Thursday Soapbox: Getting on a Soapbox!

If you have ever been to London's Hyde Park and experienced Speaker's Corner, then you have witnessed a tradition of soapbox speakers that has included Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin and George Orwell. A healthy bastion of London culture, anyone could stroll through this part of the park for the purpose of seeking out new ideas or entertainment and encounter speakers from the Catholic Evidence Guild, the Socialist Party of Great Britain and the Hyde Park Tories, sometimes all in one go!

As someone who has born on a soapbox and has not succeeded in getting off yet, it is with great sadness I have noticed our culture's new hesitancy for sharing ideas, fearful of saying something unpopular or cancellable. Our Melbourne team asked the question, how can we reinvigorate campus life and encourage a space for our community to gather in, to hear some ideas they may or may not agree with? What better place than at a Catholic University to see the resurgence of speakers engaging the public sphere to share their ideas and passions? What better location than the ground floor public amphitheatre provided by our sparkling new St Teresa of Kolkata building, the perfect space for a healthy and robust dialogue to engage the mind and spirit?

Taking inspiration from the Catholic Intellectual Tradition and the belief that a Catholic University should not fear ideas, we wanted staff and students to be encouraged in the pursuit of truth, finding in our Catholic mission the ability to actively listen, the openness to being challenged and the freedom to share our beliefs. This gave birth to Melbourne Campus' Thursday Soapbox.

Launching in semester two last year, we invited a broad range of speakers from our staff community to engage the space for 30mins each week and speak about a topic they were passionate about. We aimed to keep talks on brand, for the pursuance of truth, beauty and goodness, while inviting a diversity of topics from a vast spectrum of our university community.

You can listen to last year's talks here:

Week 1 - Feelings Over Facts: The Death of Debate, with Fr Michael Buck

Week 2 - The Virtue of Baldness, with Jeremy Ambrose

Week 3 - All You Need Is Love: The Metaphysics of Marvel, with Dr Joel Hodge

Week 4 - No Ladder Required: Reimagining Success, with Dr Anna Popova

Week 5 - Art & The Mystery of Human Existence, with Professor John Haldane

This semester we continue the series, so those on Melbourne campus can enjoy gathering at the amphitheatre every Thursday at 1pm and those from other campuses can listen to each talk once uploaded.

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