TEDxFulbright in Australia

Fulbright alumni are the soul of TEDxFulbright in Australia, involved as speakers, organisers or volunteers. Through TEDxFulbright events Fulbrighters showcase the Fulbright Program’s thought leadership, by communicating their meaningful but often complex research and expertise in lay terms and using the engaging TEDx format.


In the words of Senator J William Fulbright, “[…] The [Fulbright] Program aims…to bring a little more knowledge, a little more reason, and a little more compassion into world affairs and thereby to increase the chance that nations will learn at last to live in peace and friendship.” TEDxFulbrightSydney will take place on Thursday 19 October at the Messel Lecture Theatre, Sydney Nanoscience Hub, University of Sydney.

Reflecting the Fulbright exchange program, TEDxFulbright seeks to facilitate an experience that embodies the continued power of progress through international, cross-cultural, and interdisciplinary connection and community action. TEDxFulbright events have been held since 2012 in several cities including Cambridge (MA), Frankfurt am Main, Dublin, Washington (DC), Santa Monica (CA), Melbourne, Canberra and Bogotá.


In the words of Senator J William Fulbright, “The essence of intercultural education is the acquisition of empathy–the ability to see the world as others see it, and to allow for the possibility that others may see something we have failed to see, or may see it more accurately. The simple purpose of the exchange program…is to erode the culturally rooted mistrust that sets nations against one another.”

Fulbright alumni often describe their scholarship period as a deeply transformative experience, during which they adopt a different frame of mind to empathise and interact with their hosts overseas. Our speakers, all Fulbright awardees from diverse fields, will address the theme “Empathy & Transformation”. TEDxFulbrightCanberra will thus showcase Fulbrighters as thought leaders.

Reflecting the Fulbright exchange program, TEDxFulbright seeks to facilitate an experience that embodies the continued power of progress through international, cross-cultural, and interdisciplinary connection and community action. TEDxFulbright events have been held since 2012 in several cities including Cambridge (MA), Frankfurt am Main, Dublin, Washington (DC), Santa Monica (CA) and Melbourne.

To access the photo gallery of this event click here.

Power of our Identities in leadership – Michelle Evans (2013 Fulbright Postdoctoral Scholar to the University of Hawaii – Manoa)

Conventional understandings of leadership limit how we both perceive leadership and enact it. These ideas get in the way and restrict the idea of leadership to organisational and hierarchical contexts. What if we thought about leadership as a moment that arises in situations and contexts? What if who we are and how we speak and act with others are the resources we have to draw upon for leadership? In this talk Michelle positions the experiences and voices of Indigenous Australians within a frame of leadership. She explores how having ‘outsider’ experiences and challenging ‘insider’ expectations can help uncover barriers to finding your authority to lead.

Dr Michelle Evans holds an Associate Professorship in Leadership at Charles Sturt University where she is project lead of the Indigenous entrepreneurship Pop Up innovation hub WALAN MAYINYGU. Michelle is also co-Founder/Program Director for Australia’s Indigenous Business Master Class program, MURRA, based at Melbourne Business School, through which she has personally taught and mentored one hundred and thirteen Australian Indigenous business people. Michelle has a unique combination of professional experience in management, community engagement and facilitation coupled with her excellent track record in research, having attracted three highly competitive Australian Research Council grants over the past four years.

“That’s just not feasible!” – Nicholas Southwood (2003 Fulbright Postgraduate Scholar to Princeton University)

We constantly reject ideas, no matter how desirable, for being “just not feasible. “A universal currency is just not feasible.” “Shark nets on all suburban beaches is just not feasible.” And so on. The “just not feasible” device is a powerful and valuable tool. But it is also a tool that is especially liable to being misused. There are serious and under-appreciated dangers associated with the way we form and deploy feasibility judgements. We often go wrong when we judge that certain ideas are not feasible. And even when we are right, we are often wrong to reject those ideas.

Nicholas Southwood is an Associate Professor and ARC Future Fellow in the School of Philosophy at the Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University. He is also Director of the Centre for Moral, Social and Political Theory and Co-Editor of The Journal of Political Philosophy. He is author of two monographs, Contractualism and the Foundations of Morality (OUP, 2010) and Explaining Norms (OUP, 2013) and many articles in journals including Ethics, Mind, Noûs, Philosophical Studies and Philosophy & Public Affairs. His current research investigates the nature and proper role of feasibility in politics.

The vulnerability of dual citizenship in Australia – Kim Rubenstein (1991 Fulbright Postgraduate Scholar to Harvard University; 2002 Fulbright Senior Scholar to Georgetown University)

One would think that holding more than one citizenship is a positive position to be in.  And for the most part it is! In this talk Kim examines citizenship in a globalized world and explains why she thinks Australia should be affirming the multiple connections individuals have both in Australia and beyond in order to enhance social cohesion.  She then discusses her concerns about the trends towards an inequality of citizenship that dual citizens in Australia now experience, through changes to the Australian Citizenship Act in 2015.

Kim Rubenstein is a Professor in the ANU College of Law at the Australian National University. She is Australia’s leading citizenship law expert, with the second edition of her book Australian Citizenship Law recently published.  She was appointed a consultant to the Commonwealth in its redrafting of Australian citizenship legislation, resulting in the 2007 Act and later was a member of the Independent Expert Committee set up to review the Australian Citizenship Test that reported in 2008. In 2012 she was named in the first batch of Westpac ‘100 Women of Influence’ Australian Financial Review awards for her work in public policy.

