Concrete Playground

Some of Sydney’s best bars will become classrooms for one night this October, as 20 academics from The University of Sydney take over 20 of the city’s best bars with free talks. Coming to Sydney for the first time, it’s called Raising the Bar, a bloody great idea and worldwide initiative that’s previously run in New York, Hong Kong and London.

Raising the Bar was dreamt up by, of course, a group of students from Columbia University and New York University, keen to get those new, thought-leading ideas they’d heard in class to the general public — for free. People are already ranting, debating and discussing in bars and pubs, why not take things back to the ’70s and drop a tweed jacketed academic in the mix to open minds?

Locked in for October 20, Raising the Bar will see 20 of Sydney Uni’s top academics speaking on a huge range of topics, from Western assumptions of veiling to what’s happening at the Paris climate summit, to medicinal cannabinoids. Want to get fired up about Taylor Swift with an academic backing you up? Dr Rebecca Sheehan (United States Studies Centre) is heading for The Record Crate in Glebe to unpack ‘Bad blood: Women, danger and popular music’. Professor Sahar Amer (School of Languages and Cultures) will head to Knox Street Bar for ‘To veil or not to veil?’, discussing the Islamic fashion industry and the many, many reasons why Muslim women choose to veil.

Probably the most ‘classic university’ of the talks, Dr David Allsop (Faculty of Science) will stay on campus at Manning Bar for ‘Weeding out the myths about cannabis’ to weigh up both sides of the legalised medical marijuana debate. If you’re keen for a pint and a climate change adventure, Professor Tim Stephens (Sydney Law School) will head for The Bristol Arms Hotel for ‘What’s hot at the Paris Climate Talks?’, delving into December’s summit and how global decisions are being made in the realm of global warming.

That’s just five of the talks happening across Sydney bars on the night, with fifteen more set to stir up debate — check out the whole program here.

Raising the Bar is happening Tuesday, October 20 from 6.30-7.30pm. All talks are free, and