Ideas

IDEAS schedule for January 2020

Highlights include: a former Catholic sister Karen Armstrong on recovering "the lost art of scripture." (Jan. 6); a two-part series on the social history of chairs (Jan. 9-10); a look at what can we learn from Darwin at this stage of civilization (Jan. 24); and making the case for a civic media manifesto (Jan. 23).

January 1
IDEAS' NEW YEARS LEVEE
Whenever January 1st happens to fall on a weekday, we convene what we call our "almost-annual levee." It commemorates a custom from New France, where the colonial governor opened the doors of his mansion every New Year's Day, to share some holiday cheer with the general population, and listen to their current concerns and hopes for the future. Here at IDEAS, we throw open the studio doors, and talk to some of the people who are preparing shows that you'll be hearing over the next season. We'll be digging deeply into everything from 19th century Persian travelogs to the power of universal rhythms. Happy 2020!


January 2
THE KILLAM PRIZE — CANADA'S 'NOBEL'
Meet the five top Canadian scholars who won the 2019 Killam Prize for reaching new heights in their disciplines. Lynne Viola exposes hidden stories of Stalin's Russia. Keith Hipel takes an engineer's approach to fixing the climate change debate. Yoshua Bengio is bringing us computers that learn and think. André Blais investigates what makes democratic elections work better. And Stephen Scherer is helping science read into the human genome. *Originally broadcast on September 6, 2019.


January 3
ANIMALS UNDER THE LAW
Under the eyes of the law, animals that live in our homes or on a farm are 'property.' But there's a growing movement to grant some animals like chimpanzees, elephants and dolphins the status of 'non-human persons'. Harvard Law School doctoral candidate, Jessica Eisen, thinks the law could, and should, go even further. *Originally broadcast on March 22, 2019.



January 6
THE LOST ART OF SCRIPTURE
Karen Armstrong is a former Catholic sister who resided in a convent, and is now a hugely popular writer on religious beliefs who travels the world. She now describes herself as a freelance monotheist. Her focus now is on the sounds, rituals and power of scripture, all of which she feels is endangered in our secular, digital age. She joins Nahlah Ayed to talk about recovering what she calls "the lost art of scripture."


January 7
THE ENRIGHT FILES
The notion that animals are intelligent, thinking, feeling beings with rich and complex emotional lives is part of mythology and folklore — of fantasy movies and children's literature. Until relatively recently, though, it has not been a mainstream idea in science. But as science grapples with just how little it knows about the mysteries of human consciousness, it's also taking a second look at the behaviour of animals, and reassessing the complexity of animal minds and taking seriously the dignity of animals. 


January 8
KILLER ROBOTS
What happens if autonomous weapons fight our wars? What if they select and kill targets without any human intervention? The world is closer to this scenario than ever before. But there's no consensus on whether — or even how — it would ever be ethical. This episode delves into the complex conundrums of robot warfare. *Originally broadcast on September 19, 2019.


January 9
MACHINES FOR SITTING: A SOCIAL HISTORY OF CHAIRS, PART 1
What is a chair? It's a standard question in philosophy class. But what actually is the purpose of a chair? Well, you might say- for sitting in! But not so fast: a chair is also about power and status: who has the big chair, or the chair with arms? The very appearance of a chair also reveals a lot about the the where and the when of the culture which produced it. And then there are cultures that don't have chairs at all. A two-part series with Witold Rybczynski, author of Now I Sit Me Down, exploring the social history of chairs, the stories chairs tell, and how they've changed through history (hint: not as much as you'd think). Part one: Old Chairs. A tour through the historical collection of chairs at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, including one of the oldest chairs we know of, an Egyptian folding stool from 1400 BCE.


January 10
MACHINES FOR SITTING: A SOCIAL HISTORY OF CHAIRS, PART 2
What is a chair? It's a standard question in philosophy class. But what actually is the purpose of a chair? Well, you might say- for sitting in! But not so fast: a chair is also about power and status: who has the big chair, or the chair with arms? The very appearance of a chair also reveals a lot about the where and the when of the culture which produced it. And then there are cultures that don't have chairs at all. A two-part series with Witold Rybczynski, author of Now I Sit Me Down, exploring the social history of chairs, the stories chairs tell, and how they've changed through history (hint: not as much as you'd think).  Part 2: New Chairs. A visit to the DWR store in New York, and a look at some of the most important designer chairs of the 20th Century. 



January 13
REFRAMING MENOPAUSE
Is The Change always "women's hell?" Is it possible that the negative way we think about menopause has an effect on how women actually experience menopause? Writer Darcey Steinke and historian Susan Mattern reframe an often-dreaded transition, and reclaim the power of post-reproductive life. *Originally broadcast on September 5, 2019.


January 14
LIBERAL ARTS IN THE 21ST CENTURY: SANTA J. ONO'S CARR LECTURE
Santa J. Ono is a biologist, award-winning professor, a cellist, and passionate advocate of a liberal arts education. The President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of British Columbia delivered the 2019 Carr Lecture at St. Mark's College in Vancouver. Professor Ono argues that the values imparted by a liberal arts education are a crucial part of our response to the challenges now facing humankind, from environmental sustainability to political cynicism; from artificial intelligence to addressing historical injustices. But he's concerned that the liberal arts — including the sciences — are no longer held in high enough esteem in our specialized, technologized society. You'll hear selections of Santa Ono's lecture as well as a conversation with IDEAS host, Nahlah Ayed. 


January 15
MISUNDERSTOOD: ADAM SMITH
The 18th-century philosopher Adam Smith is often called "the father of economics," and sometimes "the father of capitalism." IDEAS contributor Matthew Lazin-Ryder examines how Smith's name has been used and abused to both defend and attack free-market economics since his death.


