Why "The Brisbane Dialogues"?

Brisbane largely lacks public intellectual discourse on the big issues facing the world today, let alone on those of enduring importance to humanity. This needs to be addressed if it is to close the gap with the larger southern capitals and compete on the international stage in the 21st century. 

Put positively, The Brisbane Dialogues will be personally worthwhile for many, helpful to particular organisations, good for Brisbane and Queensland generally and the world as a whole needs it too.


1.    It will be stimulating, informing, entertaining and enjoyable for a lot of people and rewarding for the small group of people and organisations who will make it happen. 

2.    Brisbane is developing rapidly in artistic cultural terms, competing with the larger capitals. A public intellectual dimension is as important as the arts and sciences in civic culture, arguably more important in the 21st century. However, Brisbane is not nearly as prominent when it comes to high profile, accessible discussions, debates and lectures on more philosophical and higher level policy subjects.

The universities play a limited role in high profile public discussions. Brisbane has only two small think tanks, in contrast to the substantial range and scale of those in Sydney and Melbourne. There are no events companies managing major speaker tours and the interstate ones cannot usually justify bringing international speakers to Brisbane. Read a brief survey of the Brisbane scene here.


3. In the Western world, society is polarising between the extremes of the two main political tribes and at the same time fragmenting inside personal echo chambers. Rational discussion in pursuit of bipartisan policies, or simply to advance knowledge and understanding, is becoming increasingly difficult or impossible. Even in laid back Brisbane, social cohesion and progress is weakened and even threatened by these trends.


In America, there are various worthy and substantial initiatives addressing polarisation/fragmentation, but no obvious new ones in Australia. The Brisbane Dialogues can be seen as one small but significant first step in this direction, leading the nation, and who knows, might seed much more. Read more about what might be called "constructive dialogue".

So the answer to "Why The Brisbane Dialogues?" is to:

  • have some serious, rewarding fun

  • help add a public intellectual dimension to Brisbane civic life to put it on the map of world cities, and

  • make a small contribution to improving public discourse generally.

For further reasons specific to particular people and organisations, see Why Help?.