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Huh? Meaning, language and fake news

In this conversation Professor Nick Enfield, Chair of Linguistics at the University of Sydney joins host Dr Chris Neff to discuss striving for understanding in language and its relation to the age of fake news. Professor Enfield contributed to research showing that, worldwide, on average we seek clarification in our conversations every 90 seconds and heads the University’s Post Truth Initiative. It looks at a range of ways to understand and confront the problem of alternative facts, fake...


Why food isn’t free from politics - Dr Alana Mann

From supermarkets, to farms, to our own home gardens and kitchens, we all participate in the mega industry that is food, every day. But what do we know about this global network and how can we sustain it long into the future? Dr Alana Mann from the Department of Media and Communications and the Sydney Environment Institute joins Open for Discussion to discuss why the food industry is tricky business.


How millennials do politics differently - Professor Ariadne Vromen

There’s a growing appreciation of the unique challenges many millennials face, and not just when it comes to the price of a smashed avocado. What impact does this have on young people’s politics? How do they use social media to engage? And are politicians paying attention? Listen as Ariadne Vromen, Professor of Political Sociology, joins Dr Chris Neff on Open for Discussion to discuss.


How we adapt to disruptive technology

Netflix, WhatsApp, Uber and AirBnB are all examples of digital disruption. Digital disruption changes and challenges established ways of doing business, social interacting and, even more fundamentally, how we think. Kai Reimer, Professor of Information Technology and Organisation in the University of Sydney's Business School joins Chris Neff to explore digital disruption's impact on all our lives.


Medical marijuana as the next wonder drug? - Professor Iain McGregor

People involved in medical cannabis can find themselves in a twilight zone where the law may prevent uses of cannabinoids claimed to have life-saving effects. Professor Iain McGregor explains the vision, stories and studies behind the University of Sydney’s Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics. Soundbite and transcript at


How to care for your cats and dogs (ethically) - Dr Anne Fawcett

Australia has one of the highest household rates of pet ownership in the world. What is our obsession with our pets, and what does it mean for the animals we claim to love? The University’s resident Dr Doolittle, Dr Anne Fawcett, has a background in philosophy and is also a practicing vet. In this episode, she and host Dr Chris Neff discuss the ethics around our interactions with our pets.


How to prevent crime before it happens - Dr Garner Clancey

Most times we think of crime, it’s after the fact. But what if through certain measures we could stop a crime before it happens? No this isn’t a Tom Cruise movie, it’s a chat with Dr Garner Clancey, senior lecturer in criminology at the University of Sydney Law School. He joins Open for Discussion to discuss crime statistics (which for most categories aren’t on the rise) and the strategies used today to prevent crimes.


How insects are solving our problems in the city - Dr Tanya Latty

How can insects, slime mould and other brainless organisms – which comprise the majority of life on Earth - inform next-generation engineering, optimal transport systems and help us build the smart cities of the future? Dr Tanya Latty’s team at the Insect Behaviour and Ecology Lab is studying insects to see how humans can learn the lessons road-tested in Nature and then apply them to the human condition. Image by Vinayaraj CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons


Big Sugar

Mary Poppins said “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down” but adding too much of the sweet stuff is contributing to obesity, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and poor dental health. Dr Becky Freeman speaks to Chris about how ‘Big Sugar’ is using the ‘Big Tobacco’ industry playbook to saturate us with sugar.


Confronting radical extremism

How does radicalisation happen? Why would a young person adopt an extremist ideology and even pursue their beliefs through violence? Hussain Nadim, a doctoral candidate in The University of Sydney's Department of Government and International Relations joins Open for Discussion to demystify this topic. Last year Nadim was named by Forbes as a global leader in law and policy. He's advised the military and security agencies of Pakistan on deradicalisation and counterterrorism and been a...


Public space: a contested and changing area

What is public space in modern society and why is it important? Associate Professor of Urban Geography, Kurt Iveson, explains how he has had to re-invent his role, touches on IT-enabled experiences in city environments and shows how conversations about contested spaces can have unexpected, and welcome, results. Cronulla riots photo courtesy of Flickr/Wormer, used under the Creative Commons licence.


Food for thought: the science of eating a healthy diet - Associate Professor Amanda Salis

Almost every week it seems there’s a story in the news telling us about food and nutrition, and what we should eat to say healthy and avoid being overweight. But very often this week’s message contradicts what we heard only last week. In this podcast, weight loss scientist Associate Professor Amanda Salis speaks to our host Dr Chris Neff about the challenge of eating well in a world of confusing advice. Amanda is a senior research leader at the University of Sydney’s Boden Institute of...


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