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A Brave New World?

Date for Malvern Festival of Ideas 2021:

5-7 March 2021

This will be an online event with opening speaker Baroness Shami Chakrabarti. A new website will be launched in November 2020


Welcome to Malvern Festival of Ideas, a multidisciplinary festival of ideas taking place in Malvern, Worcestershire. It is a themed weekend of talks, discussion and activities.

In 2020, the title of the Festival is A Brave New World? In a rapidly changing world, can we look to the future positively and with hope? In what ways can emerging ideas in areas relating to social policy, economics, medicine, science, politics, psychology, arts and foreign policy lead to a better world?

Themed sessions explore this topic from different perspectives. 



The Festival of Ideas at Malvern is one of the most thought provoking and considered of its kind in the UK. There is plenty time to think, debate and question with no rushing between sessions and complicated ticketing. Set between the hills, in a beautiful town, this is a highlight in the year.

Professor Danny Dorling, University of Oxford

Various venues in Malvern, Worcestershire



Colin Blakemore / Irene Guijt / Ruth Lister / Anthony Painter / Grace Blakeley / Heather Widdows / Subramanian Ramamoorthy / Ivana Bartoletti / Peter Tatchell / Bernadette Russell / Tom Crawford / Chris Budd.



Friday Evening

The Past, Present and Future of the Human Brain

Professor Sir Colin Blakemore


19-06 Colin Blakemore_DCS6934 (head & sh

Saturday Morning

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Inspiring Futures

Dr Irene Guijt


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Towards a Good Society

Professor Baroness Ruth Lister


Saturday Afternoon

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The Systems That Make and Break Us

Mr Anthony Painter


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Stolen: How to Save the World from Financialisation

Ms Grace Blakeley


Saturday Evening

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How Being Good Became Looking Good: The Changing Value of Beauty

Professor Heather Widdows


Sunday Morning

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How Can Intelligent Robots Help in the Operating Theatre?

Dr Subramanian Ramamoorthy


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Artificial Intelligence: Utopia or Dystopia, or Both?

Ms Ivana Bartoletti


Sunday Afternoon

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What next for LGBT+ rights?

Mr Peter Tatchell



Saturday at Malvern Cube

The Wishing Tree

Bernadette Russell is an award-winning storyteller and author of short stories and creative non-fiction for adults and children, including "The Little Book of Kindness" and "Be the Change, Make it Happen."  She is also a playwright and poet. She has been a monthly columnist for Balance magazine since 2016, and has created work for National Theatre, Southbank Centre, National Trust and English Heritage amongst many others.

Bernadette will lead three interactive story-telling and activity sessions based on her book, The Wishing Tree, at 10am, 11.45am and 1.45pm


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Two family presentations on how mathematics can help address important environmental issues

How Mathematics Can Save the Whale

Professor Chris Budd, 2pm Cube Theatre

Saving the whales and curing cancer are two of the great challenges of the present day, and mathematics has a part to play in addressing them. This talk will use these two examples to illustrate the process of mathematical modelling to gain insights into how the world works and how we can change it.


How Mathematics Can Clean up Ocean Pollution

Tom Crawford, 3pm Cube Theatre

Tom describes his research looking at where river water goes when it enters the ocean and why it is important for controlling pollution.



Saturday at Malvern Cube

Physics for a Better World

A physics presentation and drop-in session explaining some of the physics behind climate change with the Institute of Physics

Eights Ways Physics Can Save Our Skins

David Cross, 12noon Cube Theatre

Dave will present 8 ways in which current research offers hope of a brighter future!



Hands on with Physics 

A drop-in session running throughout the day (10am to 4pm) explaining some of the physics behind climate change

We have all heard about climate change and global warming. Scientists are working hard to find cleaner energy and to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Find out how the ‘greenhouse gases’ are causing the Earth to heat up and see how physics is helping us to use less energy in our daily lives.

Saturday at Malvern Cube - Additional Session

Laughter Yoga with Merrie Maggie

A laughter yoga session with Maggie Thompson, a qualified Laughter Yoga Teacher with several years experience

11am to 12noon, Cube Green Room

Laughing makes you FEEL good

- Exercise your internal body as well as your external body through laughter exercises and deep breathing
- Improve communication through laughter
- Energise and revitalise through deep (Yogic) breathing
- Laughter helps your body create Endorphins that enhance your immune system
- Relieve stress by allowing laughter to embrace you every day.
- Bring out the child in you through playfulness.

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For more information, contact Maggie on
07565 218567

Book places throught the Festival Eventbrite page or contact Maggie

Malvern Festival of Ideas 2020

On line: Visit the Eventbrite page

By telephone: Call 01684 565708

By email: state the event and number of tickets required.





Support the Festival 

Support the Festival and our parent charity EngageMalvern. 

A key feature of the event is that most sessions are available free of charge to the public, so that no-one is prevented from coming by the cost of a session.

In order to achieve this, we rely on the generosity of many people and organisations. If you would like to help and make a donation, there are a number of ways you can do this. Donations go to our parent charity (EngageMalvern). The main costs are venue and equipment hire, speakers travel and accommodation and publicity. 

  1. Make a donation via PayPal (click the Donate button below)

  2. Purchase a Donation ticket when you book tickets on Eventbrite

  3. Transfer to EngageMalvern a/c: 65863800 sort code: 089299 Ref: MFI2020

  4. Make a donation in cash or by card at an event 



The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed by Festival speakers are solely those of the speakers, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Festival organisers. All speakers are invited in good faith as appropriate contributers to chosen topics for lawful free speech and for questioning by the public.