Conference in honour of Robert Manne

Some of Australia’s most respected thinkers, writers and speakers are to converge at La Trobe University at the end of this month to participate in a conference that aims to publicly debate and discuss some of the most controversial issues and challenges of our times.

Professor Robert Manne

The conference is to be held in honour of Professor of Politics Robert Manne, who this year formally retired from La Trobe University. Gwenda Tavan, senior lecturer in Politics at La Trobe University and one of the organisers of the conference, says Professor Manne has played a vital role not only at La Trobe University but also in public debate.

‘The value of intellectual engagement and independence has been at the cornerstone of Robert’s work as one of Australia’s leading intellectuals, and thus thinking for oneself is the guiding theme of this conference,’ says Dr Tavan.

Professor Manne expressed his keen anticipation of the conference and gratitude to its organisers.

‘The conference will cover very many issues that have been central to my life – twentieth century European history, intellectuals and communism, indigenous politics, asylum seekers, multiculturalism, the university and the challenge of climate change. I am honoured that the thirty speakers who have agreed to participate are of the highest calibre.’

‘This conference brings together a number of very well known public thinkers,’ says Dr Tavan. ‘They are people that Robert respects personally and professionally because they embody the notion of thinking for oneself. They are all people who think independently and are not afraid to challenge the status quo.’

‘The conference speakers are an interesting mix of young and older people, many of them very eminent, including Pat Dodson, Raimond Gaita, Ramona Koval, Carmen Lawrence, La Trobe’s Vice Chancellor Professor John Dewar, Hugh White, Patrick McGorry, Ghassan Hage, Clive Hamilton and many others. Former students of Robert’s are also participating, such as David Corlett and Dorota Sach-Krol.’

Part of the conference will be an Ideas and Society Event, which will involve a conversation between Professor Manne and Professor Mick Dodson. They will discuss the past and future of indigenous politics, including the issue of the stolen generations, the Northern Territory intervention and the proposed referendum on indigenous constitutional recognition.

Over a career of nearly forty years, Professor Manne has been a university researcher and teacher but has also been involved in some of the most heated historical and political controversies of our time, stretching from the Cold War to the contemporary challenge of climate change.

‘Robert is one of a number of people of his generation who are retiring, which has broader implications for Australian public debate,’ says Dr Tavan. ‘This conference is an opportunity to reflect on the impact of this generation of public intellectuals.’

The conference is sponsored by La Trobe University and the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. Dr Tavan says that staff members in Social Sciences felt that a conference of this nature was a fitting tribute to the work and impact of Professor Manne, both in terms of the life of the university and the broader social and political culture.

ENDS

What?  Thinking for Yourself: A conference in honour of Professor Robert Manne
Who’s invited?  An open invitation
When?  Thursday 28 February and Friday 1 March 2013
Where?  John Scott Meeting House, La Trobe University, Bundoora
RSVP?  To register your interest in attending please email Bree Ahrens (b.ahrens@latrobe.edu.au)
More information is available here.

For media enquiries or to arrange interviews please contact: 

Suzi Macbeth
Communications Officer
T +61 3 9479 5353 | E s.macbeth@latrobe.edu.au

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