To survive, we must ADAPT. Go beyond the hype. Interrogate HOW we got to this point, and where we WANT to go next. We need to face REALITY. Examine the TRUTH – as individuals and as a society. The world we are making and unmaking, is a reflection of ourselves. Decide if we like what we see. Arm ourselves with information. WAKE UP.
The Festival of Dangerous Ideas (FODI) is the original disruptive festival.
It brings to light important conversations that push the boundaries of conventional thought. It presents a line-up of international and local thinkers and culture creators, inviting the public to immerse themselves in ideas and conversations that encourage debate and critical thinking.
Festival of Dangerous Ideas was co-founded by The Ethics Centre and the Sydney Opera House in 2009. It was presented at Sydney Opera House for eight years and in its ninth year inhabited Cockatoo Island with a festival presented by The Ethics Centre with UNSW Sydney Centre for Ideas.
Across the past nine festivals, FODI 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.
Festival of Dangerous Ideas is a curated festival. The curators for 2020 are Danielle Harvey (2011-2020), Simon Longstaff (2009 -2020) and Ann Mossop (2010 – 2020).
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 – it was to feature sessions and performances that explored climate change, meritocracy, giving, tech, politics, capitalism and more. Due to the situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, safety measures put in place by the NSW Government meant that the Festival had to be officially cancelled on 16 March 2020.
In May 2020, FODI launched a series of digital conversations called FODI Digital. The series of online conversations takes inspiration from the original FODI 2020 theme of ‘Dangerous Realities’, with online sessions being streamed via the festival website. The series interrogated the reality of the current pandemic and its wider implications for our world and society.
Each year the Festival presents over 30 sessions with topics that cover specific aspects of climate change, meritocracy, giving, tech, politics, capitalism and more.
Australia’s original provocative ideas festival was set to return for its 10th festival and take place at the heart of Sydney in 2020. April 3 to 5 was to be a milestone weekend themed around ‘dangerous realities’ until the festival’s cancellation on 16 March 2020 due to the situation surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. See the cancelled 2020 Program line-up here.
In light of this, the festival launched FODI Digital, a series of online 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.
In 2018 the Festival of Dangerous Ideas 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, Garth Knight and Riley Harmon.
The Festival of Dangerous Ideas 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.
The 2015 festival 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.
In 2014 FODI 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.
In 2013 FODI thinkers, including 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.
In 2012, dangerous 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.
In 2011, 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”.
In 2010 Geoffrey Robertson and Alan Dershowitz opened FODI 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”.
In the inaugural 2009 event, the festival forged a dangerous beginning with an opening address by Christopher Hitchens on the topic “Religion Poisons Everything”.