Beethoven's iconic scowl influences how we hear his work: musicologist

Beethoven was born 250 years ago this year. Since his death, he’s been used as a symbol of big ideas, from liberalism to nationalism to manliness. This documentary examines the shifting image of Beethoven, and his malleability as a symbol.

Are we really 'all in this together'? Challenging the limits of community

When we challenge humanity to "work together as a species," are we making an unreasonable demand? Nahlah Ayed and Canadian poet M. NourbeSe Philip discuss the meaning and limits of concepts like ‘community’ and ‘the common good.’ They respond to recorded provocations on the topic from various thinkers.

Saving the planet means listening to Indigenous peoples: Wade Davis

Ancient wisdom in the modern world can save us from the dangers of climate change, argues Wade Davis. The Canadian anthropologist has spent a lifetime looking into what Indigenous peoples of the world can teach us. Now, 10 years after his 2009 Massey lectures called 'The Wayfinders,' he looks back on what has changed on our planet — for better and for worse.

Historian traces how we built a society obsessed with serial killers

What goes on in the mind of a serial killer? After two random encounters with serial killers, historian and professor Peter Vronsky is trying to answer that very question — who they are, what motivates them, and in the age of true crime fanaticism — why we're so obsessed with them.

How jeans became one of the most polluting garments in the world

Blue jeans evolved from being the uniform of cowboys to a symbol of rebellion, and are now the most popular — and possibly the most polluting — garment in the world. IDEAS contributor and fashion expert Pedro Mendes explores the 150-year history of jeans and the 'authenticity' they are supposed to represent.

How to build an inclusive world

In this time of upheaval, what does the future look like? When we think about marginalized groups in society, and issues of gender, race, and poverty — how do we work toward making a better world? Rinaldo Walcott, Monia Mazigh and Micheal Vonn explore these questions in conversation with Nahlah Ayed.

Pulitzer Prize-winning historian explains the lure of authoritarianism

The left may be dominant in cultural spheres. But the right is dominant in politics, where real power is exercised. That dominance has derailed political conservatism throughout the Western world, where authoritarian "strong man" leadership has become increasingly mainstream. Historian Anne Applebaum talks about how the right went wrong.

How Star Trek shows that hedonism can work for everyone

When you think of a hedonist, you might think of a wine-guzzling sex addict, or a chocolate-binging glutton. As part of our series searching for common good, IDEAS tracks the true story of hedonism from Ancient Greece to Star Trek’s 24th century.

Why George Monbiot is fighting to build a 'politics of belonging' to better our world

Left-wing and right-wing governments around the world have fallen into the same trap, a failure of leadership to inspire a cohesive vision of society that ordinary citizens can share. What is to be done? Author George Monbiot joins Nahlah Ayed to point towards a new way of conceptualizing the common good, and forging a politics of belonging.

We are all migrants: author Sonia Shah on our ancient instinct to move and survive

“Migrant” evokes images of desperate people surging at closed borders. But they are us. Science writer Sonia Shah argues that a deep human instinct has been politicized as disruptive and troubling. In fact, migration is our ancient survival response to crisis.

2020 Massey Lectures: Renowned tech expert Ronald J. Deibert to explore disturbing impact of social media

Citizen Lab director Ronald J. Deibert will deliver this year's Massey Lectures, arguing that the internet, especially social media, has an increasingly toxic influence in every aspect of life.

Are we really 'all in this together'? Challenging the limits of community

When we challenge humanity to "work together as a species," are we making an unreasonable demand? Nahlah Ayed and Canadian poet M. NourbeSe Philip discuss the meaning and limits of concepts like ‘community’ and ‘the common good.’ They respond to recorded provocations on the topic from various thinkers.

Our 'futurecestors' deserve a voice in today's decisions, says author

In calling on us to be good ancestors, public philosopher Roman Krznaric is trying to give the discussion about the future a language, an address and a face: introducing us to all the people already working to formalize the practice of thinking long-term for the common good, benefiting both present and future generations.

