The RSA’s former Chief executive (2006 to 2021), Matthew Taylor, puts a range of experts and thinkers on the spot by asking for one big idea to help build effective bridges to our new future.
Dissecting the modern 'strongman'
Have the last 15 years seen the most sustained decline in political freedom around the world since the 1930s? Chief Foreign Affairs columnist for the Financial Times, Gideon Rachman, believes so. And he points the finger of blame squarely at the rise of the modern 'strongman'. From Putin to Erdogan, Orban to Bolsonaro, liberal democracy, Rachman argues, is at risk of being eroded by the ego-driven antics of this new crop of global leaders. But could Putin's war in Ukraine bring about the end of the era of the strongman? Can liberal democracy survive the 21st century?
Is another nuclear disaster inevitable?
Ukrainian national and Harvard historian, Serhii Plokhy, believes we are sleepwalking into another nuclear catastrophe. Drawing on past accidents, including Chernobyl in 1986, Three Mile Island in 1979 and Fukushima in 2011, he makes the case to Matthew that nuclear can never be the solution to global energy demand.
Is it time to rethink sex?
Has the sexual revolution, which promised lots of fun, no-strings sex, actually made us unfulfilled, miserable even? And all that swiping left or right on our phones, has it left us detached, disillusioned, dissatisfied? Writer Christine Emba believes so. She joins Matthew to make a case for rethinking our attitudes towards sex and sexual ethics.
Is Britain one of the most corrupt countries in the world?
Is Britain really the butler to the world's kleptocrats, criminals and tax dodgers? Is this country, famed for its supposed sense of fair play, really one of the few to do more to frustrate global anti-corruption efforts? Journalist Oliver Bullough believes so. He joins Matthew to discuss the UK's addiction to dirty money, and what should be done about it.
The importance of rigorous science reporting
In the age of the internet and social media, the pandemic has revealed the importance of accurate science reporting. Fiona Fox, chief executive of the Science Media Centre, is an expert in science communication. She takes Matthew behind the scenes of some of the most contentious stories over the past two decades to chart the complex interplay between scientists and journalists - and warns of the damage to public understanding when scientists are silenced.
Mental Illness and Identity
Noga Arikha has long been fascinated with mental illness and the way we understand identity. Researching her new book, the philosopher and historian spent 18 months at the Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital in Paris studying what happens when the mind goes wrong – and how our physical experiences inform our identities.
I have learnt so much listening to these podcasts. Each delves deeply into highly relevant areas of learning. Particularly enjoyed the interview with Kate Raworth.
On Hong Kong
I have enjoyed this podcast until the episode on Hong Kong, has RSA joined the propaganda wars against China? I am sure Mike Pompeo is delighted… perhaps MT should interview him too?
Concise and intelligent discussions
Really enjoyable podcast. Always interesting topics/guests and the discussion is well-judged and exactly the right length. It often leaves me wanting to find out more, which is a good thing.