Archived Events

*** The Idealist Quarterly started out as a networking event for the idealists and progressives of Brussels, run by Bruno Selun. The below events were organised by him.
In 2023, the project was taken over by Christina Wunder, who is now organising the community’s networking events. ***

IQ 13: WHAT COVID-19 IS TELLING US ABOUT OUR HEALTH SYSTEMS WITH ALANNA SHAIKH – APRIL 24 2020

The current crisis is stretching our European public healthcare systems. Our economic and social lives are on hold to #flattenthecurve and keep deaths to a minimum.

However, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is not the first, nor the last challenge to our healthcare systems, as experts expect additional phases to the current epidemic and additional epidemics in the future.

What lessons does this crisis hold for our future healthcare systems? And how is this crisis changing us individually?

On April 24th, Alanna Shaikh, a health systems expert specialised in individual, organisational and systemic resilience, will be the guest of our upcoming Idealist Quarterly event. Her TEDx speech about the recent pandemic has been viewed over 15 million times.

Alanna will join the Idealist Quarterly’s very first online edition on 24 April 2020 at 11:45.

Alanna at TEDxSMU:


IQ 12: A GREENER-THAN-EVER EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT! WITH MEP TERRY REINTKE – SEPTEMBER 10, 2019

Although populist and far-right parties won big in a few Member States, the predicted success of anti-EU parties failed to materialise in Brussels.

Instead, across Europe – and especially in Germany – voters young and old sent a green wave to Brussels. The Greens saw their biggest turnout ever in European elections, setting the stage for what may be a deeper, more significant, and long-term change in European politics.

What made this possible? What was the campaign like from within? And what role will the Greens play in the next European Parliament?

Coming back to Brussels for a fierce second mandate, MEP Terry Reintke (Greens-EFA/Germany) shared inside campaign stories, told us what’s on the Greens’ agenda for the new legislature, and – most importantly – cheered with us to progressive EU politics.


IQ 11: WHY HUMAN RIGHTS MUST EVOLVE OR DIE, WITH JONATHAN ROWSON – JULY 11, 2019

Human rights and today’s global liberal order were forged in the hot ashes of two world wars.
But as the twenty-first century unfolds, our global paradigm evolves.Instead of old war, we must reckon with our global environmental crisis, AI, and life- and ethics-changing science.

Are yesterday’s solutions still suitable for today’s problems?

In a fascinating conversation, Scottish philosopher and Open Society fellow Jonathan Rowson will take us through the questions we must ask of human rights, of politics, and of ourselves in this century.

Jointly brought to you by the Open Society European Policy Institute and The Idealist Quarterly.


IQ10: CAN EUROPE SAVE HUNGARIAN DEMOCRACY? – SEPTEMBER 4, 2018

Over the last eight years, sweeping reforms have taken aim at judges, free media, higher education… and now NGOs.

The pillars of Hungarian democracy are under attack, and yet we know little about those defending it.

Meet Márta Pardavi: a lawyer, activist, and co-chair of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, a leading human rights organisation in Budapest.

Márta will tell us what a crackdown against democracy really looks like, how NGOs are responding, and what Europe should do to defend democracy in Hungary.


IQ9: REINVENTING PROGRESSIVE POLITICS FOR THE 2020S – JUNE 26, 2018

As the world grows ever more divided, so does politics. And in a climate of distrust, what chances are left for progressives to win elections and transform politics?

Frances Foley from Compass, who works across parties, campaigns and communities to make the UK’s political culture more progressive.

In the 2017 general election, Frances and her team nurtured over 40 cross-party alliances in which candidates stepped aside to support the best-placed progressive candidates – regardless of the party.

Frances shared her thoughts on how to work across political boundaries, how to rebuild trust between activists and politicians, and when to put political differences aside for a common cause.


IQ8: A DIFFERENT TAKE ON MIGRATION WITH ADAM ELSOD – MAY 3, 2018

Migration is fast becoming THE defining issue in European politics. Yet, migrants themselves can rarely join the debate.

Meet Adam Elsod, co-Founder of The Young Republic: a youth organisation that empowers young refugees to engage and participate in their host communities in Europe.

A provocative and pragmatic speaker, Adam shared his thoughts on the current narrative around migration, and how we must welcome more voices to truly become inclusive democracies.


IQ7: “DEAR POLITICS, TIME TO MEET CREATIVITY!” WITH STEPHEN BOUCHER –  NOVEMBER 28, 2017

If we say “innovation”, do you think “politics”? Probably not.

Our challenging and uncertain times call for creative problem-solving. Can politicians hope to address 21st-century issues with 20th-century tactics? And if not, what do creative politics look like in practice?

On November 28 Stephen Boucher, author of The Little Manual of Political Creativity joined for the 7th Idealist Quarterly. A Harvard graduate with a wealth of experience in public affairs, Stephen previously worked at the European Climate Foundation, advised the Belgian government, and currently lectures at Brussels’ Solvay Business School.

