Public Engagement

The Institute for Ethics & Society (IES) is committed to promoting a rigorous and open conversation about the variety of ethical issues facing today’s society. We do this by hosting major events and public engagement projects such as annual public lectures, podcast, QndA and Scholarship at the Cathedral, and through our researchers regularly contributing to national and international media outlets.

In our public engagement, we have a special interest in the questions at the intersection of faith, civic virtue and public life. We’re passionate about helping to cultivate the virtues needed to agree – and disagree – well in our increasingly pluralistic societies.

IES in the Media

Activism and Belief
IES Researcher Dr Rosemary Hancock was the guest on the New Humanist magazine’s podcast, With Reason, where she spoke about her research into the dynamic intersection of religion and grassroots politics, and reflected on the place of religion in public life and in contemporary cities.

Dread, Time and the Pandemic
IES Director Professor John Lippitt writes on Kierkegaard and COVID-19 for the UK’s Standpoint magazine.

Where There’s Smoke, There’s Conspiracy Theorists
IES Research Associate Tim Smartt has an opinion piece at ABC Religion & Ethics exploring the ethics and epistemology of conspiracy theories about the 2020 bushfires in California and Australia. Coauthored with Professor Mark Colyvan (University of Sydney) and Assistant Professor Hannah Tierney (University of California, Davis).

How Character Matters for Leadership
IES Assistant Director Dr Annette Pierdziwol appeared on ABC Radio National’s God Forbid to discuss the connections between good character and good leadership.

Catholic Press Association Award
Professor of Bioethics Margaret Somerville has won Best Essay (Scholarly Magazines) in the 2020 Catholic Press Association United States and Canada Awards for her article ‘Does It Matter How We Die? Ethical and Legal Issues Raised by Combining Euthanasia and Organ Transplantation’.

The Architecture of Peace
Dr Rosemary Hancock and Associate Professor John Rees contributed to a series of comments on ABC Religion and Ethics regarding Pope Francis’ encyclical letter Fratelli tutti.

Government Must Consider Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination
Tim Smartt wrote an opinion piece for the Sydney Morning Herald (August 10, 2020) considering the ethical case for a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, once a safe and effective vaccine is available. The article also appeared in The Age, Brisbane Times, and WA Today.

Georgetown University’s Berkeley Centre Forum: COVID-19 Response and Climate Change
In response to COVID-19, the Berkeley Centre for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs invited leading scholars on climate change and religion to reflect on the lessons for COVID-19 response from the study of religious responses to climate change. Dr Rosemary Hancock was among the 11 scholars invited to write a short reflection, and her post on the lessons from Islamic environmentalism.

Great Books of the Western Canon
Tim Smartt and IES founding Director Sandy Lynch recently sat down with The Ramsay Centre For Western Civilisation as part of their panel series introducing the Great Books of the Western Canon to discuss what Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas can teach us about the pursuit of happiness.

More IES in the media

IES Podcast

In response to COVID-19, the IES has produced the ‘Virtues for the Times’ series.


Since 2015, the IES has hosted the QndA panel series, which provides a platform for prominent scholars, public intellectuals and community leaders to debate pressing contemporary issues. Full videos of past panels are available.

Scholarship at the Cathedral

The IES is honoured to have partnered with the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney for Scholarship in the Cathedral – a series of public lectures delivered by eminent intellectuals (both Australian and international) and serving the purpose of furthering  the Archdiocese’s contribution in the forum of intellectual life and public discourse.  

Public Events

The IES also hosts a suite of public events each year, featuring internationally renowned thinkers. Details of events can be found under each of the IES’s three research focus areas.