Ideas

Ideas

www.cbc.ca/radio/podcasts/documentaries/the-best-of-ideas
IDEAS is a deep-dive into contemporary thought and intellectual history. No topic is off-limits. In the age of clickbait and superficial headlines, it’s for people who like to think.


Peace, Order, and Good Geometry
May 26 • 54 min
The story of geometry is bound up in the Renaissance, the rise of nation states, and the expression of absolute power. Geometric designs came to represent order in the universe. But order’s war with chaos continues — just compare the geometric plans for…
Myths on Screen: Hollywood at War, Part 3
May 25 • 54 min
Warning: Explicit Content | 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.
Inside the teenage brain: How science is helping us understand adolescents
May 22 • 54 min
Teenagers can be erratic and emotional. But recent science may just have the answer to 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…
The Rise of the Glorified Spinster
May 21 • 54 min
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…
Olive Senior delivers prestigious 2019 Margaret Laurence Lecture: A Writer’s Life
May 20 • 54 min
Olive Senior was 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 2019 Margaret Laurence Lecture, readings from her work and a conversation with IDEAS producer Mary…
The Cult Movie Canon
May 19 • 54 min
They’re weird. They break the rules. They’re kinda bad. They are cult movies. Dive into the stories of films from ‘Troll 2’ to ‘The Last Dragon’ to the ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ to learn what drives people to watch these oddball films again and again.…
Myths on Screen: Hollywood at War, Part 2
May 18 • 54 min
Warning: Explicit Content | 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.
Mapping the Heavens: Yale astrophysicist Priya Natarajan
May 15 • 54 min
In 2019, the first up-close image of a black hole was recorded. And yet, so much about them, their bizarre properties and the role they play in the universe remains a mystery. The distinguished Yale astrophysicist Priya Natarajan dives into black holes…
Beyond Tragedy: The living history of Native America
May 14 • 54 min
Warning: Explicit language | The massacre of over 150 Lakota at Wounded Knee in 1890 is often taken to be the “end” of Native American history — a notion unintentionally reinforced by Dee Brown’s 1970 book, “I Buried My Heart at Wounded Knee.” This idea…
Reading with a Grain of Salt, Part 1
May 13 • 54 min
We tend to think that reading is a sign of intelligence, that we’re improved by it. But are our assumptions well-founded? Not really, according to an array of literary front runners. Writer Barbara Nichol explores assumptions we have about reading,…
Bread: The Rise and Fall
May 12 • 54 min
Bread is a simple food and a staple item across the world. Bread is life. But for some, it represents a wrong turn in our species’ evolution. Through conversation with bakers, religious leaders, historians and bread aficionados, producer Veronica Simmonds…
Myths on Screen: Hollywood at War, Part 1
May 11 • 54 min
The U.S. military had some little-known help in spinning public perception about it over the last seventy years: Hollywood. This series shows how movies functioned as the unofficial — but massively influential — propaganda arm of America’s war efforts.
The Coffee Chronicles: The story of the world’s most popular drink
May 8 • 54 min
An ordinary cup of Joe just won’t do anymore. It’s now gourmet, fair trade and organic. Whether the method is pour over, French press, or vacuum pumps, coffee is now described with terms like “mouthfeel”, just as fine wines are. Contributing producer…
How elite do-gooders ‘fixing’ the world are part of the problem: Anand Giridharadas
May 7 • 54 min
Should the world’s problems be solved by unelected elites? Surely these are decisions we all need to be part of. Anand Giridharadas argues if we don’t trust the institutions we have for fixing the world, then it’s time to build better institutions — from…
Justicia Canadiana: Jean Teillet
May 6 • 54 min
Justice is not blind in Canada’s legal system, argues Métis lawyer Jean Teillet. She says it needs to view Indigenous people fully to render justice fairly.
The Desert: a well-spring of the imagination
May 5 • 54 min
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, other times we see them as beautiful landscape. IDEAS producer Matthew Lazin-Ryder explores our…
Enright Files: What we should have learned from the SARS outbreak
May 4 • 54 min
Seventeen years before the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, another mysterious, virulent respiratory illness suddenly appeared — SARS. On the Enright Files, conversations with public health experts from those unnerving times, as they were assessing what we…
The Great Leveler: Dr. Paul Farmer on the fight for equal health care
May 1 • 54 min
Co-founder of Partners in Health Dr. Paul Farmer says the COVID-19 pandemic offers many lessons and opportunities for the world, including a chance to reorient how we think about who deserves access to a high standard of healthcare.
