Latest

How Portugal tackled its addiction epidemic to become a world model

Two decades ago, Portugal was in the grip of a nation-wide drug epidemic. The dire situation led the country's leaders to a radical solution: the decriminalization of all drugs and a health-care approach — rather than a criminal law approach — to deal with addiction. The experiment is now celebrated around the world as the "Portuguese Model." Contributor Megan Williams talks to the doctor who helped set up the system and to drug addicts still alive because of it.

A walk through Diderot's Paris in search of understanding Enlightenment

French philosopher Denis Diderot was one of a small group of 18th-century thinkers who began to explore a radical new way of thinking about the totality of human knowledge. In his magisterial Encyclopédie, he proposed a new way of organizing everything we know and experience. In part 2 of his series, producer Philip Coulter takes a walk around Diderot's Paris.
Ideas Afternoon

Woke Washing: the problem with 'branding' social movements

Since the invention of public relations, companies have championed progressive values as a way to sell their products. Some call this tactic brilliant PR. Others call it 'woke washing,' arguing that these companies are merely adopting the veneer of progressive values for profit or to sanitize unsavoury business practices. This episode explores the complex relationship between branding and social activism.

Reclaiming Marxism in an age of meaningless work

The absurdities and humiliations of late capitalism — social atomization, the gig economy, brutalizing inequality — have given new life to Karl Marx. While known best for his economic theorizing, Marx has found new favour for his rigorous humanism. Those most vulnerable to the vagaries of capitalism are seeing in Marx a framework for understanding their own humanity.

How our genes help build good societies: Nicholas Christakis

In a new book, Yale sociologist and physician Nicholas A. Christakis says our genes influence not only who we are, but also what our society can be. The physician and sociologist says we carry within us the "proclivities to make a good society” and points to many laudable features that humans have inherited from natural selection.

From the Brontë Sisters to Today: How gender and power play out in the arts

In Victorian England, the Brontë sisters published under male pseudonyms. They did so to have their female-centred work (Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights) taken seriously. Two centuries later, when Canadian playwright Jordi Mand came to write about the domestic lives of the sisters in Brontë: the World Without, she recognized both how far female artists have come ⁠— and how certain societal prejudices still haunt her profession.

All the World's Knowledge in 28 Volumes: Diderot's radical Encyclopédie

French philosopher Denis Diderot was one of a small group of 18th-century thinkers who began to explore a radical new way of thinking about the totality of human knowledge. In his magisterial Encyclopédie, he proposed a new way of organizing everything we know and experience. In part one of a two-part series, producer Philip Coulter goes on a walk around Diderot's Paris with philosophy professor and historian, Sophie Audidière. Part 2 airs Monday, June 17.
Ideas Afternoon

Exploring the eighth continent with Canopy Meg

Trees and forests could hold the key to the survival of life on our planet. Meg Lowman started climbing trees when she was still a painfully shy primary school student, in a small town in upstate New York. They became her closest companions whenever her human classmates started bullying her. She eventually became a pioneer of canopy science, and created a system of forest walkways that now extends around the world. She's been hailed as "Einstein of the Treetops", but is better known by the nickname, Canopy Meg. Paul Kennedy visited the self-described "arbonaut" in person to ask her whether trees can save the world.

Pierre-Esprit Radisson: 'A wilderness hero for our time'

At a time when most Europeans died within a day's journey from where they were born, Pierre-Esprit Radisson criss-crossed the Atlantic 10 times, was adopted into an Iroquois family, and was kidnapped by pirates. Historian Mark Bourrie documents the explorer’s adventure-filled life and counters stereotypes about the entire colonial epoch — especially Iroquois society — in his book, Bush Runner: The Adventures of Pierre-Esprit Radisson.

Policies restricting drug use are fueling the drug crisis, says Dr. Carl Hart

What's wrong with responsible adults using psychoactive drugs in the pursuit of happiness? Nothing, according to neuropsychopharmacologist Carl Hart who believes healthy adults have the right to use drugs to enhance their lives as they see fit. Hart argues policies that restrict and punish drug use are fueling the drug crisis in Canada and the United States.