Stephen’s book left us positively enthused and hopeful about what politics could be, and probably will be.


IQ6: BUILDING FEARLESS DEMOCRACIES WITH GERALD HENSEL – SEPTEMBER 26, 2017

Meet Gerald, Founder of Fearless Democracy: a network of advertising and communication professionals helping politicians, citizens and companies counter hate online.

After receiving thousands of hate messages and death threats for his campaign to divert advertising money from far-right media, Gerald turned his talent to supporting victims of online mobbing and shifting the conversation about online hate.

Gerald shared his inspiring journey from victim to digital activist, and his thoughts on what lies ahead in the fight against online hate speech.

Couldn’t join us? Watch the recorded live session here.


IQ5: DOES EUROPE STILL NEED FEMINISM? THOUGHTS FROM AN IRISH ACTIVIST – JUNE 22, 2017

For over 40 years, Ailbhe Smyth has led countless social movements in Ireland. From women’s rights in the 1970s, to marriage equality in 2015, to abortion today… A lecturer, author and impassioned feminist, Ailbhe Smyth explained to us why feminism remains as relevant as ever.

Check out photos from the event here.

Ailbhe Smyth: Feminist and reproductive rights activist. Women’s rights have come a long way over the last 50 years, so far in fact that some might ask, do we still need feminism at all? For over 40 years Ailbhe Smyth has been a leading figure in countless social movements in Ireland. Fighting for women’s rights as a college student in the 1970s, to playing a central role in the campaign for Marriage equality in 2015, Ailbhe is now leading the fight to repeal the eighth amendment. As a lecturer, author and impassioned feminist activist Ailbhe Smyth will tell us why feminism remains as relevant as ever.


IQ4: CAN PROGRESSIVE STORIES SURVIVE OUR POST-TRUTH ERA? – APRIL 6, 2017

On 6 April Rita Ruduša joined us to share her experience as a veteran journalist and author reporting and telling progressive stories in Latvia just as it gained independence from the USSR.

In a time of blazing debates on fake news and post-truth, Rita explained how facts can still move, convey and convince.

Check out photos from the event here.

Rita Ruduša: Executive Director of the Baltic Centre for Media Excellence, Rita Ruduša has been a journalist and editor since the early nineties. She was among the first special correspondents following Latvia’s independence, where she covered fast cultural and political changes at a key moment for Europe. She has worked for progressive media, both in print and broadcast, and is the author of the book Forced Underground about homosexuals in Soviet Latvia.


IQ3: HOW THE IRISH PEOPLE SAID “YES!” – DECEMBER 8, 2016

In 2015, the Irish people said yes to marriage equality: the first country in the world to do so by referendum. How was this contentious vote won by a staggering 62%? Can we still make a nationwide case for progressive issues?

On 8 December 2016 Brian Sheehan wowed the IQ crowd with his portrayal of how the campaign for marriage equality in Ireland managed to persuade, reassure and mobilise voters – across generations – to create positive change.

Check out photos from the event here.

Brian Sheehan: As co-director of the award winning YesEquality campaign and Execute Director of GLEN (Gay Lesbian Equality Network), Brian Sheehan played a central role in creating a truly inspiring and ingenious progressive movement both in Ireland and internationally.


IQ2: CAN DESIGN CHANGE THE WORLD? WITH YARA AL-ADIB – OCTOBER 11, 2016

The second edition of Idealist Quarterly took place on 11 October 2016 when we were joined by the refreshing Yara Al- Adib, a bright young designer and social entrepreneur. Born in Syria, studied in Kuwait and Italy now living and working in Brussels, Yara Al-Adib has a unique perspective on the world and uses her skills as a designer to create effective social change. Yara truly inspired our community of progressive and idealists with her outlook on the world and her ability to focus on the solutions – not the problems.

Can design change the world? We think so.

Check out photos from the event here.

Yara Al-Adib – Designer and social entrepreneur: Combining strategy, user experience design, communication and social innovation, Yara Al-Adib works to find solutions for societal and busness challenges based on empathy and co-creation. A unique mediator between East and West, Yara Al-Adib is a bright young designer – with a conscience. With experience spanning Syria, Kuwait, Lebanon, Italy and Belgium, Yara Al-Adib will share her insights on how design can help individuals and societies flourish.


IQ1: AN EVENING WITH SOPHIE IN ‘T VELD MEP – JUNE 15, 2016

On 15 June 2016, we held our first Idealist Quarterly with progressive MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld. Sophie engaged the crowd with her vast experience and continued fight for progressive values in Europe.

Check out photos from the event here.

Sophie in ‘t Veld MEP: Sophie is one of Politico’s 40 MEPs who actually matter, and the first Vice-President of the ALDE group in the European Parliament. Elected since 2004, her outspoken voice has found no equal in landmark debates on civil liberties – and especially women’s rights, LGBTI rights and secularism.