The Rhythm Section: How Beats and Grooves Define Us
Apr 30 • 54 min
Rhythm is of course a fundamental part of music. But neuroscience is revealing that it’s also a fundamental part of our innermost selves: how we learn to walk, talk, read and even bond with others. From heartbeats heard in the womb, to the underlying…
Re-Engineering Humanity: Brett Frischmann (Part Two)
Apr 29 • 54 min
Digital network technologies are re-engineering our lives, according to legal scholar Brett Frischmann. In part two of our series, IDEAS explores ways to prevent ourselves from becoming wards of the technologists. First step: we need to wake up to this…
Dear Leader: Notes from the time of cholera
Apr 28 • 54 min
Leading in the time of COVID-19 is to lead when a virus is calling the shots. In 1892, Hamburg had its own devastating cholera outbreak. According to historian Sir Richard Evans, how authorities navigated the pandemic offers surprisingly relevant lessons…
The Forest Floor of the Art World: Marc Mayer at MOCA
Apr 27 • 54 min
We’re dazzled, and sometimes frazzled, by our encounters with contemporary art. Marc Mayer, former director of the National Gallery of Canada, draws back the curtain to show what’s behind the art that seduces — and confounds — us.
The Old Masters: Decoding pre-historic art with Jean Clottes
Apr 24 • 54 min
The songs and stories of prehistoric humans are gone. All that remains of their culture is their art. IDEAS contributor Neil Sandell introduces us to the French archaeologist Jean Clottes, a man who’s devoted his lifetime trying to decipher the rich,…
How to avoid conflict: Lessons from 16th century Italian duels
Apr 23 • 54 min
York University PhD student and master fencer, Aaron Miedema has been researching over 300 cases of duels from the 16th and 17th century. Turns out there are lessons for us from 500 years ago which may prove useful in today’s climate of public blaming and…
Re-Engineering Humanity: Brett Frischmann (Part One)
Apr 22 • 54 min
American legal scholar Brett Frischmann says we have to wake up to the risk of losing our humanity to 21st techno-social engineering. He warns humans are heading down an ill-advised path that is making us behave like ‘perfectly predictable’ simple…
2020 Gelber Prize: From freedom to extremism in Central Europe
Apr 21 • 54 min
Extreme leaders, inequality, and unhappy citizens: what happened to the promise of a new day in Eastern and Central Europe? From the fall of the Wall to this pandemic era, looking at the legacy of an ill-fitting “politics of imitation,” with 2020 Gelber…
Paradise Lost, Part 2: After the Fall
Apr 20 • 54 min
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…
The Terrors or the Time: Lessons from historic plagues
Apr 17 • 54 min
Coronavirus isn’t the first pandemic to sweep the world. Typhoid and flu killed millions. But history’s really big killer was the bubonic plague. Three historians discuss what we can learn from the history of plagues of the past.
The Brilliance of Beavers: Learning from an Anishnaabe World
Apr 16 • 54 min
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…
Until the End of Time: Brian Greene
Apr 14 • 54 min
As the COVID-19 crisis trudges on, a physicist contemplates the ultimate end of the universe… and marvels at the wonder of all existence.
