A World of Wonder: York Festival of Ideas 2019 launches biggest programme yet

The double award-winning York Festival of Ideas returns from 4 to 16 June with a programme of over 200 mostly-free events on the theme of “A World of Wonder”.

Now in its ninth year, the Festival’s programme of talks, exhibitions, theatre, music, film, guided walks and children’s activities features a plethora of renowned speakers including: humanitarian and author Terry Waite; filmmaker Mike Leigh; Debbie Horsfield – BAFTA award winning writer of the BBC’s hit drama, Poldark; historian Tracy Borman and broadcaster Gavin Esler.

BBC Radio 3 will record an evening of talks from dynamic speakers as part of their New Generation Thinkers scheme, and BBC Radio 4’s Today programme will broadcast live from the University of York.

Other highlights include events with V&A ‘Dior’ curator Oriole Cullen; economist David Blanchflower; chef Frances Atkins; social geographer Danny Dorling and poet Paul Muldoon.

Focus days with experts will explore complex issues including toleration, poverty and how to deliver a fair economy for all. Audiences will have the chance to engage with in-depth discussions on the value of higher education to society, the relationship between creativity and science, and the ability of artificial intelligence to improve lives.  How cultural identity in France and Britain is expressed by food, fashion and feminism will also be explored.

Highlights include:

A Fair Economy. A Better World Friday 7 June

In this age of globalisation, who is the economy for and who really benefits? How do we make sure economic theory translates into the desired outcomes? Crucially, how do we ensure the economy benefits everyone, not just the few? In partnership with the Friends Provident Foundation, a Festival Focus Day investigates the future of Economics and asks how we can create a fair and resilient economic system that benefits all. Speakers include David Blanchflower of Dartmouth College, USA, author of Not Working: Where Have All the Good Jobs GoneLinda Yueh, author of The Great Economists; Heather Melville OBE, Director and Head of Client Experience at PwC; and Martin Sandbu, Economics Commentator at The Financial Times.

What Have Universities Ever Done For Us? Saturday 8 June

World-renowned experts including the co-author of a Nobel Peace Prize winning report on climate change will discuss the vital role universities play in tackling global challenges. The Festival Focus Day will seek to define what universities have done to contribute to society from the perspective of science, technology and economic development; social justice, social mobility and lifelong learning; and the arts and humanities. Speakers include Professor Anil Markandya, one of the core team that drafted the Nobel Peace Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 4th Assessment;  Lord Kerslake, Chair of the UPP Foundation Civic University Commission; Professor Alain Beretz, a Special Envoy of the French Prime Minister with a mission on European universities; University Challenge star Bobby Seagull; Philip LongDirector of V&A Dundee; Dr Faye Taylor, Head of Strategic Partnerships at the Association of Commonwealth Universities; Professor Sue Hartley, Director of the York Environmental Sustainability Institute,  University of York; Tim LeighDirector of Stage One; and Kate Sandars, Senior Partnership Manager at FutureLearn.

Artificial Intelligence: Looking to the future Sunday 9 June

Discover what the future may hold at an Artificial Intelligence (AI) Focus Day, presented in collaboration with the Assuring Autonomy International Programme. From driverless cars to robotic health carers, where is AI taking us? What benefits will AI bring to our lives and what concerns should we have? The day features informative discussions, hands-on activities and an opportunity to see driverless cars in action. Expert speakers include Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Wooldridge of the University of Oxford; Praminda Caleb-Solly of the University of the West of England; Claire Jepson of Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust; Helen Weatherly of the University of York; Kirsty Lloyd-Jukes of Latent Logic; and Dave Baldwin of Thatcham Research.

Poverty: How can we tell a new story to inspire change?  Friday 14 June

Discover why poverty can only be addressed when those who experience it first-hand are at the heart of the process. Join us for inspirational talks, music and films as we introduce the award-winning Beats Bus, the writers and performers who empower people to tell their own stories, and those at the sharp end with lived experience of poverty. Speakers include journalist and documentary filmmaker Billie JD PorterSteve Arnott of the Beats Bus project; filmmakers Sean McAllister and Sally Ogden; authors Mahsuda Snaith and Kerry Hudson; and Kev Curran of Inspired Youth.  The Festival Focus Day is presented in partnership with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

BBC Radio Four Today Programme: News and current affairs live Tuesday 4 June

The Today programme is coming to York as part of their University series. Justin Webb will broadcast from the University of York in front of a live audience. The programme will explore issues affecting both students and academics, with a variety of guests. For your chance to be part of the audience please apply to bbc.co.uk/showsandtours/shows/today_4jun19

The Joy of Work Wednesday 5 June

What are the lessons that psychology can teach us about fixing work? Elon Musk says we can’t achieve anything on less than 80 hours work a week, but what does the evidence suggest? Bruce Daisley, European Vice-President for Twitter – who’s spent a career at the helm of companies including Google, YouTube and Twitter – takes a closer look. Afterwards, help us decide the winner of the University of York’s Business Challenge. Inaugural Innovation Lecture. 

Showcasing Innovation Wednesday 5 June

Come along to a business showcase and meet staff, students and graduates of the University of York who have started their own business or social enterprise. Hear success stories and find out more about the exciting and varied ideas the University has helped support. Talk to the business founders, see an exhibition of their products and services, and give feedback on their ideas.

Retail Therapy Thursday 6 June

From House of Fraser and BHS to Toys’R’Us and Sears, recognised names are vanishing from our high streets and shopping centres. Why is the retail industry broken – and what can be done to fix it? While many blame the ‘Amazon effect’, find out why this is an oversimplification. Retailer and author Mark Pilkington explores the forces at work on the world of retailing and provides a road map for sustainable success in the future.

The Creativity of Sustainability Monday 10 June

One Planet York invites you to join an inspiring group of educators, business people, health professionals and activists to share ideas and stories, making connections and developing conversations that concentrate on the concept of York as a cultural capital. The focus will be on how urban communities can become more sustainable by engaging with new ideas, initiatives and activity.

Clean Air Day: Air pollution and York Thursday 13 June

Air pollution – it’s all over the news and all over our cities, but what do YOU really want to know about it? Find out about air quality research at the University of York, how it relates to our beautiful city and where it impacts on our everyday lives. Quiz experts from the University and City of York Council and consider the simple things that can be done to help improve the air we breathe ahead of Clean Air Day on 20 June 2019.

Not Working: Why we have to stop Sunday 16 June

‘To do nothing at all is the most difficult thing in the world’ – Oscar Wilde. Is the art of doing nothing disappearing in a culture which disapproves of inactivity and demonises idleness? While inactivity can cause lethargy and indifference, it is also a condition of imaginative freedom and creativity. Psychoanalyst Josh Cohen explores idleness and asks how we might live a different and more fulfilled existence.

Joan Concannon, Director of York Festival of Ideas, said: “In just nine years York Festival of Ideas, led by the University of York, in partnership with more than 100 partners, has become one of the largest free festivals of its kind in the UK.

“We are all driven by a passionate belief that education and ideas transforms lives. The Festival celebrates the incredible power of the imagination, showcases the ability of humans to tackle seemingly impossible questions through research, collaboration and creativity, and pays tribute to those people who have achieved the unimaginable.”

After winning the award for Best Cultural Event or Festival at the York Culture awards in 2017, the Festival scooped the award for Outstanding Cultural Festival (Large) in 2018.

View the full 2019 programme at yorkfestivalofideas.com.

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