Celebrating progress in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing – Katherine Thurber (2011 Fulbright Anne Wexler Scholar to the Australian National University)

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are the world’s oldest living cultures. There is increasing evidence that connection to culture is associated with positive outcomes for families and communities. However, these strengths are not what we hear about in the media and other reporting on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander wellbeing — what we hear tends to be focused on gaps, deficits, and shortfalls relative to the non-Indigenous population. This presentation will highlight some issues with this deficit discourse, and suggest an alternative, strengths-based approach: measuring progress within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, and celebrating the success achieved.

Katherine (Katie) Thurber is a Postdoctoral Fellow with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Program at the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health (NCEPH), Australian National University. From 2011-2013, she undertook a Masters in Epidemiology at NCEPH on the Fulbright-Anne Wexler Scholarship in Public Policy, and she continued this research by undertaking a PhD in Epidemiology from 2013-2016. The aim of her research is to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing, through building on strengths of families and communities.

A fair go for self-determination – Vincent Redhouse (2015 Fulbright Anne Wexler Scholar to the Australian National University)

Using evidence from US Federal Indian Policy, specifically its self-determination policies, the case will be made that the most efficient strategy for Closing the Gap would be to grant Indigenous Australians a much more substantial role in determining, shaping, and implementing the policies that directly affect them. In the US, it took nearly twenty years for self-determination policies to start producing positive outcomes for Indigenous Americans. In Australia, those types of outcomes will likely take much longer. Australian citizens will need to remain patient and supportive of self-determination policies if they are to work.

Vince Redhouse is a Navajo man, and was the 2015 Fulbright U.S. Anne Wexler Scholar. He graduated Summa Cum Laude with Honors in Philosophy, Politics, Economics, & Law from the University of Arizona in 2015. While at the University of Arizona, Vince earned many distinguished awards, including Outstanding Native American Student of the Year. He was also named an Honors College Pillar of Excellence and was a university medalist.  For his Fulbright tenure, Vince is pursuing a Master of Philosophy degree at the Australian National University. His thesis is on political reconciliation between indigenous peoples and settler colonial states.

Academic freedom and its defenders – Diane Stone (1991 Fulbright Postgraduate Scholar to Georgetown University)

Science and scholarship thrives on free exchange among academics. The Fulbright program is predicated upon “learning and empathy between nations through educational exchange”. Yet international exchange can also have perverse consequences in an era of populism, resurgent nationalism and economic austerity. A battle is occurring between the European Union and Hungarian Government over the government’s back-sliding from the EU’s core values of democracy, rule of law and freedom of speech. This battle was triggered by the legislative attack on foreign universities. When academic freedom is undefended, no higher education institution can be fully protected from the wave of nationalist authoritarian politics that is sweeping the world.

Diane Stone is a Centenary Professor in the Institute of Governance and Policy Analysis at the University of Canberra. She is also a Professor at Warwick University and Vice President of the International Public Policy Association. From 2004 to 2008, she was a European Commission Marie Curie Chair and founding Professor of Public Policy at Central European University (CEU) in Budapest. She has been a Board member of the Think Tank Fund, Network of the Open Society Foundation and was on the Governing Body of an international organisation – the Global Development Network. She worked at the World Bank in 1999.   

Ten ways to become a better person – Manav Ratti (2009 Fulbright Scholar to New York University; 2016 Fulbright Canada-Royal Bank of Canada Awardee to Salisbury University)

Today’s world is increasingly interconnected and diverse. Navigating the challenges of daily life, both personal and professional, requires the right kind of mindset and actions so that we can create homes, workplaces, communities, and a world filled with peace, understanding, and opportunity for all. This talk will present ten insights by which we can increase our personal power and enhance our ability to understand and accept others, thus enabling the best in ourselves, in others, and in our communities.

Manav Ratti is Associate Professor of English at Salisbury University in the University of Maryland system, U.S.A. Educated at Oxford University (D.Phil., M.St.), Cambridge University (M.Phil.), and the University of Toronto (B.A. Hons), he has twice won awards from Fulbright Canada. He is the author of the critically acclaimed book The Postsecular Imagination: Postcolonialism, Religion, and Literature (Routledge, 2013; pbk. 2014), which he presented at the Ottawa International Writers Festival. He has held research fellowships at Queen’s University Belfast, the Institute of Advanced Study at Jawaharlal Nehru University in India, and the Humanities Research Centre at the Australian National University.

If you have any questions about, or wish to participate as a Partner or Volunteer at TEDxFulbrightCanberra or similar events in Australia contact us at alumni@fulbright.com.au.

Speakers, Partners & Volunteers: Thank You!

Sponsor: U.S. Embassy, Canberra

Adviser: Ingrid Tomanovits, Lead Organiser, TEDxCanberra

Sofia Majewski – Public Speaking Coach, Speak2us
Garry Mills – Public Speaking Coach, Peak Performance
James Fletcher – Public Speaking Coach, Alta Pete
Newcast Studios
University of Canberra
Brindabella Print

Mijica Rose Lus
Helia Homayouni
Kelly Tsang
Susanita Dudley
Karen Coleman
Jarrod Coleman
Alex Maclaurin
Tara Hawley


The theme “A Certain Optimism: Changing the Nature of the Game” draws directly from Senator Fulbright, a gifted statesman & the longest serving chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He had profound influence on America’s foreign policy, and his vision for mutual understanding shaped the extraordinary exchange program bearing his name. TEDxFulbrightMelbourne took place on 27 April 2017 at the Victoria Comprehensive Cancer Centre. Click here to learn more about this event…