“You Might Need Some Richard Rorty”
Apr 13 • 54 min
“He is a nemesis to many, and is claimed as a friend by only very few,” wrote Eduardo Mendieta about Richard Rorty, the most quoted, most criticized, and most widely read of recent U.S. philosophers. Rorty died in 2007, but a passionate crew of ‘Rortyans’…
Jacob wrestling his ‘angel’ is our own struggle
Apr 10 • 54 min
Jacob, the biblical patriarch, seems far from our time. But his all-night wrestling match with a strange being throws shadows across the ages, and exposes powerful elements of our own humanity. IDEAS producer Sean Foley explains how this ancient story…
Forty years on, Edward Said’s ‘Orientalism’ still groundbreaking
Apr 9 • 54 min
Edward Said’s seminal book, Orientalism (1978), proposed one of the most influential and enduring analyses of the relationship between the West and the Middle East. In many ways, his ideas seem uncontroversial, perhaps even obvious today. But four decades…
The Democracy of Suffering: Todd Dufresne
Apr 8 • 54 min
We’re all in this together, suffering equally, as the planet struggles through the Anthropocene age — an era created by human activity. It’s why the author of The Democracy of Suffering, Todd Dufresne, calling on philosophy — and all of us — to…
The Best We Can Do — the pragmatic views of Cheryl Misak and young Frank Ramsey
Apr 7 • 54 min
Is there anything better than “the best we can do”? According to some pragmatic philosophers, it’s not about settling for less but constantly pushing for more, and more. IDEAS presents the case for a particular, ‘moderate’ brand of pragmatism that may be…
The Enright Files: How books from the past can help explain the present
Apr 6 • 54 min
The world’s greatest writers have spent millennia chronicling their own times and world-changing events — and imagining all the conundrums and catastrophes that might confront humanity. On The Enright Files, a conversation inspired by books from the past…
Take it like a Stoic: coping in the time of coronavirus
Apr 3 • 54 min
Early Stoics knew all about crisis: They lived through wars, exile and episodes of infectious disease, as well as the loss of loved ones. In the time of coronavirus, modern Stoics say their predecessors have lessons that speak directly to coping with the…
Sailing Alone Around The World, Part Two
Apr 2 • 54 min
The Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica is the most dangerous and least understood of our great oceans. IDEAS producer Philip Coulter joins solo sailors and a historian on a radio expedition to find out about what happens to people who go to the…
Machines of Chance: How casino culture plays with us
Apr 1 • 54 min
Casinos: if the house always wins, why do we play? How the universal temptations of both vice and risk — not to mention the language of Brexit — feed into the 24/7 slot machine of our “casino culture.”
The Shakespeare Conspiracy
Mar 31 • 54 min
The internet is awash in conspiracy theories. In this lecture, Simon Fraser University professor Paul Budra examines conspiracy theories as an art form, using the long-running conspiracy theories over Shakespeare as a test case.
Sailing Alone Around The World, Part One
Mar 30 • 54 min
In 1895 a retired Canadian sea captain set off to sail alone around the world. It had never been done. Since then, fewer than 200 people have sailed in his wake and two of them are Canadian. In this 2013 episode of IDEAS, producer Philip Coulter explores…
CBC Massey Lecture # 5: Shifting Power | Toronto
Mar 23 • 54 min
The irresistible force meets the immovable object: the long fight for women’s equality with men is perhaps nearing a conclusion. Women all over the world are demanding a better, more equitable place with men — and they need men to stand by their side.…
CBC Massey Lecture # 4: When the Patriarchy Meets the Matriarchy | Montreal
Mar 23 • 54 min
Populism is bad for women — so much of the rise in authoritarian governments is based on the dream of returning to an idealized past, when a woman knew her place was in the kitchen. Populism also targets women’s rights and their push for equal status. In…
CBC Massey Lecture # 3: A Holy Paradox | Fredericton
Mar 23 • 54 min
Most religions try to explain what the universe means and why we’re here. More often than not, many of these explanations entail women having lower status than men. Award-winning journalist, Sally Armstrong focuses her third CBC Massey Lecture on the…
CBC Massey Lecture # 2: The Mating Game | Vancouver
Mar 23 • 54 min
In Sally Armstrong’s second lecture, she explores sex: the history of sex for procreation, for pleasure, for business. In our time, monogamy is the norm, but evolutionary biology suggests that in prehistory, it wasn’t. Throughout history, we’ve seen…
CBC Massey Lecture # 1: In the Beginning(s) | Whitehorse
Mar 23 • 54 min
“There’s never been a better time in human history to be a woman,” says Sally Armstrong in the first of her first 2019 CBC Massey Lectures: Power Shift: The Longest Revolution. The acclaimed journalist and activist argues that women are closer to gaining…
The Pulpit, Power and Politics: Evangelicalism’s thumbprint on America
Mar 20 • 54 min
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…
Maoism: A Story of its History and Revival
Mar 19 • 54 min
If you thought Maoism was dead, think again. It’s enjoying a revival under President Xi Jinping. With tensions between China and the West on the rise, award- winning author Julia Lovell argues the need to understand the political legacy of Mao is crucial.
