Screen Shot 2018-01-06 at 4.58.37 PM.png

Once upon a time, a night out on the town meant drinking and dancing.

But knock-off drinks had a different feel when Raising the Bar took over 10 venues in Melbourne city, hosting 20 talks from academics and experts.

The event was conceived in New York, but spread to Melbourne last year, where a booked-out program ensured a repeat appearance.

The topics range from arts and culture, to science and technology, sociology and philosophy.

And while the subjects may seem dry, another sell-out night suggests there is a strong thirst for learning.

Screen Shot 2018-01-06 at 5.00.58 PM.png

Jacinta Young and Steve Taitoko were ready to settle in for a long evening of discussion about topics from legal storytelling to cryptocurrency.

Mr Taitoko is clear on the appeal.

"I mean it's like TED talks in bars, I think that's becoming more of a way that people can engage and again it's about telling stories so you want something that's quite informal," he said.

Ms Young agreed.

"It's a relaxed atmosphere, it's different to a seminar where you might go and sit in an auditorium," she said.

Lucy Plisko and Tassie Williams also aimed for a big night out with academics and experts, signing up for three separate sessions.

Considering university students spend thousands on their education, only to sleep through their lectures, the pair pondered the popularity of informal learning after a full day of work.

Screen Shot 2018-01-06 at 5.02.39 PM.png

"So I think the engagement is higher when people have chosen to come."

Ms Plisko agreed.

"It's a good way of seeing Melbourne, the city as well. We hadn't been to any of these bars before, so it's a good reason to come back for a bite to eat," she said.

Screen Shot 2018-01-06 at 5.04.45 PM.png

How to pick the Raising the Bar talk that’s right for you

Screen Shot 2018-01-06 at 4.52.48 PM.png

Have a taste of what is on offer

Raising the Bar Sydney is back for another round. If you need a refresher, Raising the Bar sees the University of Sydney take education out of the lecture theatre and into bars across Sydney. 

This year you can enjoy two talks in one night; with  academics delivering 20 talks across 10 bars in two different sessions – one at 6.30pm and another at 8pm.

That’s a lot of choices! Which is why we have put together a taste test of bars and talks that nicely compliment each other, so you can sample before you decide. 

Read more


Unlearn what you think you know as fact at these fascinating, free bar talks.

For one night only, Raising the Bar brings the classroom to the bar to encourage people to unlearn the old and to explore ideas consolidated by new research. In 10 bars across Sydney, 20 academics from the University of Sydney will delve into topics as diverse as body clocks, gambling, refugees, Taylor Swift and the Mediterranean diet.

The hugely-popular pub talks are held yearly in New York, Hong Kong, London and, for the third year running, Sydney. Raising the Bar was initiated by scholars from Columbia and New York Universities with the underlying aim of introducing newly discovered research to the public, in a non-academic environment.

Topics this year include a discussion on the usefulness of FitBits, a plunge into the link between Internet memes and US politics, and an exploration of the possibilities of using robots to help us deal with social and environmental change.

Check the website to book your free ticket and further info on all talks. But get in soon — these talks will fill up super fast.


We think it's safe to say that the first ever #RTBAKL event was absolutely incredible tonight! Thank you to everyone that came out to the talks to learn and socialize, and to our amazing speakers for sharing their wealth of knowledge.

University of Auckland takes lectures to the pub, following international trend


Last updated 15:14, July 24 2017


Auckland academics are ditching the lecture theatre for the city's bars.

The University of Auckland will send 20 academics to lecture at 10 Auckland bars as a part of a worldwide initiative next month.

The event, called "Raising the Bar", aims to make education a greater part of the city's culture by giving the community the chance to engage with leading academics in a friendly, accessible and laid back atmosphere.

The initiative originated in New York in 2015 and is designed to break down the perception that higher education deepens socioeconomic inequality by pushing away prospective students.

Raising the Bar quickly spread to Melbourne, Sydney, San Francisco, London, Hong Kong and now Auckland.

University of Auckland director of alumni relations and development Mark Bentley said the lecture topics would reflect the younger "Ted Talk generation".

The sessions, being held on August 29, would be fascinating, quick and informative, he said. 

Read more

Raising the Bar: Sharks and the brain

What sharks can teach us about our brains


The human cerebellum occupies 10% of brain volume, but has nearly 80% of the nerve cells! What does our cerebellum do? Why does it need so many nerve cells? The answer may lie in the brains of sharks.