Journalist Sally Armstrong answers your questions on how to achieve gender equality

In the five-part 2019 CBC Massey Lectures, Power Shift: The Longest Revolution, Sally Armstrong surveyed the ways in which the world has changed for women, and our slow progress toward a more equitable society. In conversation with Nahlah Ayed, the acclaimed journalist looks back on the experience of making the lectures and answers questions sent in by listeners.

The 2019 CBC Massey Lectures| Power Shift: The Longest Revolution

The celebrated journalist and author Sally Armstrong delivers this year's CBC Massey Lectures. "Power Shift: The Longest Revolution” explores the story of women’s place in the world today, how we got here, and what we can expect from the future. She argues gender inequality comes at too high a cost for all of us.

The Brilliance of the Beaver: Learning from an Anishnaabe World

Renowned Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg scholar and artist, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson talks about the philosophy and ethics that undergird Anishnaabe worlds in her 2020 Kreisel Lecture entitled, A Short History of the Blockade: Giant Beavers, Diplomacy and Regeneration in Nishnaabewin.

IDEAS schedule for September 2020

Highlights: IDEAS launches a series on the common good, asking one basic question: what do we owe each other? (Sept 7); Stratford panellists explore the identity of 'me' and the community of 'us’ and look toward building a better future (Sept 15); lessons on crime and punishment from the resilience of incarcerated women (Sept 25) and how a place called Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Alberta is deeply connected to Indigenous history and practice (Sept 30).

Milton's Paradise Lost: a survival guide for a fractured world

When we first meet Adam and Eve in John Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost, they live in a perfect world. But by the end, they're expelled into one that is marked by exile, war, illness and death. IDEAS explores what the poem says to us about how to grapple with an uncertain future — and if we can find our collective way back home.

Sympathy for the devil: Milton's Satan as political rebel

In the 17th century, John Milton wrote his epic poem Paradise Lost. He created the most sympathetic Satan in literary history — a complex character with legitimate grievances against a repressive God. In part one of a two-part series, IDEAS explores how Satan has resonated with people at moments of rebellion throughout history — from the Arab Spring to Communist Yugoslavia.

From patriotism to recruitment: How Hollywood helped the U.S. military sell the War on Terror

As the Twin Towers lay in rubble after Sept. 11, former U.S. president George W. Bush's administration leveraged the influence of Hollywood celebrities to sway the public to rally around the flag.

Machines that can think: real benefits, the Apocalypse, or 'dog-spaghetti'?

Stephen Hawking thought that artificial intelligence could spell the end of humanity. But Roger Melko of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics thinks that maybe, just maybe, we're on the cusp of a wonderfully transformative age.

From yesterday's 'spinster' to today's 'crazy cat lady,' has anything really changed?

Throughout history, single women have been vilified, ostracized and shamed. And while there are more single-person households in Canada than ever before, that lingering stigma still follows the single woman. CBC producer Alison Cook explores the social history of these "deviant" women in The Rise of the Glorified Spinster.

Neurophilosopher argues morality is rooted in brain science, not reason

How do we determine right from wrong? According to Patricia Churchland, the answer is through science and philosophy. The distinguished proponent of neurophilosophy explores how moral systems arise from the influences of nature and nurture in her book, Conscience: The Origins of Moral Intuition.

Psychologists confront impossible finding, triggering a revolution in the field

In 2011, American psychologist Daryl Bem proved the impossible. He showed that precognition — the ability to sense the future — is real. His study was explosive, and shook the very foundations of psychology. Contributor Alexander B. Kim in Vancouver explores the ‘replication crisis’ and what it means for the field and beyond.

Why Hollywood turned broken men into heroes after the Vietnam War

America's losing the Vietnam War shattered the 'heroic myth' that Hollywood had spent decades creating, according to historians and researchers. What followed was an era of films attempting to recapture past glories.