Does the deep state exist?
Mar 18 • 54 min
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.…
Psychologists confront impossible finding, triggering a revolution in the field
Mar 17 • 54 min
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…
Imagining the World: Darwin and the Idea of Evolution
Mar 16 • 54 min
Darwin’s ideas about evolution shifted the way we think about the place of humans in the world: we’re not so special, just another life form with a bigger brain and opposable thumbs. What else can we learn from Darwin in this late stage of civilisation? A…
Paradise Lost: Better to Reign in Hell
Mar 13 • 54 min
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…
The Joy of Mediocrity
Mar 12 • 54 min
Sick of aiming for excellence and feeling miserable when you fall short? You’re not alone. Explore the upsides of imperfection, lowered expectations, and outright failure with philosopher Daniel Milo, writer Avram Alpert, School of Life teacher Sarah…
What is Democracy? Astra Taylor says it’s worth fighting for
Mar 11 • 54 min
Canadian-American filmmaker and writer Astra Taylor admits that for most of her life the term “democracy” held little appeal. But when she took on the what-is-democracy question, her inquiry turned into a belief that while it may not fully exist,…
Fighting for democracy from the bottom up | Astra Taylor, Pt 2
Mar 10 • 54 min
Filmmaker, writer and activist Astra Taylor sets out to answer a question we rarely ask: what is democracy? Her conclusion: democracy doesn’t exist — at least, not quite. And yet, she says, it’s still worth fighting for. Taylor takes us on a walking tour…
The Travels of Mirza Saleh Shirazi
Mar 9 • 54 min
In the 18th and 19th centuries, a series of Persian travellers from Iran and India to visit cities all over the world. They wrote popular travelogues describing the cultures and ideas they encountered and asked the questions fundamental to all of us: who…
The New Masters: The 2019 Sobey Art Award, Part 2
Mar 6 • 54 min
Ideas producer Mary Lynk in conversation with the 2019 Sobey Art Award finalists Anne Low and Kablusiak and winner Stephanie Comilang.
The New Masters: The 2019 Sobey Art Award, Part 1
Mar 5 • 54 min
IDEAS producer Mary Lynk in conversation with 2019 Sobey Art Award finalists D’Arcy Wilson and Nicolas Grenier.
The saxophone and the spirit: the sax’s forgotten spiritual roots
Mar 3 • 54 min
The shiny, handsome and undeniably cool saxophone has been a staple of jazz music and popular culture for nearly a century. But some music historians say that what’s often been overlooked are its deep roots in spiritual beliefs and religious ritual.
The Enright Files: Conversations about opera and the people who make it
Mar 2 • 54 min
It’s hard to think of a musical genre with a more fearsome reputation for being rarefied, forbidding and just plain snooty than opera. But before the 20th century, opera was popular entertainment — music for the masses. It’s just as full of quirks,…
A symbol of failure: The resurgence of border walls
Feb 28 • 54 min
Canadian author and journalist Marcello Di Cintio is a wall traveller and says the 21st century has been a boom time for walls. In 2012, he wrote a book about our walled world and has made it his business to track them since. The Twenty-Walled Century is…
How the Hungarian border fence remains a political symbol
Feb 27 • 54 min
Beginning in 2015 a great wave of migrants flooded Europe. Hungary built a fence to keep everyone out. In part four of our series, Walking the Border: Walls That Divide Us, Nahlah Ayed visits the Hungarian border that divides the country from Serbia and…
Where Is Our Conscience? Patricia Churchland on the biological roots of morality
Feb 21 • 54 min
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,…
The Death of Leisure
Feb 20 • 54 min
As soon as the inbox is cleared and the dishes are put away and the report is submitted and laundry is done, only then can we think about how to pursue the things we value. So how do we reconfigure our relationship to the time we have and open it up so we…
Our fractured, fractious age in one sentence: Lucy Ellmann
Feb 19 • 54 min
Lucy Ellmann’s Booker-nominated Ducks, Newburyport, captures our fractious, fractured age through the eyes of a likeable, pie-baking housewife in Ohio in an epic running one thousand pages long in one, single sentence.
