Festival of Dangerous Ideas (FODI) is Australia’s original disruptive festival.
FODI holds uncomfortable ideas up to the light and challenges thinking on some of the most persevering and difficult issues of our time, questioning our deepest held beliefs and desires.
It presents a lineup of international and local thinkers and culture creators, inviting us all to immerse ourselves in ideas and conversations that encourage debate and critical thinking.
Each festival’s expert lineup demands attention. We all know progress happens when we are bold enough to interrogate ideas – when we’re able to have uncomfortable conversations and unafraid to question the status quo. We need to be curious – as individuals and as a society. The world we are making and unmaking, is a reflection of ourselves. Do we like what we see?
In an era of avalanching information, FODI is a curated festival, encouraging audiences to go deeper, beyond hype. What are the truly dangerous ideas and where exactly should we focus our time and our investment?
It’s time to get uncomfortable…
The Festival of Dangerous Ideas (FODI) 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 11 festivals and counting, 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.
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 COVID-19 pandemic, the Festival had to be officially cancelled on 16 March 2020.
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 current 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, 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 streamed sessions. 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 Stephen Pinker, performer and poet Alok Vaid-Menon, period preacher Lucy Peach, Jess Hill, Jane Caro, Saxon Mullions, Nick Byrant alongside A Rational Fear and The Minefield Live with experiences including Scott Campbell’s Whole Glory, Counterpilot’s Truthmachine, newly commissioned work by Brook Andrew, and performances by Legs on the Wall, Gleebooks, Kitchen by Mike and more.
FODI will return in-person on 24-25 August 2024. Subscribe for program updates as they are released.
Festival of Dangerous Ideas is a curated festival. The Festival Director is Danielle Harvey (2011–present). The Festival is co-curated by Simon Longstaff (2009–present).
After a two-year event hiatus, the Festival of Dangerous Ideas (FODI) 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 Stephen Pinker, performer and poet Alok Vaid-Menon, Lucy Peach, Jess Hill, Jane Caro, Saxon Mullions, Nick Byrant, A Rational Fear and The Minefield Live with live experiences including Scott Campbell’s Whole Glory, Counterpilot’s Truthmachine, commissioned work by Brook Andrew, and performances by Legs on the Wall, Gleebooks, Kitchen by Mike and more.
The 2022 ‘All Consuming’ theme – 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?
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 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
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.
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 and Riley Harmon.
The Festival of Dangerous Ideas (FODI) 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 of Dangerous Ideas (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.
In 2014 the 2015 Festival of Dangerous Ideas (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 the Festival of Dangerous Ideas (FODI) 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.
In 2012, Festival of Dangerous Ideas (FODI) 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, the Festival of Dangerous Ideas (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 the Festival of Dangerous Ideas (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”.
The inaugural FODI 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”.