Where: Across York
What is it?
The York Festival of Ideas will take place from 7th to 19th June, with a programme of over 150 diverse and stimulating events delivered under the theme of ‘Tick Tock’.
There will be free events happening across the city, featuring world-class speakers, exhibitions, performances and interactive experiences. The annual festival aims to educate, entertain and inspire people of all ages and interests.
The festival’s opening night will be inspired by the publication of the US Board of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists’ Doomsday Clock report, Three Minutes to Midnight, measuring humanity’s close proximity to global catastrophe. Professor Sivan Kartha, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists Board Member, Nuclear Arms expert Dr Beyza Unal, from Chatham House, and Oliver Morton, author of Planet Remade and Briefings Editor of The Economist, will explore report’s assessment of the rising threat of climate change and nuclear arms proliferation.
A series of seven focus days will further delve into some of today’s most complex global challenges, including the forthcoming EU Referendum, the causes and consequences of the refugee crisis, living with floods, securing sustainable food sources, and health and wellbeing.
Headline speakers will include former Chancellor of the Exchequer Lord Lawson; former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Yvette Cooper MP; comedian Sara Pascoe; composer Sir Karl Jenkins; Justice Brenda Hale; Classic FM’s Tim Lihoreau; economist John Kay; journalists Owen Jones, Zoe Williams, David Aaronovitch, Stephanie Flanders and Rachel Sylvester; former Consul-General, Jerusalem, Sir Vincent Fean; Sicilian humanitarian, Princess Vittoria Alliata; and the Director General of Amnesty International Italy, Gianni Rufini.
Encompassing broader ideas around time – past, present and future – the festival programme will also explore themes such as York Pathways to the Past, Performance Through Time, Science: The Final Frontier, and The Future: What’s Next?
Festival highlights will include:
What if …? Worrying and the Modern World on Wednesday 8th June asks, ‘Why do we worry? Where did it come from? Why is the word itself only known to us in its current meaning from the middle of the 19th century?’ Francis O’Gorman, author of Worrying: A Literary and Cultural History, will examine the short history of worrying as a product of the busy, individual-centred world that modern capitalism has created.
Just before the year 800, Alcuin sent Charlemagne a collection of mathematical puzzles which he said were to be solved for fun. The puzzles included problems dating back to Greek and Roman times, which are still found in modern books of brain teasers. Join Rosalyn Leaman of the University of York for Puzzles in the Pub on Thursday 9th June, and sharpen your wits over a glass of specially-brewed Eoforwic Ale.
Find out how we can prevent and live with floods in the future with the Living with Floods Festival Focus Day on Saturday 11th June. Leading environmental scientists, insurance industry leaders, policy-makers, engineers, farmers and city planners will discuss recent floods in Yorkshire and the North West and the effects of climate change.
Attend interactive exhibitions, learn more about the history of the surgical revolution and explore the role of music therapy at the Mysterious Minds and Bothersome Bodies Focus Weekend on Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th June. This will include the Mental Health for All series of talks, which will explore the nature and scale of the public health challenges across the globe. There are a growing number of campaigns to improve the mental health of young people and a continuing concern that suicide remains the UK’s single biggest cause of death among men under the age of 45.
Motown: The Sound of Young America on Monday 13th June invites you to hear the Motown story within the social history of the USA at mid-century, from the boom and bust of the Motor City, to the harsh realities of segregation and the 1967 race riots, as well as the African-American civil rights movement.
Flash crashes. Speed dating. Instant messaging. It sometimes seems as if everything about our lives is getting faster. But where did this acceleration come from and where will it lead? Join Robert Colvile, former Comment Editor at The Telegraph and UK News Director at BuzzFeed on Monday 13th June for The Great Acceleration, as he reveals how technology is speeding up the pace of life – and, crucially, how to cope with the effects.
Watch University of York scientists dissect a captured zombie and study the infectious agent causing the outbreak as you examine the zombie’s blood, play with its brains and more. This is an interactive, hands-on workshop aimed at children aged eight to 12 years (but we think it’ll be fun for adults too), from Monday 13th to Tuesday 14th June.
English culture is confused, muddled and often borrowed. Join David Boyle, author of How to Be English, on Tuesday 14th June, for a complete grounding in the idiosyncrasies of the English. From The Beatles and Big Ben, to meat pies and allotments, Boyle pins down the absurdities and warmth of Englishness at this best. Come along and celebrate bell-ringers and Morris dancers, bowler hats and cardigans!
Learn about beer and brewing through history in Brewing: Anglo-Saxon Times to the Victorian Era on Tuesday 14th June. How is information gathered about fermented drinks from archaeological evidence? How do you make Victorian beers from original recipes and ingredients? What are the ingredients for Eoforwic Ale? (Ale made especially for the festival by Leeds Brewery to an Anglo-Saxon recipe.) Find out and sample some Eoforwic Ale and Victorian beer (yum).
Hear Hilary Roberts, from the Imperial War Museum, trace Lee Miller’s remarkable career as a photographer for Vogue Magazine during World War II. Recognised today as one of the most important female war photographers of the 20th century, find out how her work helps us understand the impact of modern conflict on women’s lives with Lee Miller: A Woman’s War on Wednesday 15th June.
Debate the EU Referendum with a dedicated Festival Focus Day on Thursday 16th June. Find out the arguments for and against ‘Brexit’, and the likely legal, social and economic consequences of remaining or leaving. Headline speakers include former Chancellor of the Exchequer Lord Lawson, Labour MP Yvette Cooper and Financial Times journalist Tony Barber.
Discover The Chemistry of Breaking Bad with the University of York’s Professor David Smith as he explores some of the fundamental chemistry underpinning the show on Thursday 16th June.
Cities after dark have a particular character often defined by specific places and a distinctive soundtrack. For After Dark: A History of Britain’s Music Venues, join writer and DJ Dave Haslam as he explores cities after dark on Thursday 16th June. The talk will be based on his recently published book, Life After Dark: A History of British Nightclubs and Music Venues.
Hear from humanitarian leaders, journalists, educators, security specialists and refugees at the Fragile States: The Causes and Consequences of the Refugee Crisis Festival Focus Day on Saturday 18th June. Speakers include Rear Admiral Chris Parry, Gianni Rufini, Director General of Amnesty International Italy, and Sicilian humanitarian, Princess Vittoria Alliata.
Explore the responses and reactions to the damage taking place in the Middle East with the Fragile Heritage Festival Focus Day on Sunday 19th June. With nine of ten World Heritage Sites in Syria and Iraq in danger or already damaged by the Islamic State group, listen to cultural heritage experts discuss the significance of this.
More info: yorkfestivalofideas.com/2016