Into the Wild: Anthropologist Wade Davis
Feb 18 • 54 min
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…
True History in the Age of Fake News: The 2019 Cundill Panel
Feb 17 • 54 min
Deepfakes. Political bias. Contested facts. How can historians possibly nail the truth in our polarized times? A panel of top historians — all of them Cundill History Prize finalists and winners — explain why the challenge is formidable, yet nothing new.…
‘I love you’: the most treasured (and misunderstood) expression of all time
Feb 14 • 54 min
I love you: those three magic words are the most powerful and misunderstood words in the English language, according to writer and contributor Marianne Apostilides. She draws from Shakespeare, Freud, Aretha Franklin, Dolly Parton and other greats to parse…
Here Comes Trouble: How to worry sensibly in the 21st Century
Feb 13 • 54 min
Three expert analysts, each from a different discipline, reveal their greatest fears for the near-ish future and make the case for how we must now prepare for it. From the threat of conflict between great powers, to the “war” for net-zero carbon…
An Improbable Revolution: Hong Kong vs. China
Feb 12 • 54 min
The protest movement in Hong Kong has evolved into three distinct revolutionary moments, according to sociologist Ching Kwan Lee. It has led to the reimagining of community, the re-evaluation of violence, and Hong Kong’s emergence as a global city, able…
No mushy middle: Adam Gopnik defends liberalism in his LaFontaine-Baldwin lecture
Feb 11 • 54 min
In his LaFontaine-Baldwin lecture and conversation with Nahlah Ayed, author and essayist Adam Gopnik argues liberalism is not the mushy middle ground between right and left. It’s a vital set of egalitarian beliefs and institutions with deep, global roots…
Nostalgia for the Absolute: George Steiner’s 1974 CBC Massey Lectures
Feb 6 • 54 min
The internationally renowned thinker and scholar, George Steiner, died this week, at the age of 90. In 1974, he delivered the CBC Massey Lectures, entitled Nostalgia for the Absolute, in which examined the alternative “mythologies” of Marxism, Freudian…
A continent of stories: slaying the dragons of hate with words
Feb 5 • 54 min
Deborah Ahenkora has long believed there’s a ‘book famine’ throughout Africa. The most acute shortage is in books written by Africans for Africans — especially children’s books in which African children can see themselves reflected. So she decided to…
The Flapper and the Modern Girl
Feb 4 • 54 min
In the 1920s a new style icon arrived: flappers. They had bobbed hair and penchants for smoking, drinking, and dancing. In Matthew Lazin-Ryder’s documentary you’ll hear how the spectre of the flapper became a moral panic in Canadian society, and dredged…
The Enright Files: Conversations about Brexit and barriers
Feb 3 • 54 min
Brexit became a reality on January 31st, after three-and-a-half years of political chaos and gridlock following the 2016 referendum. This month on the Enright Files, conversations about the drama and reasons behind Brexit — and about what drives nations…
Inventing Ireland: Declan Kiberd
Jan 30 • 54 min
A people get a sense of who they are through their artists, primarily the writers and poets who, through words and stories, reflect images that are somehow familiar. Irish scholar Declan Kiberd has written about this making of identity for Ireland — with…
Da Vinci’s Celibacy
Jan 28 • 54 min
Leonardo da Vinci is celebrated for his astonishing genius and inventive mind. Historian Elizabeth Abbott argues that understanding da Vinci’s sex life, or lackthereof, provides a rare glimpse into how sexuality and male love was understood and practised…
PT 2: Why journalist Emily Bell is calling for a civic media manifesto
Jan 24 • 54 min
Emily Bell, director of the Tow Centre for Digital Journalism at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, continues her exploration of a civic media manifesto. In a world dominated by corporate media takeovers and fake news, the acclaimed…
Why journalist Emily Bell is calling for a civic media manifesto
Jan 23 • 54 min
With the free press under attack, a civic media manifesto is needed now more than ever, according to acclaimed scholar and journalist Emily Bell. She negotiates this critical crossroad for the media in her dynamic 2019 Dalton Camp Lecture —and in…
Myanmar, the Rohingya people & genocide: Inside the International Court of Justice
Jan 22 • 54 min
* WARNING: Content in this episode may be disturbing. Listener discretion is advised. * On Thursday, the International Court of Justice will announce whether it will proceed with allegations that Myanmar has committed genocide against the Rohingya people.…
The resistance of Black Canada: State surveillance and suppression
Jan 21 • 54 min
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…
Reconciliation can’t happen without reclamation of land, argues Max FineDay
Jan 20 • 54 min
What does reconciliation mean to Max FineDay, a young Indigenous leader? It means freedom, prosperity and giving back land to Indigenous people. It is the way forward for young people to have meaningful and prosperous lives, he says in his Vancouver…
Machines that can think: real benefits, the Apocalypse, or ‘dog-spaghetti’?
