Press Office


Great minds don't think alike


BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking Festival returns to Sage Gateshead this month with several talks and discussions based around research being carried out at Newcastle University.

The free weekend of debate, new ideas and performance takes place from 25-27 October, with all the events being broadcast on BBC Radio 3 over the next few months.

How our countryside is controlled will be the subject of a panel discussion on the Sunday afternoon which will include Newcastle University’s Institute for Social Renewal Director Professor Mark Shucksmith OBE and Dame Fiona Reynolds, former Director General of the National Trust.

The way we educate children in a technological age is the focus of Professor Sugata Mitra’s talk on his plans for ‘schools in the cloud’ - learning labs which will help to bring education into remote areas. In these ‘schools’, children can come and learn what they want, when they want, and teachers are also available on Skype if they need help.

Professor Simin Davoudi will draw on research from the Newcastle Institute for Research on Sustainability in a discussion with Harvard Professor Sendhil Mullainaithan and Jeremy Till, the head of Central St Martins and Pro Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Arts London.  In the lecture ‘How on earth can we cope with less’, they will discuss the idea of scarcity and how it affects decision-making and planning.
Sean O’Brien, poet and Professor of Creative Writing in the School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics, will be discussing the 1919 novel ‘We’ written by Russian author Yevgeny Zamyatin.  Admirers of this dystopian vision of a glass city where citizens are spied upon have included George Orwell and Tom Wolfe and the book increasingly resonates with today’s concerns about surveillance techniques.  

Professor O’Brien will talk about his BBC Radio 4 adaptation of the book on Sunday morning with journalist David Aaronovitch and one of BBC Radio 3’s New Generation Thinkers, Sarah Dillon.

Also taking part is Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer for England, who was awarded an honorary degree by the University in the summer. She will be discussing how to control infection and combat disease.

For more details about the festival and a full list of those taking part, visit the Sage Gateshead website. Tickets are free but need to be booked through the website or via 0191 443 4661.

published on: 16 October 2013