The Best of Times, The Worst of Times – Navigating Life at the Crossroads

Conversation at the Crossroads presents an innovative series to stimulate, inform and upskill. It combines lectures, presentations by world experts in their respective fields, Q&A, debates, role play, small conversation groups, brainstorming sessions and skilling workshops.

The Best of Times, The Worst of Times – Navigating Life at the Crossroads

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of darkness.” – Charles Dickens, Tale of Two Cities 1859

Conversation at the Crossroads presents an innovative series to stimulate, inform and upskill. It combines lectures, presentations by world experts in their respective fields, Q&A, debates, role play, small conversation groups, brainstorming sessions and skilling workshops.

Hosted by Professor Joseph Camilleri, the series comprises seven 3-hour sessions run on consecutive Tuesdays from 26th April to June 7th 2022.

Participants are strongly encouraged to enrol in the series as a whole, and so fully benefit from the program, which is designed to:

  • Make sense of the national and international challenges we face and how they connect at a time of unprecedented change.
  • See how these challenges relate to everyday life, in personal relations, study, work, and community engagement.
  • Explore the practical steps we can take – personally and collectively – towards a more promising future.
  • Acquire the skills that facilitate respectful, informed and productive conversation with people of diverse backgrounds.

Program and key themes

APR 26

A warming planet in COVID times: Lessons not yet learned

MAY 03

Black Lives Matter: The time of reckoning

MAY 10

Education and media: Vested interests vs the common good

MAY 17

The Anglo world vs Russia and China: Is conflict inevitable?

MAY 24

Captalism under mounting stress: Can we – should we – revive it?

MAY 31

Seeing the world through new eyes: The power of conversation

JUN 07

Politics and culture after the plague: Has the postliberal moment arrived?

Access series recordings

To purchase access to series recordings, please click below. Registrants who attended a session in-person or online have complimentary access to the recording.

Featured speakers

Joseph Camilleri (Series Coordinator and Principal Lecturer)
Joseph Camilleri (Series Coordinator and Principal Lecturer)

Professor Emeritus, La Trobe University, Melbourne; Fellow of The Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia; President, Conversation at the Crossroads; author of some 30 books; most recently co-edited Towards a Just and Ecologically Sustainable Peace (Palgrave 2020); media commentator; serves on several advisory boards.

Helen Clark
Helen Clark

Helen Clark was Prime Minister of New Zealand for three successive terms from 1999–2008. In April 2009, Helen Clark became Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). She was the first woman to lead the organisation, and served two terms there. At the same time, she was also Chair of the United Nations Development Group. In July 2020, she was appointed by the Director-General of the World Health Organisation as Co-Chair of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, called for by the World Health Assembly, which issued a pioneering report in May 2021.

Dani Larkin
Dani Larkin

Deputy Director, Indigenous Law Centre (ILC) and Lecturer; a Bundjalung, Kungarykany woman from Grafton, NSW; a public lawyer; an advocate for constitutional reform and political empowerment of First Nations; researches Indigenous self-determination and cultural identity.

Shireen Morris
Shireen Morris

Senior Lecturer, Macquarie Law School; researches, teaches and publishes in constitutional law and constitutional reform, Indigenous rights, specialising in the concept of a First Nations constitutional voice in Australia; and is a regular media contributor.

Yanis Varoufakis
Yanis Varoufakis

Member of Greece’s Parliament and parliamentary leader of MeRA25; co-founder of DiEM25 (Democracy in Europe Movement); former finance minister of Greece, author of Talking to My Daughter: A Brief History of Capitalism.

Geoff Raby
Geoff Raby

Australian Ambassador to China (2007-11); named Friendship Ambassador to Shandong Province and an Honorary Citizen of Chengdu City; author of the widely acclaimed book China’s Grand Strategy and Australia’s Future in the New Global Order.

Alexey Gromyko
Alexey Gromyko

Director of the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences; lectures at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; co-founder of the Russian movement Support For a Democratic Global Order and for the United Nations; author of over 50 academic papers.

Chandran Nair
Chandran Nair

Founder and CEO of the Global Institute for Tomorrow (GIFT), an independent pan-Asian think tank based in Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur; previously Chairman of ERM (leading environmental consultancy) in Asia Pacificy; Executive Committee member of the Club of Rome: author of Dismantling Global White Privilege (2022).

Adrian Pabst
Adrian Pabst

Professor of Politics at the University of Kent; Deputy Director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research; one of Britain’s leading political thinkers; has just published a widely discussed book Postliberal Politics: The Coming Era of Renewal.

Registration information

Dates, Times and Venue

The series consists of seven consecutive Tuesday sessions, commencing 26th April and finishing 7th June 2022. Sessions begin at 6:00 pm sharp (AEDT) and conclude at 9:00pm (with a mid-session break).

Starting times for different time zones: London 7:00 am – Rome 8:00 am – Islamabad 12:00 noon – New Delhi 12:30 pm – Jakarta 2:00 pm – Kuala Lumpur 3:00 pm – Auckland 8:00 pm – Hawaii 9:00 pm – Los Angeles 11.00 pm.

Prior to the 6:00 pm start participants attending in person are encouraged to come early – from 5:40 pm onwards for beverages, finger food and conversation. This time can also be used for preparation of workshop discussions and assignments. Those attending online are asked to connect at least 10 minutes prior to the time of commencement. The series will be delivered in person at University College, University of Melbourne, 40 College Crescent, Parkville.

Expectations of Participants

Participants will be issued with discussion pointers, short reading materials, and links to thought-provoking podcasts, videos and other resources. Each session will have a varied program in both content, presenters and format. Participants should have a high degree of commitment to their participation in the series. The aim should be to:

  • Be present for the full duration of each session
  • Prepare for each session
  • Complete two short assignments


Conversation at the Crossroads is offering scholarships to young people under 30: five free tickets to attend the entire series in person and another five to attend the entire series online.

Applications must be submitted by Friday 15th April.

Registration Fees

In person attendance for the whole series (catered): Full fee $255 / Concession $145
Online attendance for the whole series: Full fee $135 / Concession $95
In-person attendance per single session only (catered): Full fee $35 / Concession $20
Online attendance per single session: Full fee $35 / Concession $20

Explanatory notes

The fees set are at only a fraction of what comparable programs would cost if offered by a university or commercial establishment. They have been kept low to make the series accessible to as many people as possible, even though the fees may not be sufficient to cover the costs of the program. ‡ The fees for attendance at one or two sessions are much higher because we are actively discouraging registrations for just the odd session. The series is an integrated whole, and participants will be able to take full advantage of it if they are able to attend all sessions.