Jan 20 • 54 min
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.
Education without liberal arts is a threat to humanity, argues UBC President
Jan 14 • 54 min
UBC President Santa J Ono is a renowned biologist. But he says it was the liberal arts education that he had as an undergraduate gave him the wisdom he needed to flourish. Ono argues that the values imparted by a liberal arts education are crucial for…
A chair is never just a chair: A social history of a ubiquitous household item, Part 2
Jan 10 • 54 min
In part two of our series, Machines for Sitting, Witold Rybczynski focuses on the modern chair. The Canadian architect and Nahlah Ayed visit the Design Within Reach furniture store in New York, to look at some of the most important designer chairs of the…
A chair is never just a chair: A social history of a ubiquitous household item, Part 1
Jan 9 • 54 min
Architect Witold Rybczynski, author of Now I Sit Me Down, explores the social history of chairs, the stories chairs tell, and how they’ve changed through history in a two-part series. Part one focuses on ancient chairs with a tour through the historical…
We must recapture the lost ‘art’ of scripture: Karen Armstrong
Jan 6 • 54 min
Former Catholic sister Karen Armstrong describes herself as a freelance monotheist. She focuses on the sounds, rituals and power of scripture, all of which she fears is endangered in our secular, digital age. She joins Nahlah Ayed to talk about recovering…
Animals under the law: What options are there for animals to ‘lawyer up’?
Jan 3 • 54 min
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 ‘non-human persons’ status. Harvard Law School doctoral candidate Jessica…
Bright IDEAS for 2020: Our annual New Year’s levee
Jan 1 • 54 min
There’s a custom that started in New France where the colonial governor opened the doors of his mansion to people every New Year’s Day, to share holiday cheer and listen to concerns and hopes for the future. So IDEAS has thrown open the studio doors, to…
Writers on a mission — 3 high-stakes stories from award-winning authors
Dec 30, 2019 • 54 min
Three Canadian writers read and reflect on the theme of troubled missions: Joan Thomas on her childhood as an evangelical Christian, Erin Bow on the self-sacrificing dedication of scientists, and Don Gillmor on the whys of suicide. All are winners of 2019…
Human rights advocate Shirin Ebadi says the current protests hint at an eventual collapse of Iran’s regime
Dec 27, 2019 • 17 min
As protests erupted in some 100 cities across Iran last month, Nobel Peace Prize winner and human rights advocate Shirin Ebadi urged the international community to support the Iranian people. The former chief justice in Iran and longtime human rights…
Get thee behind me, tech: putting humans before social media
Dec 19, 2019 • 54 min
Douglas Rushkoff witnessed the initial promise of the internet ⁠— a ‘social medium’ for thoughtful encounters and the democratizing of knowledge. It’s since become ‘social media’; a system that colonizes our minds and enriches a handful of ethically…
If we abolish prisons, what’s next?
Dec 18, 2019 • 54 min
Prison abolitionists say prison is a failed social policy. Ultimately what it does is address the expected consequences of inequality and marginalization. So, maybe, the time has come to get rid of prisons altogether. If that’s the case, how do we move…
The Unconventional Diplomat: Standing Up For Principles
Dec 13, 2019 • 54 min
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…
The Unconventional Diplomat: Breaking The Rules
Dec 12, 2019 • 54 min
In a well-known speech in diplomatic circles, as 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…
Ought vs. Is: Reclaiming nature as a moral guide
Dec 5, 2019 • 54 min
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…
The Relativity Revolution: Albert Einstein and the making of the modern world
Dec 3, 2019 • 54 min
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…
How To Feed The World
Nov 29, 2019 • 54 min
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.