January 16
THE BEAUTIFUL MATH OF MARYAM MIRZAKHANI
Maryam Mirzakhani was a woman of many firsts: she was the first woman to compete on the Iranian math Olympiad team; the first to score a perfect score; the first woman to win the "Nobel Prize" of mathematics, the Fields Medal. Like the mathematics she studied, Maryam Mirzakhani was complicated and complex. Her untimely death has led people to wonder what other astonishing things Maryam could have achieved and the legacy she leaves behind from the work she devoted her life to.


January 17
COMPLEXITY FRONTIER
In 1941, the Nazi Enigma machine could encrypt a billion-billion different combinations each time it was used. It was thought to be impossible to decode. But Alan Turing and others cracked it, and helped the Allies win the war. Now computers are billions of times more powerful than the one Turing used. What future awaits us? Will machines be able to think just like humans? 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.



January 20
THE PROMISED LAND: IN SEARCH OF FREEDOM, PROSPERITY AND LAND BACK FOR INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
"I tell stories to people who haven't seen what I've seen so that they can be called to do something, called to learn, called to change their behaviour."  Max FineDay is not yet 30 years old, but he's making his mark as he travels across the country talking about reconciliation to Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.  His goal is to clear a path for Indigenous youth to set their sights high and achieve economic and personal success. Max FineDay delivered the fifth annual Indigenous Speaker Series at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo, BC. His talk and a powerful question and answer session make up this episode of IDEAS.


January 21
IDEAS FROM THE TRENCHES: BLACK SURVEILLANCE IN CANADA
Canada's history of suppressing Black activism is coming to light like never before, thanks to researchers like PhD student Wendell Adjetey. Wendell's historical research uncovers evidence of clandestine government surveillance in the 20th century, while also bringing to life overlooked parts of this history. *Originally broadcast on August 9, 2018.


January 22
A QUESTION OF GENOCIDE: THE ROHINGYA CRISIS 
The International Court of Justice will announce whether it will proceed with allegations that Myanmar has committed genocide against the Rohingya people. IDEAS shares some of the evidence presented in the courtroom during the December hearings — evidence collected by human rights observers and by a UN investigative commission.


January 23
JOURNALISM UNDER ASSAULT: WHY WE NEED A CIVIC MEDIA MANIFESTO
How can independent, civic-minded journalism survive in a world dominated by corporate media takeovers and fake news? Acclaimed academic and journalist Emily Bell negotiates this critical crossroad for the media in her dynamic 2019 Dalton Camp Lecture, combined with a conversation she had with IDEAS producer Mary Lynk — including revelations about her personal experiences with arch-competitor, Rupert Murdoch. Bell is the director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism and a Guardian columnist. 


January 24
JOURNALISM UNDER ASSAULT: WHY WE NEED A CIVIC MEDIA MANIFESTO, PART TWO
How can independent, civic-minded journalism survive in a world dominated by corporate media takeovers and fake news? Acclaimed academic and journalist Emily Bell negotiates this critical crossroad for the media in her dynamic 2019 Dalton Camp Lecture, combined with a conversation she had with IDEAS producer Mary Lynk — including revelations about her personal experiences with arch-competitor, Rupert Murdoch. Bell is the director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism and a Guardian columnist. 



January 27
WINNERS TAKE ALL: ANAND GIRIDHARADAS
We're used to governments taking part of our tax dollars to spend on social projects and international development. But increasingly, wealthy private citizens are setting up their own social development non-profit agencies, and substituting their own values about who gets how much and for what, in some cases superseding the values and priorities of more neutral international bodies. It's the Gates Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative vs the United Nations and Oxfam. A former McKinsey analyst has a problem with this trend, and he's written a book about it. Anand Giridharadas in conversation with Nahlah Ayed.


January 28
DA VINCI'S CELIBACY
At a time when castration was one of the punishments for homosexuality, Leonardo da Vinci kept his sexuality secret as best he could, leaving many questions surrounding his seeming commitment to celibacy. He painted and drew exquisite images of penises, for example, but struggled with his depictions of the female genitalia. Historian Elizabeth Abbott traces da Vinci's complex relationship with sexuality, and through explores the fraught social milieu of the Renaissance world he lived in and helped shape. 


January 29
HOW TO ARGUE
There's been a lot of hand-wringing about the threat to liberal democracy from foreign agencies. But much less so about what's undermining democracy from within. American Philosophers Robert Talisse and Scott Aiken believe it is the simulated nature of political argument and disagreement that is eating away at democracy, creating democratic dysfunction—and even the physical separation between adversaries in the public space. Nahlah Ayed speaks to both about the dynamics of the problem, and how to imagine possible solutions.  *Originally broadcast on September 26, 2019.


January 30
IMAGINED IRELAND: DECLAN KIBERD
A people get a sense of who they are through their artists, primarily the writers and poets who, through words and stories, reflect images and identities that are recognisable and somehow familiar. Irish scholar Declan Kiberd has written about this making of identity for Ireland- with the added layer that much of Irish identity has a colonialist residue, Ireland as a vassal state of Britain for a millennium, and its self-image shaped by the British. Declan Kiberd in conversation with IDEAS producer Philip Coulter.


January 31
THE TEENAGE BRAIN
Teenagers can be erratic and emotional. Sullen one moment and ecstatic the next. The logic behind their decision making could stump a genius — and let's not even talk about the risks an average teen is willing to take. All this could drive the most level headed parent or teacher to distraction. But recent science may just have the answer to the question of why teenagers are the way they are. And it's not just about hormones. This new understanding is changing the way some societies see teens and it may just lead to us to redraw the boundary between teenager and adult. 

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