Be prepared to have your world turned upside down, your instincts challenged and your presumptions rebutted. Melbourne Knowledge Week, running from Monday 27 October to Sunday 2 November 2014, is designed to harness, showcase and share knowledge across many disciplines and platforms. This festival is designed to increase public debate, encourage a community of learners and spark your interest in education formal and non-formal.
I cannot help but feel this festival has come at the perfect time. More people than ever are jumping online to question what they are being told. Increasingly people are turning away from traditional media, wishing to educate themselves and form their own opinions. This should be applauded. The best way to form your own defendable opinions is with a base knowledge of the topic at hand. Cue Melbourne Knowledge Week. There are more than 90 events taking place across the 7-day festival, under categories such as Design and Urban Planning, Arts and Culture, Future of Business, Tech and Data and Learning and Knowledge Share. There is also a great section for Children and Families, so everyone can get involved.
The Children's and Families section of three events is just like your little ones, small but mighty. If your kids have not yet experienced the talented Polyglot Theatre, this is a great chance to get acquainted with the quirky and talented group. Polyglot are running a Sound of Drawing program, where the sound of the children drawing with crayons is amplified into a soundscape. The children listen to these soundscapes through headphones as they draw, so they can get as raucous as they like and it wont hurt your ears! For the older kids (8-12) The Philosophy Club are conducting age-specific workshops "for kids who always ask 'why?'." Sound familiar? Rounding out the children's program is Blocks for Little Architects, a building program where the children are directed how to create replicas of Victorian Architecture Awards entries. All these events are free to access and based in the CBD.
Some of the most inspiring events for me sit under the Learning and Knowledge section. Melbourne for Idealists is a self-guided tour of Melbourne, which means that you can really set your own pace as the big ideas wash over you. The tour follows the trail set by those who came to Melbourne seeking a better future. "Melbourne has always been a bit different from some of the other Australian cities because it wasn't for convicts. It was founded by rebels looking for a new place to have a great life," says project coordinator Roberta Styles-Wood. The tour takes you to 12 different places around Melbourne and explains why they are of importance, how they shaped the way Melbourne is today and the ideology of the city and it's citizens. Guidebooks for Melbourne for Idealists are only $12 must be pre-purchased. A great item to buy, experience, then share.
Men, look away. She Makes is a 3D modeling and printing workshop, just for women. These are no longer boys toys. This one off event on 2 November encourages women to bring along their laptop and learn how to use 3D modeling software and a 3D printer. Presented by Geek Girl Academy, this event is only $10 and includes materials. After the She Makes workshop, you can skip over to Donkey Wheel House for a lecture by Greenpeace Australia Pacific CEO, David Ritter; On Being Free. "David Ritter will draw on the wisdom of Lady Gaga and Soren Kierkegaard, Steve Jobs and Julia Gillard to explore the limits of freedom." This is a great opportunity to hear from Ritter, who has experienced life from different perspectives as both a lawyer and on the frontlines with Greenpeace in the UK. The lecture is $25 and sure to sell out.
Science and Medicine step up to the plate for Knowledge Week with Visualising Health. This digital media exhibition is being presented in a pop-up space at the University of Melbourne and designed to encourage public interaction with the seemingly intimidating faculties of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences as well as promoting general health and wellbeing. Do not take this to be science diluted for the masses. The exhibition features cutting-edge biomedical research in an innovative manner. Also at the University of Melbourne is Superscience in Supercomputers on Tuesday 28 October. Join leaders in their fields as they talk about the way supercomputers here in Melbourne are researching the outbreaks of infectious diseases, cancer, the impact of climate change on animals and much more. After you are wowed by these researches speeches, you are invited to join them for morning tea and a chat.
Sitting under the Future of Business section is the one-day Dare Festival. Possibly the boldest event of this festival, Dare Festival is a full-day series of speakers on the topics of workplace happiness, engagement and innovation. The list of speakers is highly impressive and features Helen Souness, Managing Director at Etsy; Nigel Dalton, CIO at REA Group; Angela Ferguson, Managing Director at Futurespace and entrepreneur Steve Sammartino. Dare Festival has taken place across London, Oslo, Antwerp and Toronto and is set to be an inspirational and educational day. If your business is not quite at the point of revamping workplace practices maybe the Startup Weekend Education Melbourne is for you. Lasting all weekend from 6pm Friday to 9pm on Sunday the event is designed to bring together educators, entrepreneurs, developers and designers with the view of creating ideas and prototypes to redesign education models. After participants pitch their ideas for education problems they wish to solve, teams will be formed and magic made. I'm really excited to see the results of this this 54-hour event, it's a great idea and with the talent in this city, the solutions are sure to be grand!
This is just a small selection of events that are part of the festival. The Knowledge Hub outside the Melbourne Town Hall is the best place to find out about the whole festival, so get out there, pick up a guide and make the most of this innovative festival.