The 11th Cambridge Festival of Ideas runs from 15th to 28th October with over 200 mainly free events, from debates, discussions and talks to exhibitions, theatre and world cinema.

The theme of this year's Festival is extremes. We’re living in an age where everything seems to be growing more extreme – whether politics, income inequality, the climate or technology – and we want to explore this in its broadest sense.

Ariel Retik

This year’s Cambridge Festival of Ideas will host over 200 events, exhibitions and performances as it explores the theme of extremes, from political and social radicalism to life at high altitudes and the extreme high street.

The Festival, now in its 11th year, runs from 15th to 28th October. Speakers include Baroness Valerie Amos, musician Evelyn Glennie, Rowan Williams, Professor David Runciman, best-selling author Tara Westover, film director Tim Slade, author James Bloodworth, psychologist Terri Apter, Professor David Reynolds, economist Victoria Bateman, postcolonial literature expert Priyamvada Gopal and international trade economist Meredith Crowley.

The programme launches online today and is packed with events ranging from debates, talks, exhibitions, films and performances held in lecture theatres, museums and galleries around Cambridge. There are events for all ages and most are free.

Debates include:

- Wars in the Middle East: living through extremes. What happens to those who choose not to flee during war situations in the Middle East? With BBC journalist Nawal El Maghafi, anthropologist Dr Lori Allen, Sophie Roborgh and Mona Jebril. [16th October]

- Europe in an age of extremes. With huge internal and external pressures facing the European Union, including the rise of nationalist and populist movements of all types across Europe - both inside the EU and outside, as well as the power struggle going on for control of Europe, can it survive? With Ian Kearns, Dr Julie Smith, Professor John Breuilly and Timothy Less. [18th October]

- The future of work. Will the future of work be one in which jobs become ever more precarious and robots take over or can we regulate to make the gig economy and artificial intelligence work in our favour? With author James Bloodworth, Dr Alex Wood, Dr Hatice Gunes and Ben Dellot from the Royal Society for the Arts. [20th October]

- What does a global Britain mean post-Brexit? Has Brexit highlighted a need for a broader discussion about immigration and Britain's place in the world today? With historian Shruti Kapila, Richard Johnson from Lancaster University, Sundeep Lidher and Professor Philip Murphy. [23rd October]

- Bridging the gender gap. What does gender equality mean in practice? Is feminism a threat to men or a collective liberation from social stereotypes? Can there be equality at work without equality at home? With Dr Victoria Bateman, Dr Manali Desai, film, tv and theatre director Topher Campbell and Duncan Fisher from the Family Initiative. [24th October]

- Trade wars: deal or no deal?: What is the likely impact of trade war and how has the tension between protectionism and free trade played out in history?  A panel discussion with Dr Marc-William Palen, Dr Meredith Crowley, Dr Lorand Bartels and economist Rebecca Harding. [20th October]

Other sessions include:

- Praise and blame. Psychologist Dr Terri Apter  on how being judgmental shapes our relationships and why it may not be such a bad thing. [22nd October]

- Educated: a journey towards independence. Author Tara Westover in conversation with Guardian columnist Hadley Freeman about her best-selling memoir, Educated. [20th October]

- Anticolonialism and the making of British dissent. Dr Priyamvada Gopal on the ways in which colonial subjects took up British ideas and turned them against empire when making claims to freedom and self-determination. [25th October]

There will also be a range of hands-on sessions for adults such as a range of events in the Law Faculty covering everything from ethical dilemmas in medical imaging and what we can do with plastic wastes as well as many events for children, including an interactive Arctic Day, Mini Movers in the Museum, a making giants workshop, a pre-history day and interactive languages events on everything from translation to dying languages.

The Festival is a multi-media cultural event. There will be cinema screenings of films such as Tim Slade’s The Destruction of Memory on cultural destruction over the past century; exhibitions on subjects ranging from the NHS, refugees on Europe’s borders, the extreme high street and the first women computer programmers; and a range of events and performances at the Cambridge Junction.

The Festival will also see the launch of Centre for the Study of Global Human Movement with events including a discussion on rethinking humanitarianism with Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury.

Ariel Retik, manager of the Cambridge Festival of Ideas, said: "The Festival of Ideas aims to challenge people’s received ideas and to question the status quo. The theme of this year's Festival is extremes. We’re living in an age where everything seems to be growing more extreme – whether politics, income inequality, the climate or technology – and we want to explore this in its broadest sense.

"A core aim of the Festival is to share with the public some of the incredible research and thinking that is happening in Cambridge and beyond across disciplines and institutions and to encourage an exchange of ideas between audience and researchers. Every year, we welcome thousands of people to hundreds of events, including talks, debates, performances, films and exhibitions. This year, we look forward to doing the same.”

The Festival sponsors and partners are St John’s College, Anglia Ruskin University, RAND Europe, University of Cambridge Museums and Botanic Garden, Cambridge Junction and Cambridge University Press. The Festival media partners are BBC Radio Cambridgeshire and Cambridge Independent.

*Bookings for the Festival of Ideas open in September.

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