This issue of the Brisbane Line explores ideas from the launch of The Brisbane Institute’s 2013 Brave Ideas for Brisbane lunchtime series, a series of forums that will provide an opportunity to share and shape ideas for this city.

A City of Friendship

Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk launched the series and provided both a brave idea and a challenge. Brisbane, the Lord Mayor said, could be the international city of friendship, building a lifelong relationship with each of the 55,000 international students who live in Brisbane at any given time, and ensuring they leave Brisbane with the city in their hearts, feeling that Brisbane is a part of their future. You can see his speech here.

The Brisbane Institute’s taking up the challenge and hosting a forum on Friday, 1 March, to examine ways to fulfil the Friendship City aspiration. You can see more details of that event here.

To help welcome international students to the city this year, Brisbane is hosting an International Student Festival in King George Square.

It’s  a smart move. International education is not just a large export industry for Brisbane, it also helps to establish important long-term business networks and cultural relationships. International students who enjoy their time in Brisbane are well placed to become enthusiastic international advocates for our city.

Around 52 per cent of international students worldwide are presently from Asia. However Asian education systems are changing. There are a growing number of world class universities in Asia, new higher education hubs are being established and inter-regional cooperation is growing. Australia, like the US will face significant challenges in its international education sector. How will our past relationships help us respond? Yenbo Wu looks at recent developments in Asian education that could impact on us.

A City of Sound

Jazz virtuoso and Queensland Music Festival Artistic Director James Morrison suggested Brisbane should become the city of music. To help put us on the map, he’s attempting to break the record for the world’s largest orchestra during the 2013 Queensland Music Festival. Hear his entertaining and compelling argument for the role of music performance in all our lives here.

Scheduled for Saturday 13 July, the world’s biggest orchestra is looking for lots of members, with community and professional orchestras, school bands as well as individuals willing to brush up on their musical skills. If you don’t have a trumpet or violin in the spare room, you can always buy a tambourine and join the percussion section! The current orchestral record holder is Vancouver with almost 6,500 performers. They took the record from Birmingham. Will Brisbane be next? If you’re inspired, you can register here.

A City of Happiness

Endeavour Learning Group Chief Executive Officer Carolyn Barker pitched Brisbane as the City of Happiness, suggesting we could take a leaf from the book of the Kingdom of Bhutan, which measures Gross National Happiness (GNH) alongside more traditional economic measures of prosperity.

With 9 domains and 33 indicators, Bhutan’s GNH includes indicators on income, pollution, crime, work and sleep hours, socio-cultural participation, literacy, health and life satisfaction. In the 2010 survey, 40.8 per cent of Bhutan’s population was officially happy, though men (49 per cent) were more likely to be happy than women (33 per cent). Just 10.4 per cent of Bhutanese were officially unhappy. The unhappy were more likely to be women, have no formal education and be living in rural areas. The GNH helps the government of Bhutan identify areas they should focus on to reduce unhappiness.

You can read the 2010 Bhutan GNH report here (large PDF file).

How would Brisbane rate if measured using Bhutan’s indicators? Should we select a different set of indicators for our GCH (Gross City Happiness)?

Economist Richard Easterlin believes we have a tendency to overestimate the contribution of increased income to happiness. Once basic needs are met Easterlin says, increased income is often accompanied by increased aspirations rather than increased happiness. He also believes we tend to underestimate the contribution of factors that have a greater impact on their well-being. He suggests that “a reallocation of time in favor of family life and health would, on average, increase individual happiness.” Are these the measures we should include in Brisbane’s GCH? You can read an article by Easterlin here.

A City of Foresight

CSIRO Futures Leader Dr Stefan Hajkowicz believes Brisbane should establish the Brisbane Foresight Institute, a global centre for high-level futures research and thinking that positions Brisbane as an international thought leadership city.

Dr Hajkowicz works with a team of CSIRO futures researchers that recently produced Our Future World: Global megatrends that will change the way we live. The megatrends it explores are:

- More from less –accommodating population growth with limited resources;

- Going, going … gone? – the decline in biodiversity and impact of climate change;

- The silk highway – the growth of China and India in the world economy and the accompanying shift from north to south and west to east;

- Forever young – the opportunities and challenges of aging populations;

- Virtually here- the continued growth of the digital world; and

- Great expectations – meeting rising consumer, cultural and social expectations .

Our Future World is a view 20 years and more into the future, a long way beyond the next election cycle. It’s the sort of thinking that can happen anywhere, though Brisbane is well placed for a Foresight Institute because of its excellent research and education infrastructure. You can read the CSIRO report here.

A City of Skills

Liz Crawford, KPMG’s Executive Search and Selection National Practice Leader, suggested Brisbane could develop an ISO for skills transferability, becoming an international hub for skills development, measurement and training.

It’s certainly an idea on the international agenda. At a time when we are only just aligning our State school education systems through a national curriculum, how do we cope with an increasingly globalised and mobile workforce? How much does training vary from country to country? How can workers gain globally recognised skills? It’s an idea that the ISO (International Standards Organisation) explored in its November 2009 issue of ISO Focus “Continual Competence”.

Already new platforms that deliver free on-line learning content are available through a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course). Have a look at Coursera, which offers 221 courses developed by some of the world’s best universities: everything from an organizational analysis at Stanford to irrational behavior at Duke. You can explore courses here.

Could Brisbane take the lead in the development and international recognition of skills and training, helping people use their skills no matter where their education was gained?

A City of Brave Ideas

The Brisbane Institute’s CEO, Karyn Brinkley is passionate about the need for need for brave ideas and The Brisbane Institute is filling the gap. If you want to participate in this year’s series, you can see the full program and sign-up here.

The Lord Mayor’s Challenge

As well as a Brave Idea, Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk, who launched the Brave Ideas for Brisbane series, provided us a challenge: What, he asked, does Brisbane want to be known for?

We don’t have a major sporting event like the Melbourne Cup and we’ve never hosted an Olympics. We don’t have an iconic building like the Sydney Opera House or a structure like San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. So how do we distinguish ourselves from Vancouver, Seattle, Auckland, or Guangzhou? What do we need to do to make Brisbane better known internationally, to continue to attract talented people and to maintain our economy?

What’s your brave idea for Brisbane? Let us know now, through the comments section below.