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[1]Thinkers in Residence was a program in Adelaide, South Australia, that brought leaders in their fields to work with the South Australian community and government in developing new ideas and approaches to problem solving, and to promote South Australia.[2][3]

The concept of the Thinkers in Residence program was announced by the Hon Mike Rann, South Australian Opposition Leader, in November 2000.[4] It was inspired by Greg Mackie's Adelaide Festival of Ideas. Invited guests would spend three months in Adelaide, assisting the government and community in tackling problems and exploring opportunities for the state.[5] Mr Rann, after his election as Premier in 2002, funded the Thinkers program, which ran for 2003 for 9 years. In 2012 Mr Rann’s successor, Premier Jay Weatherill, discontinued the Thinkers program as a budget-saving measure.[6]

In 2013 the Don Dunstan Foundation hosted the first residency outside of government, with a particular focus on South Australia's live music industry. The residency was incredibly successful, resulting in the establishment of St Paul's Creative Centre and the Music Development Office, along with the designation of Adelaide as a UNESCO City of Live Music.

The Thinkers in Residence Program formally transitioned in 2016 to the Don Dunstan Foundation. The next residency in 2017 will focus on Social Enterprise and Impact Innovation.[7]



In nine years of operation, the Adelaide Thinkers in Residence program made an outstanding contribution to public policy making in South Australia. It delivered positive changes in a rapid timeframe. Between 2003 and 2012 the program resulted in more than $300 million of investment in programs and infrastructure, both in South Australia and across the nation. The Australian Federal Government provided a significant proportion of this investment, itself an endorsement of the ideas being incubated in South Australia.

In 2011 a representative of the Adelaide City Council wrote a testimonial letter to the Thinkers in Residence program highlighting the program's "positive influence in the development of strategies and policies for enhancing the City." [8]

  • As a result of the work of Thinker Baroness Professor Susan Greenfield, the Royal Institution of Australia and the Australian Science Media Centre were established in Adelaide.
  • Thinkers Professor Stephen Schneider and Herbert Girardet assisted the SA government in developing its renewable energy and climate change policies, which have led to South Australia having 31% of its electricity coming from wind and solar power.
  • Rosanne Haggerty, from New York, advised the government on how better to tackle rough sleeping homelessness. Her "Common Ground" program involved the multimillion-dollar construction of specialist inner-city apartments in Adelaide. Common Ground has now been adopted in other states.
  • Fred Hansen, a Thinker in Residence from Portland, Oregon, convinced the government to invest in expanding its tram network. He also advised the government to make strategic, rather than reactive, investments in infrastructure. Mr Hansen is now the head of Adelaide’s Urban Renewal Authority, overseeing the $1 billion Bowden Village development and other projects.
  • Professor Laura Lee, former Head of Architecture at Carnegie Mellon University, proposed the establishment of an Integrated Design Commission to encourage a better and more cohesive design culture in Adelaide.
  • Professor Göran Roos, from the UK, advised the South Australian and Federal governments on advanced manufacturing strategies.
  • Canada’s Fraser Mustard and Italy’s Carla Rinaldi advised the SA government on reforms to early childhood education.

List of Thinkers in Residence and the titles of their reports [9]Edit

  • Carla Rinaldi - Re-imagining Childhood
  • Martin Seligman - The State of Wellbeing
  • Alexandre Kalache - The Longevity Revolution
  • John McTernan - Are you being served?
  • Göran Roos - Manufacturing into the future
  • Fred Wegman - Driving down the road toll by building a Safe System
  • Fred Hansen - All on board: Building vibrant communities through transport
  • Peggy Hora - Smart Justice: Building Safer Communities, Increasing Access to the Courts, and Elevating Trust and Confidence in the Justice System.
  • Laura Lee[10]
  • Genevieve Bell - Getting Connected, Staying Connected: Exploring South Australia's Digital Futures
  • Andrew Fearne[11] - Sustainable Food and Wine Value Chains
  • Geoff Mulgan - Innovation in 360 Degrees: Promoting Social Innovation in South Australia
  • Ilona Kickbusch- Healthy Societies: Addressing 21st Century Health Challenges
  • Dennis Jaffe - The Future of Family Business in South Australia
  • Fraser Mustard - Investing in the Early Years: Closing the gap between what we know and what we do
  • Stephen Schneider - Climate Change: Risks and Opportunities
  • Rosanne Haggerty - Smart Moves: Spending to Saving, Streets to Home
  • Susan Greenfield[12] - Getting the Future First
  • Peter Wintonick - Southern Screens : Southern Stories Building a New Screen Culture in South Australia
  • Maire Smith - Developing a Bioeconomy in South Australia
  • Peter Cullen - Water challenges for South Australia in the 21st Century
  • Blast Theory - New media, art and a creative culture
  • Charles Landry - Rethinking Adelaide: ‘capturing imagination’
  • Herbert Girardet - Creating a Sustainable Adelaide
  • Brian Vincent


  1. ^ Adelaide Sceptics Association, Free Thought Group. "Free Thinkers Adelaide".
  2. ^ "Adelaide Thinkers in Residence". Govt. of South Australia. Archived from the original on 2014-01-26. Retrieved 2010-03-29.
  3. ^ "Thinkers in Residence". Social Innovator. Social Innovation eXchange. Retrieved 2010-03-29.
  4. ^ SA opposition News Release, 2 November 2000
  5. ^ SA opposition News Release, 14 July 2000
  6. ^ Thinkers in Residence program to be scrapped, The Advertiser, 30 May 2012
  7. ^ "Adelaide Thinkers In Residence". The University of Adelaide. Retrieved 2017-01-29.
  8. ^ Letter from Christine Evans, Corporate Manager, Marketing and Creative Media, Adelaide City Council, dated 31 March 2011
  9. ^ Reports as listed on the archived website of the Thinkers in Residence program:
  10. ^ "Lee Brings Expertise to Adelaide". Carnegie Mellon University. 2009. Retrieved 2010-03-30.
  11. ^ Homer, Annabelle (2009-10-06). "Thinker-in-residence challenges producers". ABC Rural - Country Hour. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2010-03-30.
  12. ^ Salkow, Howard (August 2004). "Adelaidean -- Adelaide's Thinker in Residence". Adelaidean. University of Adelaide. Retrieved 2010-03-30.

External linksEdit

  • ^ "Adelaide Thinkers in Residence". Govt. of South Australia. Archived from the original on 2014-12-18. Retrieved 2016-07-13.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)