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Top diplomat Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein takes us inside the backrooms of global diplomacy

In Part 2 of The Unconventional Diplomat, former UN Human Rights Chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein continues a fascinating tour through the backrooms of global diplomacy. He explains why he refused to go on bended “knee in supplication” before the UN Security Council and shares his advice on how to be a good citizen.

Former UN Human Rights Chief says we must be bolder in calling out world leaders

In a well-known 2016 speech in diplomatic circles, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein called out powerful world leaders. But he laments a “fearfulness” currently within the UN. IDEAS producer Mary Lynk sits down for a rare feature interview to reveal the story behind the moment when breaking conventional rules was imperative.

The Written City: Dany Laferrière's Paris

Dany Laferrière is one of the most celebrated writers in Canadian literary history. He has over 27 books to his name, and a raft of awards and honours — including the Order of Canada, and the Prix Medicis. In 2013, he was elected to the prestigious Académie Française in Paris — where he now lives. Radio-Canada contributor Danny Braun met up with Laferrière to talk about the his latest book, Self-Portrait of Paris with Cat.

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.

The Stolen Revolution: Iranian Women of 1979

After finally ousting the Shah, and just mere weeks after Ayatollah Khomeini took power, Iranian women marched to show their fury at the revolution, which now seemed to be turning against them. On the 40th anniversary of their protests, CBC Radio producer Donya Ziaee spoke to three Iranian women who were there — on the streets of Tehran, fighting to to turn the tide of history.
IDEAS AFTERNOON

Olive Senior delivers prestigious 2019 Margaret Laurence Lecture: A Writer's Life

With wit and heart, Olive Senior delivered the 2019 Margaret Lawrence Lecture to a packed audience. Born in Jamaica in 1941, the seventh of 10 children, she went on to become one of Canada’s most acclaimed writers. Hear excerpts from her lecture, readings of her work and a conversation with IDEAS producer Mary Lynk.

People are turning to this late American philosopher in troubled times

Thanks to his politically centrist views, his praise for patriotism, and his disdain for talk of 'objective truth,' philosopher Richard Rorty succeeded in enraging progressives and conservatives alike. But his friends and fans believe the rage is largely misplaced. The real Rorty was a subtle, empathetic, moral thinker whose ideas could be the most useful contribution U.S. philosophy has to offer today's polarized and fractured democracies.

Ought vs. Is: Reclaiming nature as a moral guide

Throughout the centuries, politicians, theologians and philosophers have pointed to nature as a way to guide our actions and beliefs. The equivalence between "unnatural" and "bad" seems to be as durable as ever. But philosophical anthropologist Lorraine Daston doesn't think using "nature" as a guide is necessarily all bad.

The Pulpit, Power & Politics: Evangelicalism's thumbprint on America

The grip conservative evangelicalism has on American social and political life is hard to overestimate. Committed Christian and author Jemar Tisby was joined by historians of religion John Fea and Molly Worthen to help answer the question: what exactly is the relationship between conservative evangelicalism and America today?

The Relativity Revolution: Albert Einstein and the making of the modern world

In 1905, when Albert Einstein worked as a patent office clerk, he published a series of academic papers that revolutionized physics and our thinking about space and time, mass and energy. His ideas were a great leap forward. Panellists at the Stratford Festival discuss how Einstein revolutionized how we live our lives today.

IDEAS schedule for December 2019

Highlights include: philosophical anthropologist Lorraine Daston on reclaiming nature as a moral guidepost (Dec. 5); a rare feature interview with former UN Human Rights Chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein (Dec 12-13); examining prison abolition — has prison outlived its purpose? (Dec 18); the spirituality of the saxophone (Dec. 19); and author Stephen Law takes us through the philosophical quagmire of the holidays (Dec. 23).

