Sunday, December 2, 2012


Highlights of last month

Unfortunately, the editors of Canberra Brain Food weren’t able to attend all of the great talks and seminars last month but the highlights were again in the field of law and justice. Former High Court judge Michael Kirby spoke engagingly and reflectively in the relaxed environment of the gardens at Manning Clark’s old house in the suburb of Forrest. And Prof Anne Twomey of Sydney Law School gave an amazing (and entertaining) display of wide-ranging scholarship at her talk at the High Court itself.

This month

As usual, Canberra begins its summer indolence in December as thoughts turn away from lofty topics towards the pleasures of the beach, Christmas parties and falling asleep while watching interminable cricket matches. Nevertheless, there are still several interesting events to look forward to as set out below. It is also time to start looking forward to the many and varied events planned in 2013 for the celebration of Canberra’s centenary. You can begin planning your involvement at the following site:

Monday 3 December 2012
Title: 2012 Reflections lecture – Dr Bob Brown
Time: 5:30 – 6:30pm
Venue: Crawford Building, ANU
Cost: Free, registration required

Bob Brown practised as a medical doctor, became a leader of Tasmania’s environmental movement, was elected to the federal Senate and became the leader of the Greens Party. In 2012, he retired from politics and he is an ideal person to give this year’s Reflections lecture at the ANU’s Crawford School of Public Policy. This annual lecture has become an outstanding event on Canberra’s calendar with prominent former politicians giving a thoughtful analysis of their time in politics, the achievements and disappointments and the trends that they see shaping the future directions of this country.

Wednesday 5 December
Title: Can today’s corporation deliver tomorrow’s economy?
Time: 5:15 – 6:30pm
Venue: Crawford Building, ANU
Cost: Free, registration required

Pavan Sukhdev is a creative and therefore provocative thinker about the nexus between environmental and economic concerns and about how we can overcome the notion that we must necessarily engage in a trade-off between the two. Can we create a Green Economy, one that improves human well-being and social equity while also reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. What role can corporations – often portrayed as the bad guys in this story – play in bringing about this vision.

Mr Sukhdev is visiting fellow at Yale University as well as founder and CEO of his own consultancy firm. He led the United Nations Environment Program Green Economy Initiative and was the lead author of its report ‘Towards a Green Economy.’ You can read some of his recent articles at:

Thursday 6 December
Title: Type 1a supernovae, the accelerating universe and dark energy
Time: 12:00 - 1:00pm
Venue: Huxley Theatre, ANU
Cost: Free, registration required

Canberra’s latest Nobel laureate, astrophysicist Prof Brian Schmidt continues his post-award public speaking engagements. Come and learn how the explosion of stars is used by scientists to measure distances in the universe, how this led to the discovery of the universe’s expansion and how scientists explain this expansion through the existence of ‘dark energy’.

Prof Schmidt is a wonderful speaker who can explain the frontiers of astrophysical research and speculation in a clear and exciting way.

Monday 10 December
Title: Unleashing the use of force
Time: 5:00 - 6:30pm
Venue: Hedley Bull Centre, ANU
Cost: Free, registration required

Covert killings by the agents of one state in the territory of other states are regular features to the point where the legality of events such as the assassination of Osama Bin Laden draws little comment. But how do we reconcile such actions - or the ‘targeted strikes’ carried out using unmanned aerial drones - with our professed adherence to the rule of law? What constraints do we recognise? Is there any distinction between what military forces may do and what we allow in the name of ‘covert operations’? Prof Philip Alston is currently NYU’s Center for Human Rights and Global Justice. He has previously held positions in universities around the world (including at ANU) as well as positions as an adviser to various United Nations bodies.

* The information on this site is drawn from the websites of various institutions. The web addresses are supplied. Check the websites to confirm details.

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