Meridian 180 Explores Issues of 'trust and Distruct' at UNSW Launch


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Meridian 180 has been officially launched at UNSW Sydney - as a platform for people to connect across disciplines and languages.

Former foreign affairs minister The Hon. Julie Bishop delivered a keynote speech to an audience of nearly 200 at the inaugural event which focused on the theme of Trust and Distrust.

Meridian 180, founded in 2012 in the wake of the deadly earthquake and tsunami in Japan, is a multilingual forum made up of more than 800 scholars, business leaders, community organisers and policy makers from around the world to discuss critical issues of the day.

UNSW has become Meridian 180's first base in the southern hemisphere and will now play its role in developing new solutions to pressing global problems.

Professor Annelise Riles, the founder and director of Meridian 180 said at the launch event: “It is so exciting for us to be here at UNSW Sydney.

“After the terrible earthquake and tsunami in Japan a lot of people were asking: 'How can this have happened? How could we have stopped this disaster?'

“We then started to have a conversation about the doubts we had about what we thought we knew and what were the blind spots in our previous methods.

“The issues and problems were a result of silo thinking and there was a disconnect between disciplines that was costing lives. We knew another crisis would eventually come and we wanted to feel we'd done everything in our power to help us be prepared.

“The goal of Meridian 180 is for all sectors of society to come together and be open-minded to all points of view to help channel new ideas in a creative way.”












Professor of Law and Academic Director of the newly established Meridian 180 base at UNSW, Fleur Johns, said: “Curiosity is what drives Meridian 180.

“We want to enable people to work together on very important issues, even if they would never have crossed paths and even if they do not share a common language.”

Bishop, who was Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party from 2007 to 2018, spoke at length at the launch event about the importance of trust in diplomacy, highlighting numerous examples from her time as foreign affairs minister – including Australian relations with Indonesia, Fiji, and Russia that all came under strain in recent years.

“Enabling peace and security only comes about through relationships between nations. And relationships between nations must be built on trust and respect,” she explained.

“And individual governments can only deliver peace if the people trust their government to do the right thing. But trust between nations and governments and people is in short supply at the moment. There is a trust deficit around the world.

“For Australia to reach its potential, and for Australia to continue to be an influential voice in our region and globally, we need to build trust. We need to embrace trust in all our relationships. And that is a never ending task.”

Four insightful 'conversation' sessions followed the keynote talks which provided a taste of the Meridian 180 concept, exploring topics such as trust in technology platforms, trust in professional advisors and trust in science and finally trust and hope. The conversations featured the likes of Airtasker co-founder and CEO Tim Fung, Asialink CEO Penny Burt, NSW Government's chief data scientist Dr Ian Oppermann and former Chief Scientist of Australia Prof Ian Chubb AC.


Be involved


Meridian Members are drawn from across the globe, represent all disciplines and include academics, practitioners and policy makers. Members participate in creative, inclusive discussions around themes of profound impact on the world. 


Online multi-lingual forums

Meridian Forums are a unique and innovative venue for shared learning and experimentation. Thought leaders from partner universities or key experts initiate digital forums and invite member participation to explore critical risks and opportunities for crisis preparedness in key focus areas. Every contribution posted by members in the forum is translated into Chinese, English, Japanese, and Korean.

Participate in our active Forums (below) exploring the innovative responses of Frontline Workers and Global Cities to the current COVID-19 crisis. 

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Request membership or more information by emailing

View the summaries of past Forums here

Emergency online COVID-19 forums

Forum 1: Front line innovation

Medical professionals and public health workers are experimenting, learning, and innovating as they tackle COVID-19. A forum to enable colleagues who are on the front lines of the pandemic across the world to share knowledge and brainstorm solutions to the unprecedented challenges emerging from this global health crisis.


Forum 2: Global / local city innovations

Local cities have emerged as strong forces for effective and innovative response.  In this forum, we invite members to share key details on how their own city is coping with the pandemic – especially impactful activities which could be transferable to another global city for the benefit of its citizens. 

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Join the conversation

Meridian 180 members: go to 'Member Forums' and log in.

Not a member? Email for quick access. 

    Collaboration Masterclasses

    Collaboration, like any other skill, needs to be learned.  

    Meridian 180 ran a series of masterclasses in collaboration at UNSW Sydney featuring leading collaborators and researchers. Revisit the masterclasses at your leisure.


    WATCH Masterclass 1: The genius of our time is a collaborative genius

    Today’s complex global problems will not be solved by an individual, no matter how brilliant. 

    Featuring Dom Price, Atlassian; Penny Burtt, Asialink; Prof Fleur Johns UNSW Law

    WATCH Masterclass 2: Languages in and of collaboration

    Have you ever had a sense that you might not actually be speaking the same language as someone with whom you ostensibly share a common language?

    Featuring Prof Ros Dixon (UNSW Law); Prof Nick Enfield (Uni of Sydney) and A/Pro Amanda Third (Western Sydney University). 

    WATCH Masterclass 3: Temporality, time and rhythm in collaboration

    Collaboration is affected by the different ways people relate to time and time pressures whether for personal, cultural or organisational reasons. 

    Featuring Prof Ben Newell (UNSW Sydney), Prof Dorottya Fabian (UNSW Sydney) and Chloë Spackman (Australian Futures Project)


    WATCH Masterclass 4: How our brains affect collaboration

    Our mental models, beliefs and heuristics can impede open and generous collaboration, affect how we engage with 'experts' and feed interdisciplinary mistrust.

    Featuring Dr Micah Goldwater (Uni of Sydney).


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