Joseph Conrad, Prophet of a Global World

Seen from today, the novelist Joseph Conrad's early 20th century views on the world, particularly on race, can be offensive. Yet his observations were deeply prescient of modern times. V.S. Naipaul, who was also a harsh critic, once wrote how Conrad managed — 100 years ago — to "meditate on my world, a world I recognize today." Harvard historian Maya Jasanoff tackles that question in her acclaimed biography of Joseph Conrad.
IDEAS AFTERNOON

Does the deep state exist? Journalist Bruce Livesey investigates

The term 'deep state' has been used by both the political left and the right. In broad strokes, it means official leaders of a country aren't the real leaders — that hidden away in bureaucracies or other corridors of power are the real lever-pullers. Investigative journalist, Bruce Livesey examines the origins of the conflicted term, and where it's in operation today.

Changing climate is affecting how we feed ourselves

David Nabarro, a longtime advisor to the UN on sustainable development, says climate change is forcing us to rethink how our food systems work — and figure out the best way to get people the food they need without further degrading the environment.

What happens when atheists take religion seriously?

In the grip of such a fundamental disagreement — the existence (or not) of God — we’re likely to witness outrage, derision, and irrational arguments, if an exchange occurs at all. So given an hour, and some goodwill, this question is a good one to explore. And if we can handle this one, maybe we can counter the current tendency toward insult and polarization.

How data is being used for social good, to build a better world

We live in a glut of data. Individually we produce vast amounts of information about ourselves simply by living our lives: where we go, what we like, where we shop, our political views, which programs we watch. IDEAS contributor Anik See looks into how people are harnessing data, not for surveillance or selling, but rather for the public good.

Planet You: The mysterious world of the microbiome

Microbes have existed on earth for more than three and a half billion years. There are trillions of them on — and in — our bodies. Makes you wonder who’s playing host to whom, and whether we humans are merely vessels for these tiny survivors that influence everything from intestinal disorders to mental health conditions.

Canada as a middle power in an upended world: Time for a foreign policy reset?

As chaotic and unpredictable as the world can be, there was — at least for a time — an international rules-based order, underpinned by U.S. leadership that ensured at least a semblance of stability. That order is in decline. So what's a middle power like Canada to do? What can it do?
IDEAS AFTERNOON

What psychiatrists still don't know about mental illness

How can it be that psychiatry still doesn’t know what causes major mental problems such as depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia? Historian Anne Harrington and writer Marya Hornbacher explore psychiatry’s messy medical past and surprisingly uncertain present.

The Desert: a well-spring of the imagination

Deserts cover nearly one-third of the earth's landmass of the earth, but we're still unsure what to make of them. Sometimes we consider them empty wastelands fit only to build on or test atomic bombs. Other times, we see them as beautiful landscapes, whose tranquil, isolated features inspire us to reach towards the divine. IDEAS producer Matthew Lazin-Ryder explores our historically complicated, and yet intimate, relationship with deserts.

Machines of Chance: How casino culture plays with us

We all know that "the house always wins," and yet continue to gamble against the odds. This documentary asks experts and observers to reflect on the casino as reality and metaphor. Skill versus luck, attention and distraction, fortune paired with loss: the casino reflects us, individually and culturally, back to ourselves.

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. IDEAS producer Sean Foley asks: What does this story say about some of our deepest contemporary dilemmas?

How rethinking capitalism may save the planet

If the earth is to survive catastrophic climate change, the economies of the world can't continue to grow infinitely. Maintaining the status quo makes ecological viability impossible. Mathematician and philosopher David Schweickart asks whether there is another way forward for capitalism, one in which the choice isn't between the economy and life itself.
IDEAS AFTERNOON

Does the deep state exist? Journalist Bruce Livesey investigates

The term 'deep state' has been used by both the political left and the right. In broad strokes, it means official leaders of a country aren't the real leaders — that hidden away in bureaucracies or other corridors of power are the real lever-pullers. Investigative journalist, Bruce Livesey examines the origins of the conflicted term, and where it's in operation today.
IDEAS AFTERNOON

Lessons off Broadway: Princeton professor dissects zeitgeist in musicals

The Broadway musical is an art form both beloved and maligned. Whether you love it or hate it, the Broadway musical has the power to tap into the zeitgeist, capturing and propelling social change. Princeton musical theatre scholar Stacy Wolf takes host Nahlah Ayed on a tour of the hidden power of musicals from the 1950s to today.