Our cerebellum evolved from these cerebellum-like structures in these magnificent beasts, yet sharks can use theirs for amazing things. For example, they can detect weak bioelectric fields from prey whilst distinguishing from their own.

Join Professor John Montgomery as he draws the link between the brains of sharks and the human mind. Read More.


Some of University of Auckland’s finest academics are leaving the “ivory tower” and heading to the pubs in Ponsonby ... and a few other places around town.

Auckland is joining a growing list of international universities that have decided to mix education with popular culture (drinking).

On August 29, 20 leading academics will give talks in 10 Auckland bars. The topics range from the ethics of drone strikes to how pop songs are created.

The idea of turning bars into mini “think tanks” for a night came from a group of New York students.

RAISING THE BAR (RTB) spread from New York to San Francisco, London, Sydney, Melbourne and Hong Kong. University of Auckland picked up on the idea while holding a function for its alumni in New York.

Director of Alumni relations and development, Mark Bentley, says: "We are always looking for ways to engage with our alumni, and the younger ones are harder to reach.


Nice to meet you, New Zealand!

Raise Your Glass to Knowledge

Auckland is the latest city to join a worldwide initiative to transform bars into lecture theatres.

The University of Auckland is hosting a Raising the Bar event on August 29, when leading academics will give 20 free talks at 10 inner-city Auckland bars on one night.

With topics ranging from why terrorists want to kill us, getting up in space, to life among the robots, Aucklanders with a thirst for knowledge will be spoilt for choice.

The concept for Raising the Bar originated in New York, with the aim of making education a greater part of a city’s popular culture. It has since expanded to major cities around the world including San Francisco, Hong Kong, Sydney, London, and Melbourne.

For the inaugural Auckland event the University has collaborated with bars in close proximity to one another so attendees may be able to visit up to two venues on the night.


Tech Takeover: Changes, Predictions, and Opportunities

One-on-one with Raising the Bar Speaker Scott Galloway
By: Ben Gilden

We are only scratching the surface of what can be done with data. The question remains, however, whether these new jobs will be created as fast as the jobs being destroyed.
— Scott Galloway

We recently sat down with digital entrepreneur and NYU professor Scott Galloway to discuss the current state of the technology world. The California-native shares his views on the most dominating companies in the digital space, his predictions for the future, as well as advice he has for people looking to enter the workforce today.

Scott has spoken at two Raising the Bar events in New York: His first entitled “True Romance: Luxury and Digital” and his second entitled “The Four Horsemen: Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google”.

Where do you work currently and what do you do?

Scott: I’m the founder and chairman of L2, a digital intelligence firm that benchmarks the digital performance of consumer brands, and identifies digital strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities. I’m also an adjunct professor at NYU Stern School of business where I teach Brand Strategy and Digital Marketing to second-year MBA students

Which specific element of the digital world is particularly fascinating to you at this time, and why?

Scott: Amazon. The company has already dominated retail with a fulfillment service (Prime) that nobody can compete with, and it captures one of every $2 spent on goods online.There are also the lesser known parts: Amazon Media Group, Amazon Web Services. The latter brought it 3.2 billion in revenue in Q3 2016, a 55% increase since last year. With all of the information, Amazon has of 300 million customers, it is well positioned to grab a large portion of the advertising industry.

Since your Raising the Bar talk "The Four Horsemen: Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google," have things changed significantly in the digital space? How correct were your predictions in terms of growth and decline of these companies, or is it still too early to tell?

Scott: Things have changed but stayed relatively the same. These are still the top companies in tech and “The Four Horsemen” of our era. Here are how our predictions for each of them turned out: 

Amazon – We were wrong. We said Amazon was going to suffer from its lack of retail footprint. Amazon has only grown since then. Macy’s stock plummeted in January after a meek holiday season, making it just one of the retailers

Google – We were right and wrong. Google+ is still a failure and Google has opted out of wearables. However, Google controls 52% of all growth in digital advertising. Facebook controls 38% and all the other players are fighting for the scraps, i.e. 10% of all digital advertising growth.

Facebook – We were right. Facebook’s acquisitions are on point. It acquired Instagram at the right time and set its sights on Snapchat when it realized it’s where the youth are spending their time. When it couldn’t acquire Snapchat, it offered a version on Instagram called Stories. Stories have all the features of Snapchat but better targeting and analytics, which makes it a more attractive platform for brands.