In the Sweet By and By: Atheist Edition
Nov 28, 2019 • 54 min
What happens when atheists engage sincerely with Christian apologists and evangelical creationists — and vice versa? A lot, in fact; and most of it is good.
Canada as a middle power in an upended world: Time for a foreign policy reset?
Nov 25, 2019 • 54 min
As chaotic and unpredictable as the world can be, there was — at least for a time — an international rules-based order, underpinned by US leadership that ensured at least a semblance of stability. That order is in decline. So what’s a middle power like…
Debate| Do baby boomers owe millennials an apology?
Nov 8, 2019 • 54 min
British sociologist Jennie Bristow debates U.S. author Bruce Cannon Gibney over the baby boom generation and its legacy for the world. Should boomers be held responsible for high house prices, the climate crisis, national debts, insolvent pension funds,…
‘We continue to be feared’: Kamal Al-Solayee on why being brown matters to everyone
Nov 6, 2019 • 54 min
In a compelling conversation, acclaimed journalist and author Kamal Al-Solayee discusses all things brown, from the psychology of the colour, to why he says, it’s always ‘a bridesmaid, never the bride,’ in the constructed hierarchy of human skin tone.
Wishful dreaming: Freud and the discovery of our inner life
Nov 5, 2019 • 54 min
Sigmund Freud had many radical ideas about our inner life and how mental illness or trauma might be treated. Perhaps his most radical idea was that the patient should be listened to. This episode features a panel discussion at the Stratford Festival about…
Introducing Hunting Warhead
Nov 5, 2019 • 4 min
A new investigative series from CBC Podcasts and the Norwegian newspaper VG. Hunting Warhead follows an international team of police officers as they attempt to track down the people behind a massive child-abuse site on the dark web. Listen at…
Monster buff Leonardo da Vinci would have loved Halloween
Oct 31, 2019 • 54 min
Leonardo da Vinci would have loved Halloween. The renaissance artist and engineer was also a monster buff. Writer and historian Ross King unveils da Vinci’s sketches and stories of monsters, beasts, giants and dragons, and explains how the artist’s views…
‘Shouldn’t there be a law against that?’: Facing our fear of genetic innovation
Oct 30, 2019 • 54 min
Professor Bartha Knoppers is the 2019 recipient of the Henry G. Friesen International Prize for excellence in health research. Once a scholar of surrealist poetry, she has now become a world-renowned voice and a prolific researcher in the field of medical…
What psychiatrists still don’t know about mental illness
Oct 28, 2019 • 54 min
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…
Why too much logic leads to irrationality: Justin E. H. Smith
Oct 22, 2019 • 54 min
The Parisian-American philosopher Justin E. H. Smith argues that attempts to impose the victory of reason always lead to explosions of irrationality, whether in our individual lives or at the level of society. His book is called Irrationality: a History…
‘Global Trumpism’: Bailouts, Brexit and battling climate change
Oct 15, 2019 • 54 min
**Warning: Explicit language in this episode ** With panache, humour, and a dash of outrage, political economist Mark Blyth explains how the 2008 bank bailouts led to Trump, Brexit, and a whole new era of populism. He also sheds light on how a tiny…
If you support human rights you’re obliged to be an anti-colonialist, argues scholar
Oct 10, 2019 • 54 min
Author of Insurgent Empire, Priyamvada Gopal on why everyone should be an ‘anti-colonialist’ — and what that means for Canadians.
‘In my great and unmatched wisdom’: Donald Trump’s new world order
Oct 8, 2019 • 54 min
As disruptors go, Donald Trump is the world’s most powerful one right now — disrupting everything from national politics, to social issues, to international relations. How far will his disruptions go, and what will remain once he’s gone? IDEAS convened a…
Lessons off Broadway: Princeton professor dissects zeitgeist in musicals
Oct 4, 2019 • 54 min
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…
Make debate great again: How bad political argument is undermining democracy
Sep 26, 2019 • 54 min
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 Aikin believe it is the simulated nature of…