Festival of Dangerous Ideas is back in Sydney this August

Masha Gessen

Australia’s original disruptive ideas festival returns this August to provide a sanctuary for curious minds with a taste for danger.

The Festival of Dangerous Ideas (FODI) presents an expansive roster of international experts, bestselling authors, cutting-edge academics, and innovative thinkers; all appearing in-person.

Taking over Carriageworks from 24-25 August for a weekend of conversation, stimulation, and provocation, the Festival of Dangerous Ideas (FODI) returns to Sydney, the major events capital of the Asia Pacific, to set – or reset – the current affairs agenda.

Presented by The Ethics Centre, FODI24 will create a sanctuary for those wanting to cut through the noise, ask hard questions, and engage in good faith conversation about the most challenging issues of our time.

Introducing the 2024 program, Festival Director Danielle Harvey, said:

“At a time when we are surrounded by bad ideas and bad faith, where information is cheap and shallow, we need a place people can come and be curious together and be inspired. A space safe from hype. Safe to listen and ask questions. A space with real experts from all disciplines. Festival of Dangerous Ideas is here to be that space. The line-up won’t please everybody (it never does!) and nor does it aim to. But it will be good for everyone. What FODI offers is a precious moment in real time with 87 thought leaders and creatives who will bring you next-level discussion, likely some disagreement, and definitely some hope. Learning more about the world we are making and unmaking is a thrill, and I can’t wait for you to discover new ideas and thinkers over one massive weekend of danger.”

Simon Longstaff, Executive Director of The Ethics Centre, presenter of FODI, said:

“FODI was created in anticipation of a time in which the space allowed for principled disagreement would be subject to unrelenting pressure – from all sides. We live in such a time. For over 15 years we have pushed back – creating a forum where it is safe to engage with ideas that challenge and ultimately redefine what counts as ‘conventional wisdom’. This incredible program continues in that tradition – offering a range of topics and speakers whom we are confident will produce at least as much light as heat during the course of the Festival.”

Key Speakers and Themes

Joining an incredible cohort of local talent, 16 international guests present keynotes including:

  • Roxane Gay returns to Australia ten years on from the publication of her internationally bestselling Bad Feminist to reflect on what it takes to be a serial dissenter in this age of ‘tribal warfare’.
  • US psychologist Jean Twenge explores the alarming impact of smartphones and social media apps on young people, doubling depression rates among American teens, and amplifying loneliness in Australian youth.
  • Masha Gessen, journalist and writer, examines the intersection of history, propaganda, and censorship in today’s world, with a focus on historical conflicts from the Holocaust to the Russia-Ukraine war.
  • David Runciman presents an audacious plan in the Christopher Hitchens Oration, suggesting that the solution to restoring generational balance might lie in giving children the right to vote.
  • Megan Phelps-Roper and Andy Mills, discuss their podcast The Witch Trials of JK Rowling, highlighting the tensions in gender diversity and feminism debates.
  • Saree Makdisi tackles the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, questioning the Western tolerance of Israel’s actions towards Palestinians.
  • John N. Friedman and Richard Holden will explore how different policies can reverse declining social mobility.
  • Jen Gunter, known for dismantling myths surrounding women’s health, urges evidence-based care.
  • Coleman Hughes, advocates for a ‘colour blind’ society in a live edition of Uncomfortable Conversations with Josh Szeps.
  • David Baddiel, in the inaugural John Caldon Provocation, confronts the human condition and the role of spirituality with his bold thesis on the imagination of God.
  • Jem Bendell argues for learning to support each other through the transition of an already ongoing civilizational collapse.
  • David Benatar presents a case for anti-natalism, questioning the ethics of bringing children into a world guaranteed to suffer.
  • Todd Fernando addresses Indigenous excellence and its feasibility within Aboriginal Australia.

Panel Discussions and Events

Over the course of the weekend, FODI’s international guests will be joined by some of Australia’s leading changemakers in a series of panel discussions and conversation events, such as:

  • Wrecking the World Order with Matt Bevan, Avani Dias, Cheng Lei, and Hamish Macdonald.
  • Democracy is Not Worth Dying For featuring Masha Gessen, Paul Ham, and David Runciman.
  • Uncancelled Culture with David Baddiel, Tim Dean, Roxane Gay, Andy Mills, and Megan Phelps-Roper.
  • The Pitchforks are Coming including Myra Hamilton, Carl Rhodes, and Jordan van den Berg (aka Purple Pingers).
  • Speaking Bluntly featuring Antoinette Lattouf, Andy Mills, and Josh Szeps.
  • The End of Protesting with Jem Bendell, Ed Coper, and more.
  • Art is Always Political including Louise Adler, Brook Andrew, Violette Ayad, Gil Beckwith, and Emile Sherman.

Immersive Experiences and Installations

FODI’s dangerous provocations extend off stage, with installations and performances designed to test limits and push boundaries:

  • Numen / For Use’s Tape Installation: A suspended cocoon made from sticky tape where festival-goers can crawl through.
  • True Horror: An exploration of horror cinema with director Danny Philippou.
  • Keep Your Head Up: A live ‘jailbreak’ experiment by re:group.
  • Divinations in Transit: An interactive work by Vicki Van Hout and Marian Abboud.

Special Events

  • State Library NSW Tour: Stacks of Danger: A thrilling treasure hunt led by curators Sarah Morley and Margot Riley.
  • The Last Supper: A dinner event for festival-goers to discuss the big issues of the day.

Early access to purchase tickets is available to FODI and Ethics Centre subscribers from 7 am this morning. Tickets for the general public go on sale from 7 am on Wednesday 26 June. Select sessions will be available to stream, with livestream tickets on sale in August.

The Festival of Dangerous Ideas (FODI) is presented by The Ethics Centre, a not-for-profit that advocates for a more ethical society. FODI is supported by the NSW Government.

Want to get tickets to the Festival of Dangerous Ideas? Here’s the info you need

  • Pre-sale tickets are available to FODI and Ethics Centre subscribers from 7am today
  • Tickets are available to the general public from 7am on Wednesday 26 June
  • The Festival of Dangerous Ideas is presented by The Ethics Centre
  • Subscribe to be first in line for presale tickets at festivalofdangerousideas.com

Feature image: Masha Gessen