ‘All Consuming’ – asked us all to consider what we consume, what we are consumed by, and what should or could come to consume us. In an avalanching era of information, opportunity, isolation, and distraction, what are the truly dangerous ideas and where exactly should we focus our time and our investment?

2022

Bold new podcast

In February, FODI released a bold new podcast FODI: The In-Between, an audio time capsule recording a moment in-between two eras. Eight hour-long conversations between the world’s biggest thinkers that capture the dangerous ideas of this moment. With guest speakers including Stephen Fry, Roxane Gay, Waleed Aly, Peter Singer, Sam Mostyn, Slavoj Žižek, Naomi Klein and more, The In-between tackles the big issues of our world and future, from climate change and global politics to artificial intelligence, truth and social media. Listen now.

2020

Dangerous Realities

FODI launched its 10th festival and a milestone program with the theme ‘Dangerous Realities’. Sadly the festival was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. See the cancelled 2020 Program here.

In light of this, the festival launched FODI Digital, a series of online video conversations taking inspiration from the original FODI 2020 theme and streamed via the festival website. The series interrogated the reality of the current pandemic and its wider implications for our world and society.

2018

New format, new location

FODI took on a new format and new location. Held on Sydney’s Cockatoo Island, the program was a collision of ideas, art installations, live theatre and panel conversations. FODI explored the blurring of truth and trust, internet sub-cultures, fascism, privacy, LSD and the end of the world as we know it. Headline thinkers captured minds and social feeds with Stephen Fry, conservative historian Niall Ferguson, author Pankaj Mishra, Ex-Westboro Baptist Church member Megan Phelps-Roper, author Ayelet Waldman, iconoclast Germaine Greer, activist Mick Dodson, rock star of AI Toby Walsh, techno-sociologist Zeynup Tufekci, criminologist Xanthe Mallett, author Chuck Klosterman, journalist Rukmini Callimachi and artists Betty Grumble and Riley Harmon.

2016

Final year at the Opera House

The festival celebrated its final year at the Sydney Opera House with psychologist Jesse Bering, conservative commentator Andrew Bolt, artist Molly Crabapple, Alicia Garza (Black Lives Matter), journalist Stan Grant, Black Flag’s Henry Rollins, author Lionel Shriver, postcolonial scholar Priyamvada Gopal, economist Philippe Legrain and more. FODI’s closing event was ‘Mercy’, a large scale deconstructed performance of the Merchant of Venice presented with Bell Shakespeare, and speakers Michael Kirby and Germaine Greer.

2015

Solo sessions and panels

FODI featured solo sessions and panels with Tariq Ali, Naomi Klein, Peter Greste, Murong Xuecun, Suki Kim, Johann Hari, Malarndirri McCarthy, Paul Krugman, Laurie Penny, Jon Ronson, Eric Schlosser and Gideon Raff, exploring themes including the economy, artificial intelligence, climate change, cybersexism, addiction and sugar. The Moth live – FODI special edition was the closing event for the festival.

2014

Our place in the world

The festival brought our view of ourselves and our place in the world into question, exploring the fringes of loneliness, masculinity, narcissism, climate extinction, modern slavery, surrogacy, persecution and classism. Speakers included Pussy Riot, Salman Rushdie, Masha Gessen, Steven Pinker, Elizabeth Kolbert, Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, John Pilger, Lydia Cacho, Kajsa Ekis Ekman, Alissa Nutting, Ragip Zarakolu, Tim Flannery and Mark Latham.

2013

FODI thinkers

Festival speakers included Arlie Hochschild, David Simon, Hanna Rosin, Evgeny Morozov, Vandana Shiva, Dan Savage, John Safran, Christos Tsiolkas, Julian Burnside and Peter Hitchens, explored topics including outsourcing, conspiracy, masculinity, inequality and drugs.

2012

Dangerous topics

Topics included “All Women Hate Each Other”, “Israel is an Apartheid State”, “The Devil is Real”, “Genital Cutting is Normal”, “We are all Sexual Perverts” and “A Foetus is not a Person”. The speakers included Sam Harris, Brian Morris, Tara Moss, Illan Pappe, Jason Silva, Shiv Malik, Ed Howker, Eliza Griswold, Cormac Cullinan, Ronnie Chan, Jesse Bering and Tim Harford.

2011

Cutting-edge thinkers

FODI delivered a host of cutting-edge thinkers including Julian Assange, Jonathan Safran Foer, Kate Adie, Alexander McCall Smith, Jon Ronson, Slavoj Žižek, Mona Eltahawy and Philip Nitschke. The festival delved into the shadows with talks including “WikiLeaks has not gone far enough”, “Psychopaths Make the World Go Around”, “Ecstasy is No More Dangerous Than Horse-riding” and “All Women are Sluts”.

2010

The Sins of the Fathers

Geoffrey Robertson and Alan Dershowitz opened the festival with the debate, “The Sins of the Fathers: Should the Pope be held to account?”. Other speakers included Christian Lander, author of the “Stuff White People Like”, with a tongue-in-cheek etiquette guide to Caucasian culture, and New York columnist and creator of the free range kids movement, Lenore Skenazy, on how she was labelled “America’s Worst Mom”.

2009

Inaugural Event

The inaugural festival was held at the Sydney Opera House and forged a dangerous beginning with an opening address by ledgendary Christopher Hitchens on the topic “Religion Poisons Everything”.