Century-old journals reveal Iranian women's quiet resistance

One of the most powerful types of resistance to authority is also barely perceptible. To catch sight of this ‘hidden resistance,’ PhD student Safaneh Mohaghegh Neyshabouri pores over journals—recently discovered and never seriously studied before—written in the late 19th century by Iranian women. She’s looking for their everyday acts that push towards change and even prepare the ground for revolution in the latest installment of our ongoing series, Ideas from the Trenches.

Reading Montaigne: Why a 16th century writer still matters today

Michel de Montaigne was many things: a 16th century French writer, bureaucrat, and self-defined accidental philosopher. He’s also the inventor of a new literary form we now call the essay. His Essais – various "trials" or "experiments" in ideas – have touched centuries of readers and writers. Flaubert once exhorted us to "read him in order to live." Contributor Tony Luppino opens the writings and life of Western literature's original 'free thinker', who wrote on everything from idleness and liars, to wearing clothes and punishing cowardice.

The Enright Files on Irish Literature and Samuel Beckett

The Irish may just be the most literary of peoples. Only a few million people live in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, but that island has produced four winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature. The Enright Files explores Irish writers with a focus on the author and playwright, Samuel Beckett.
Ideas Afternoon

The First Stone: Jesus, the Accused and Us

Variously called 'Jesus and the Woman Caught in Adultery', 'Jesus and the Accused', and the 'Pericope Adulterae', this story, found in the Gospel of John, still throws off reflections and refractions today. Jesus' message is stark: "Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." And the history of the text is unique. IDEAS producer Sean Foley asks: What happens in this story? Where did it come from? And what does it say to us about some of our deepest contemporary dilemmas?

Public Morality in the Ages of Caesar and Trump

What is our common ground -- and common benefit -- when everyone in society has their own strong set of opinions? How do leaders lead or represent us? This episode takes a philosophical look at the interaction between morality and the public good, with Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar as a lens into how private and public values can both unite and divide us. Recorded on stage at Ontario’s Stratford Festival, Paul Kennedy hosts a discussion featuring philosopher Mark Kingwell, political theorist Emma Planinc and actor Jonathan Goad.

Is China a threat or an ally?

Highlights from the most recent edition of The Munk Debates. On one side, H. R. McMaster and Michael Pillsbury argue that free and open societies must push back against the policies of the Chinese Communist Party to preserve a rules-based international order. Opposing them, Kishore Mahbubani and Huiyao Wang make the case that such an approach spells disaster, and ignores the history and dynamics propelling China's peaceful rise to superpower status.

Contemplating the End with Annie Proulx and Bruce Pascoe

In his final appearance at the Blue Metropolis Literary Festival in Montreal – after twenty years of hosting on-stage interviews and panel discussions that were later broadcast on IDEAS – Paul Kennedy talks with American novelist Annie Proulx (The Shipping News, Brokeback Mountain, Barkskins) and Indigenous Australian writer Bruce Pascoe (Fox a Dog, Mrs. Whitlam, Dark Emu) about the fate of our planet. Their conversation begins with the environmental devastation that threatens life itself, and moves towards what we should do, both now and in the future.

Finding meaning in the universe with astrophysicist Hubert Reeves, Part 2

Hubert Reeves is one of the world's foremost experts on the Big Bang and the origins of time. He lives in France, where the acclaimed astrophysicist has the status of a rock star. In Quebec, where he was born, he is called their Einstein. And yet he's largely unknown in the English-speaking world. Not only is he a brilliant cosmologist; he's also a riveting storyteller and popularizer of science. Not to explain the complex, he says, is undemocratic. This is part 2 of a 2-part series.

America's Other Civil War

The term "coup d'état" usually applies to the violent takeover of a nation. But the phenomenon has occurred within American cities as well. In the decades after the Civil War, four American cities over four decades saw white civilians -- and officials -- attack and destroy thousands of African-American properties, businesses and lives. Contributor Melissa Gismondi examines each incident to exhume the socio-cultural dynamics at work -- and how they persist today.

