Festival of Ideas

Edmonton’s inaugural Festival of Ideas, a 4-day smorgasbord of events for the mind, kicks off today with a conversation with Salman Rushdie. The Festival is a “signature event” for the University of Alberta’s 100th anniversary, and is book-ended by the Rushdie conversation tonight and a dialogue between E. O. Wilson and David Schindler on Sunday. In between there are talks on genocide, on child soldiers, and on biodiversity and climate change, as well as the world premier of the film Fear of Images. You can see the schedule of events, and get more information, right here.

One thing that you’ll notice, if you scoot over, is that most of the Festival is pretty pricy. ($30-50 to see Rushdie, $196 for the whole shebang, for example). But amongst the pickings are a few freebies, so that it’s not exclusively a Festival of Ideas for the Rich (even if not-so-famous). Two I’d recommend are the panel discussion on Friday night to accompany the launch of the exhibition Imagining Science, the result of the collaboration of my second-favourite pair of brothers (after the Coens), Tim and Sean Caulfield; and the Philosophers’ Cafe on Saturday afternoon with Thomas King on narrative, oral history, and aboriginal culture and politics, based on his Massey Lectures. The exhibition that the Brothers Caulfield have put together, in collaboration with the Art Gallery of Alberta (aka, in lesser times, as the Edmonton Art Gallery), “addresses the impact of the rapidly changing world of genetics, bio-technologies and human engineering, and the many significant breakthroughs, challenges and controversies that have arisen in the last decade with advancements made in new life science technologies: stem cell research, cloning, genetic testing.” The Philosopher (King) Cafe will be moderated by local-ish author Rudy Wiebe, and will continue the public dialogue that these public cafes have begun in the past on socially relevant topics. (Note that the location for this event is now the Rice Theatre at the Citadel, not City Hall, as previously advertised.)

So, if you’re in E-town, be there AND be square!

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