Apple – We were right. Apple is now a luxury brand. It partnered with Hermès to sell $2,000 watches. It has been a successful effort, and the Apple Watch is not on everyone’s wrist because it is a luxury product.

Which major tech company do you have your eye on in 2017?

Scott: Uber. Uber is more than a ride-sharing service and is gaining traction on Uber Eats and Uber Rush. These local, short-window, same day delivery services are the only chance retailers have against Amazon.

Which startups do you think we should continue to watch? 

Scott: Anything in messaging. Whatsapp has been another successful acquisition in Facebook, and the other major social media players – Instagram, Snapchat – have upped their game in messaging. This phenomenon has already happened in Asia: WeChat growth is outpacing Sina Weibo, and Line has become an $8 billion business by being a platform where users and brands can message each other.

In what ways has digitalization affected marketing strategies?

Scott: Is traditional marketing even relevant anymore? Targeting and relevance have become even more important. Facebook and Google, which I believe have ads that suck less than others, have experienced tremendous growth in digital advertising and it is not a coincidence. Traditional television ads are no longer relevant to the viewer. For example, on cable TV I see ads for bipolar disorder and restless leg syndrome.

Do you have any advice for young people looking to advance in digital or business world today?

Scott: My controversial advice is this: Don’t follow your passion. If you enter a field like filmmaking or nightclub ownership, you will likely be paid significantly less than your peers who are working in boring fields like finance and accounting. My advice is to find something you are good at - and it must be difficult for others to do – and work hard at it to make a great living that allows you to enjoy life to the fullest.

My controversial advice is this: Don’t follow your passion.

Do you think the digital market will become as condensed as the media market in terms of a few big companies owning most of the market share, or do you think that many small companies will continue to pop up and remain individual entities?

Scott: It is already condensed. As I mentioned in my response to a previous question, Google and Facebook collectively account for 90% of the growth happening in digital advertising. It is possible that one or two new players emerge, but it will remain a winner-take-all field.

Do you foresee that there will be a growth in the number of jobs available in the high-tech world, or have we reached the peak? Why?

Scott: Growth will continue as the tech sector is on the verge of explosion. Room for innovation remains in many areas: smarter cars, smarter cities, security, health care, the Internet of Things, and wireless networks. We are only scratching the surface of what can be done with data. The question remains, however, whether these new jobs will be created as fast as the jobs being destroyed. Certain jobs like retail salesperson, real estate broker, factory worker are becoming increasingly irrelevant, and the jobs being added require extensive education. The new jobs being created are either high-salaried roles in Cupertino or factory positions in Zhengzhou, creating a gap in the middle class that tech leaders and policy makers have to work together to resolve.

You're next, Hong Kong! 

We're thrilled to announce our return to Hong Kong for the another #RTBHK event!

On Tuesday, March 28, we'll be hosting 10 talks at 10 local bars in Hong Kong on everything from climate change to public health to storytelling and even beauty pageants! Our speakers this year include world-renowned professors, doctors, and business leaders, so it's sure to be an inspiring night full of learning and fun! Make sure to head to our website for more information on how you can grab tickets to each of the talks before they are gone! 


2016 was an incredible year for Raising the Bar!

Thousands of people showed up to our talks around the world to meet like-minded individuals and learn from professors, innovators, scientists, and countless other thought leaders. Everyone at Raising the Bar would like to wish you a very sweet new year full of laughter, learning, and inspiration! We have many exciting things happening for you in 2017, so be on the lookout for more information!

unnamed (1).png

7 Days of Genius Festival

In March, we partnered with 92Y in NYC to bring you a special mini-series and celebrate the 7 Days of Genius Festival, together with 30 other cities around the world! All of the events were sold out and featured professors from Columbia, Cornell Tech, and Northwestern and more! Listen to podcasts from the event here

Barnard X Raising the Bar

Later that month, we celebrated Women's History Month at Barnard College with a special event honoring the leadership in women's education and showcasing lectures by Barnard professors! Check out a recap here

Cornell Tech X Raising the Bar

In May, we partnered with Cornell Tech for the first ever Cornell Tech X Raising the Bar event, featuring professors of Information Science. We learned how they plan to radically improve people’s lives through technology. Check out pictures from the event in our Facebook album
The event went so well, that in September, we launched a second sold out Cornell Tech mini-series! In this series, we learned about the secret underground world of bitcoins and heard about some inspiring technological innovations.

