The Big Q

Questions - Ideas - Scholarship - Debates

Project for Media in the Public Interest

Glimmers of Authenticity: What is the Role of Performance in Documentary?

Award-winning documentary maker, Annie Goldson, discusses how the subject of her latest film—the larger-than life tech entrepreneur Kim Dotcom—challenged her to consider the role of authenticity and performance in documentary.

What Is The Relationship Between Guns and the US Constitution? 🔊

How did the second amendment of the US constitution come to be interpreted as an individual’s right to bear arms? How does this change contrast with other changes in constitutional interpretation, such as the right to marriage equality and human rights protection?

What are the Social Implications of Storms and Disasters? 🔊

Unprecedented storms and fires are ravaging communities and destroying lives, all the while revealing power dynamics in society, politics and economics. What are these risks and revelations? What needs to be done?

Politics & Society

In Whose Interests? Global Patriarchy and the Re-Criminalisation of Abortion

The policing of women’s sexuality and, particularly, their reproductive capacity is arguably a centrepiece of patriarchy.  Feminist criminology provides a unique site from which to explore the increasing political pressure in the United States to police girls’ and women’s bodies through the restriction of contraceptive and abortion services. Meda Chesney-Lind discusses.

What’s really going on with North Korea?

Tensions have once again escalated between North Korea and the United States. What are the realities of the politics of North Korea and what is the proper response of the US and the international community? Maria Armoudian discusses these issues with Stephan Haggard,...

What Is the Dictators’ Handbook?

Is there a universal formula for getting and keeping power? Alastair Smith says there is and it often involves what he calls ‘bad behaviour’. Maria Armoudian talks to Smith about what dictators, CEOs, and political leaders have in common, and explores some of their strategies for getting and keeping power.

Why Do People Remain in Refugee Camps Indefinitely? 🔊

Why do people remain in refugee camps for decades? Refugees remain in camps for an average of seventeen years and often for much longer according to Elizabeth Dunn, who explored the phenomenon for her latest book No Path Home.

What Is The Relationship Between Guns and the US Constitution? 🔊

How did the second amendment of the US constitution come to be interpreted as an individual’s right to bear arms? How does this change contrast with other changes in constitutional interpretation, such as the right to marriage equality and human rights protection?

Science & Technology

Are Antibiotics to Blame for Some Modern Diseases?

Sanitation and antibiotics have saved the lives of many, but are they also the culprits behind some modern diseases? Martin Blaser argues we might have gone overboard in killing our microbes and that may be causing some of today’s epidemics. Blaser discusses the side-effects of microbes and antibiotics with Maria Armoudin. 

How Has Water Shaped our Past and How Will It Shape our Future? 🔊

Although it is the most important substance in our lives, many people hardly ever think about water, where it comes from, how it is used and its precarious future. Charles Fishman talks to Maria Armoudian about how water has shaped our past and how it will shape our future.

What Is the Future of Cities? 🔊

What will the cities of the future look like? Steve Matthewman and Stephen Knight-Lenihan discuss the urban future, covering topics such as ecological resilience, biodiversity, living buildings and floating suburbs.     Steve Matthewman is an associate...

What is Neuroscience and How Far Can it Take Us? 🔊

Neuroscience has uncovered so many clues about human attitudes and behaviours that have far reaching consequences. But scholars and doctors disagree about what it does and does not tell us about what it means to be human. Are we our brains? Do we have free will? How far can neuroscience take us? 

Can we learn to stop worrying and love the machine? 🔊

What do we have to fear from the rise of robots, automation and artificial intelligence? Darl Kolb, a pioneering theorist on social and technical connectivity, argues that we should rethink the relationship between humans and machines as one of co-evolution and...

Business & Economics

What is Greenwashing Culture?

What is Greenwashing Culture? In his new book, Toby Miller argues that culture has become an enabler of environmental criminals to win over local, national, and international communities. Miller examines the complicity of culture with our environmental crisis with Maria Armoudian. 

Is Big Money Influencing Science? 🔊

Raising big money is a relatively new phenomenon in academia. How did science, government, and industry become so entwined with one another and what has it meant for scholarly research? Big money has supported cross-institution collaborations researching both medicine and weaponry. Michael Hiltzik discusses big money and the birth of big science with Maria Armoudian.

What Effect is the Private Military Industry Having on War? 🔊

Over the past decades, privatised military contracts have grown to unprecedented levels, a change that has challenged the standing ethical doctrine known as ‘Just War’ theory. How is the privatisation of military activities compromising international conduct in conflict? What does it mean for international law and ethics in conflict?

Is Our Economy Undermining the Green Revolution? 🔊

Are some green solutions unhelpful for the environment or, worse, do they actually harm it? In her book Green Gone Wrong: How Our Economy Is Undermining the Environmental Revolution, journalist Heather Rogers explores whether ‘green’ products such as carbon offsets, organic food, biofuels, and eco-friendly cars work in offsetting the effects of climate change.

Is NZ at the Head of the EU and UK Queue Again?

Steve Hoadley presents material from his recent book, New Zealand Trade Negotiations, touching on past trade access breakthroughs, current geopolitical-economic uncertainties, and future hopes with regard to free trade agreements (FTAs) between the EU and the UK post-Brexit.

Arts & Culture

How is Art Used to Counter Oppression? 🔊

Throughout history, art has been used as an act of resistance and as a weapon to counter oppression and violence. Maria Armoudian talks to professor Mark LeVine about the role of art in resistance movements.

Is Graffiti Art?

Ron Kramer speaks to Julianne Evans. Splashing a dark alley with colour, turning a blank wall into a talking point; street art is everywhere when you start looking for it. And Ron Kramer does a lot of looking, and painting. A senior lecturer in criminology and...

I, Donald? A Classic View of Trump

How Suetonius would have loved Mr. Trump! As biographer of the Roman emperors, Suetonius had a sharp eye for the matching and mismatching of personal character with the exercise of supreme political power.

What is Greenwashing Culture?

What is Greenwashing Culture? In his new book, Toby Miller argues that culture has become an enabler of environmental criminals to win over local, national, and international communities. Miller examines the complicity of culture with our environmental crisis with Maria Armoudian. 

Abusing power? The Cartoonist in a Post-Truth World ▶

Does visually ripping the piss out of politicians actually help them, or is it one of the very few effective ways of getting to the truth of what they are really about? This is one cartoonist’s experience of a weird yet wonderful profession.