What is it to be human?

Ask any human and get a different answer. Our culture tells us one thing, our history another, our religions tell one story, our biology another.

A human can be a hunter-gatherer, a data scientist, a pilot. We can live in desert tents, travelling wagons, city apartments.. We can live in tiny villages or enormous cities. And yet in every human society we see the same needs and desires: rites of passage, social hierarchy, religious experience – all with a myriad of forms but the essential humanity drives it all.

At the Festival of Big Ideas we will approach this question through the lens of various view points, inviting speakers with backgrounds in anthropology, psychology, biology to help expand our notions about who we are. And rather than sitting back to listen to talk after talk, most of which we would probably forget, the speakers will give brief summaries of their points of view and then get us involved in exploring the questions they raise.

We don’t expect to come up with any definitive answers at the festival, neither do we really believe there are any absolute answers to these kinds of questions, what matters to us is how we benefit from asking the questions. Understanding who we are as people, as a species, as a culture, is an ongoing act that enriches our lives and expands our minds. It’s something we can all do whether we’re a university professor or street cleaner. Thinking, learning, discussing are fundamental human capacities, things we can all enjoy and develop.

Come and ask the big questions with us and change your mind…