The Little Prince: The Child Philosopher

"And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: it is only with the heart that we see correctly; what is most important is invisible to the eye." The Little Prince was first published in 1943. And since then, it's sold 200 million copies, in 300 languages. And we're still trying to figure out what it is: a children's fable, a philosophical tale, or even an autobiography of its author, Antoine de Saint Exupéry? Danny Braun of Radio-Canada presents his documentary about the enduring magic of this deceptively simple classic.

Confronting the Disinformation Age

Fake news. Foreign meddling. Fraud. Deliberate deception. We consume all of it, sometimes not knowing the source or what is true. A recent panel discussion presented at Simon Fraser University's Public Square Community Summit examines what we can do to confront the epidemic of disinformation.

How good can we really be without God?

Is atheism getting too big for its britches? And why is that a problem? Christian Smith is Professor of Sociology at the University of Notre Dame. In his new book "Atheist Overreach: What Atheism Can’t Deliver", he argues that contemporary atheists are making claims that are "neither rationally defensible nor realistic".

Finding meaning in the universe with astrophysicist Hubert Reeves, Part 1

Hubert Reeves is one of the world's foremost experts on the Big Bang and the origins of time. He lives in France, where the acclaimed astrophysicist has the status of a rock star. In Quebec, where he was born, he is called their Einstein. And yet he's largely unknown in the English-speaking world. Not only is he a brilliant cosmologist; he's also a riveting storyteller and popularizer of science. Not to explain the complex, he says, is undemocratic. Hubert Reeves is now 86, and speaks with producer Mary Lynk at his country home in Burgundy, outdoors and under the stars.
Ideas Afternoon

Exploring the eighth continent with Canopy Meg

Trees and forests could hold the key to the survival of life on our planet. Meg Lowman started climbing trees when she was still a painfully shy primary school student, in a small town in upstate New York. They became her closest companions whenever her human classmates started bullying her. She eventually became a pioneer of canopy science, and created a system of forest walkways that now extends around the world. She's been hailed as "Einstein of the Treetops", but is better known by the nickname, Canopy Meg. Paul Kennedy visited the self-described "arbonaut" in person to ask her whether trees can save the world.
Ideas Afternoon

The Dangers of Denialism

"Denial is about hiding from the truth. Denialism builds a 'new and better' truth." Keith Kahn-Harris, a researcher and lecturer at the University of London, says the challenge of confronting denialism is that denialists don't see themselves as rejecters of truth. They see themselves as having the actual truth, one that the rest of us can't see or accept. Keith Kahn-Harris in conversation with IDEAS producer Naheed Mustafa.
Ideas Afternoon

The First Stone: Jesus, the Accused and Us

Variously called 'Jesus and the Woman Caught in Adultery', 'Jesus and the Accused', and the 'Pericope Adulterae', this story, found in the Gospel of John, still throws off reflections and refractions today. Jesus' message is stark: "Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." And the history of the text is unique. IDEAS producer Sean Foley asks: What happens in this story? Where did it come from? And what does it say to us about some of our deepest contemporary dilemmas?

Reading Montaigne: Why a 16th century writer still matters today

Michel de Montaigne was many things: a 16th century French writer, bureaucrat, and self-defined accidental philosopher. He’s also the inventor of a new literary form we now call the essay. His Essais – various "trials" or "experiments" in ideas – have touched centuries of readers and writers. Flaubert once exhorted us to "read him in order to live." Contributor Tony Luppino opens the writings and life of Western literature's original 'free thinker', who wrote on everything from idleness and liars, to wearing clothes and punishing cowardice.

Reclaiming Marxism in an age of meaningless work

The absurdities and humiliations of late capitalism — social atomization, the gig economy, brutalizing inequality — have given new life to Karl Marx. While known best for his economic theorizing, Marx has found new favour for his rigorous humanism. Those most vulnerable to the vagaries of capitalism are seeing in Marx a framework for understanding their own humanity.