UNSW Centre for Ideas

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Necessity is the mother of invention. The supersonic development of several highly-effective COVID-19 vaccines has shown what can be achieved. So why, despite today’s researchers, clinicians and innovators having so many powerful tools at thei
42,000 years ago the temporary breakdown of Earth’s magnetic field sparked major climate shifts that led to global environmental change and mass extinctions. This dramatic turning point in Earth’s history – laced with electrical storms, widespr
Necessity is the mother of invention. The supersonic development of several highly-effective COVID-19 vaccines has shown what can be achieved. So why, despite today’s researchers, clinicians and innovators having so many powerful tools at th
In 2014, when David Quammen’s book Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic, was published he did not realise that he was predicting our future. Although Quammen wasn’t surprised when COVID-19 broke out, he was and has been as
Blue whales are known to migrate thousands of kilometres between their breeding and feeding grounds. But after founding the Sri Lankan Blue Whale Project in 2008, acclaimed marine biologist Asha de Vos discovered that there was a resident blue
How can we make a Blue New Deal? Healthy oceans are fundamental to a healthy planet. From phytoplankton, the tiny ocean plants that produce the oxygen we breathe, to the rich diversity of other ocean plants and creatures, we depend on our oce
Activity on the Sun’s surface creates a type of climate called ‘space weather’. It takes the form of solar flares, coronal mass ejections and bursts of radiation that travel far and wide across the Solar System and beyond. Space weather reach
Food is essential for life, but the global systems we rely on to feed us have become increasingly complex and industrialised. Sometimes it’s hard to know where our food comes from, what’s in it and how healthy or ethically produced it is. Pa
Considering the multitude of benefits nature provides cities, why is it so hard to add more green to our urban fabric? Linda Romanovska is a PhD candidate with UNSW Built Environment. Her research explores the best ways to assess the full valu
Poverty, equity and the drivers of health. Decolonising global health means a dismantling of privilege and the structural barriers to health, both across countries and within. In a world where everyone’s health matters, whose knowledge do we v
Imagine a world where each of us knew how to listen, respond, and be present for each other during times of crisis. Where each person understands that emotional health is important and provides the necessary care for people close to them. San
Conventional wisdom is clear – teamwork, collaboration and diversity lead to better learning and decision making, but what happens when teamwork doesn’t make the dreamwork? Christopher Jackson is a Professor of Business Psychology at the UNSW
How have the planet’s minerals evolved? If we want to understand the origins of life on earth, and how early life developed, we need to understand the earth itself and what it was made of. When US mineralogist Robert Hazen was asked if he kne
How have the planet’s minerals evolved? If we want to understand the origins of life on earth, and how early life developed, we need to understand the earth itself and what it was made of. When US mineralogist Robert Hazen was asked if he kne
Anzac biscuits are a symbol of survival and resilience – making them the ideal comfort food for Australians and New Zealanders in challenging times. Lindsay Kelley is an artist and lecturer at UNSW Art & Design. Kelley’s work in the kitchen e
The pandemic put us all in limbo. For the first time, many Australians understood what it means to be stranded, unable to cross borders, separated from the people you love. When our government said we were ‘all in this together’ – what happened
How can we teach the skills that the unexpected depends on – creativity, collaboration and never giving up? Richard Buckland is a Professor of Cybersecurity at UNSW Engineering. Buckland has taught over 10,000 students and is passionate about
Whilst the COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating in the USA, Dr Anthony S. Fauci has remained a voice of authority and reason, bringing scientific evidence to the fore. Throughout an extraordinary career as a scientist, a physician and a pub
How can we ensure that technological innovations respect our rights?  Technology is embedded in our everyday lives and is also becoming more and more autonomous. These technological developments happen so quickly that they can outpace the ins
How do we find a sense of agency and hope in these challenging times? Anthony Burke is Professor of Environmental Politics and International Relations at UNSW Canberra. Anthony is a leading scholar in global environmental governance and law, in
When writing policy for public health and welfare, what changes can be made to improve the health and well being for everyone in our community? Amy Bestman is a Research Fellow, in the Injury Division at The George Institute for Global Health
French economist Thomas Piketty has fundamentally changed the way we understand inequality. His global bestseller 'Capital in the Twenty-First Century' brought the phenomenon of rising inequality to our attention and highlighted its economic b
The pandemic put us all in limbo. For the first time, many Australians understood what it means to be stranded, unable to cross borders, separated from the people you love. When our government said we were ‘all in this together’ – what happened
In an age increasingly defined by accusation and resentment, can forgiveness play a more powerful role? Law Professor Martha Minow asks us to consider the big questions: who has the right to forgive? And who should be forgiven? Individuals and
What misconceptions do we still have about women's minds and bodies? For hundreds of years, Western science took women's intellectual and physical inferiority as a given. But as we move beyond these pseudoscientific ideas, what mistakes are s
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