Raising the Bar Sydney

In October, we headed to the land down under to hold our second annual #RTBSYD event in partnership with the University of Sydney! The sold out event included 20 professors from the university speaking at 20 different bars on a variety of topics including everything from sexting and fitness to innovation and murder! Listen to full-length podcasts from the event here.


Raising the Bar Melbourne

Finally, in November, we stayed in Australia and partnered with the City of Melbourne to launch the first ever #RTBMELB event! 20 professionals from all over the world, including a bestselling author, a world-renowned astronomer, and a director of a prestigious gallery came out and spoke at bars all around Melbourne. The talks were extremely fascinating, and the event featured the first ever pop-up bar in Raising the Bar history! We just released podcasts of all the talks, so make sure to listen to them here!

unnamed (2).jpg
unnamed (1).jpg

Screen Shot 2016-11-21 at 9.05.45 AM.png

Melbourne's pubs will be turned into classrooms for one night.

This Wednesday, November 23 ten of Melbourne's bars and pubs will be transformed into classrooms for a night of talks — 20 of them, to be exact, which means there are at least 20 new things for you to discuss and learn about. Raising the Bar will see academics deliver free talks around the city, bringing the concept that "good ideas are born at the bar" to life.
Previously established a few years back by students from New York and Columbia Universities and having been hosted in Sydney twice already, this is the first year the event will come to Melbourne to showcase a range of speakers, ideas, and themes. Pick one that'll interest you, teach you something new, or get you animated, standing and gesturing dramatically with your beer glass. Read More

Screen Shot 2016-11-21 at 8.56.29 AM.png

We are living in interesting linguistic times, says Monash professor Kate Burridge, a specialist in swearing, and how languages and taboos evolve. "We hear swearing a lot more than we used to," she says from the bar of her favourite local. Later this week, she will be giving a free lecture in a CBD bar, on swearing.

It's a topic, she says, that lends itself well to a Melbourne bar. "Colloquial language has always had a very special significance in Australia, and that goes right back to ... the very earliest Australian English."Hers is just one of 20 talks this week, in an attempt at combining two things that Melbourne does well: education, and drinking.

The talks will occur across 10 city-centre bars on Wednesday night, part of a global education initiative, Raising The Bar. The event, organised by Melbourne City Council, is designed to turn the bars into pop-up learning labs, with speakers presenting their research and insights as part of the evening. Read More

Huffington Post:'Raising The Bar Brings Top Academics To Sydney Bars

Sydneysiders will soon be able to pull up a stool next to an academic for a night as a worldwide initiative, 'Raising The Bar', hits the city.

"We're coming out of our echo chamber and speaking with people outside the 'ivory tower'," Associate Professor at the University of Sydney Dieter Hochuli told the Huffington Post Australia.

"This is a great opportunity to share our passion and enthusiasm for the work that we do with the community."

This is not your usual lecture scene. On October 18, the University of Sydney will host 20 academics as they hit 20 of the city's watering holes -- from the Annandale Hotel to Redfern's Cake/Wine Bar -- to deliver 20 thought-provoking talks.

The University of Sydney has joined Raising the Bar to bring the popular worldwide initiative, previously run in New York, Hong Kong and London, to Sydneysiders.

 Read More

Raising the Bar + Cornell Tech

IMG_1571 (1).JPG
I think it’s safe to say that you’re more accustomed to sitting where you are than I am to standing where I am. It’s the first talk I’ve ever given in a bar
— Professor Deborah Estrin at the beginning of her bar-talk

The talk was organized by Raising the Bar, a new initiative aiming to infuse education into cities’ popular culture by arranging “knowledge-driven events” in bars. In this case, the event was hosted by Bo’s, a New Orleans-inspired restaurant in New York’s Flatiron district. Attendees sipped Cajun-style cocktails, as they sat listening at small tables.

Estrin, a self-described “technologist: an engineer in the age of things digital” focused on the ways in which we can use “small data”—the data generated through our individual daily digital activities—to learn how our short term choices are affecting our health in the long term.

Read More

176 Talks, 226 Speakers, 4 Continents, 2 years.

We're celebrating two years, and what a journey it has been!

We met some amazing folks along the way and were able to inspire people all over the world thanks to our awesome speakers, partners, and global teams. Over the past two years, we were thrilled to hear our speakers deliver lectures that made people think, ask questions, and engage in some amazing conversations.

Huge thanks to our community for Raising the Bar with us! We couldn't have done it without you.

Stay curious,

Your RTB Team