Online event: A Farewell to Arts? On the Morrison Government’s University Legislation

Event status:

There was a time, not so long ago, when it was almost universally accepted that one of the principal purposes of the university was the provision of a broad education in either the Arts or the Sciences. That time has passed. In October 2020, the Morrison Government successfully introduced new legislation where the training of the next generation of professionals was implicitly regarded as the sole purpose of the university and where, quite nakedly, the price mechanism was used to persuade students not to study for a degree in the Arts.

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Date:
Thursday 19 November 2020 05:00 pm until Thursday 19 November 2020 06:30 pm (Add to calendar)
Contact:
University Events - Lauren Elliott
events@latrobe.edu.au
Presented by:
Ideas & Society Program
Type of Event:
Alumni; Community Event; Public
Cost:
Free to register

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There was a time, not so long ago, when it was almost universally accepted that one of the principal purposes of the university was the provision of a broad education in either the Arts or the Sciences. That time has passed. In October 2020, the Morrison Government successfully introduced new legislation where the training of the next generation of professionals was implicitly regarded as the sole purpose of the university and where, quite nakedly, the price mechanism was used to persuade students not to study for a degree in the Arts.

According to the logic of this new legislation, an Arts degree would not help students find suitable employment on graduation and was, anyhow, of little value to Australia. To this end, the cost of an Arts degree was increased overnight by 113%.

From its origin, La Trobe University has always placed high value on the study of Humanities and the Social Sciences. For this reason, in a discussion to be moderated by La Trobe’s Professor Clare Wright OAM and introduced by La Trobe’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor John Dewar AO, we have assembled an outstanding panel—Professor Joy Damousi, Professor Tom Griffiths AO, Celeste Liddle and Andrew Norton—to consider some questions raised by this aspect of the new university legislation.

Why does the Morrison Government want to dissuade students from enrolling in an Arts degree?

Will their legislation succeed in its apparent object?

What impact will the more than doubling of the cost of an Arts degree have on the choices made by indigenous students and those from new immigrant communities on entering university?

How has it come to pass that the Morrison Government is indifferent to what Australian conservative governments in the past took for granted—education in the humanities or the social sciences as one of the most vital purposes of the university?

And most fundamentally, in what ways does an education in the humanities and social sciences deepen the understanding of the student and enrich the culture of the nation?

Speakers:

Joy Damousi

Professor Joy Damousi

Professor Joy Damousi is President of the Australian Academy of the Humanities.  She is Professor of History and Director of the Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences at the Australian Catholic University. Professor Damousi has published widely on aspects of political history, memory and aftermaths of war, sound and war, women’s history, history of emotions, and the history of migration and refugees.

Her latest book is Memory and Migration in the Shadow of War: Australia’s Greek Immigrants after World War II and the Greek Civil War (CUP 2015). She is the general editor of a four volume Cambridge World History of Violence published by Cambridge University Press this year.

Tom Griffiths

Professor Tom Griffiths AO

Tom Griffiths AO FAHA is Emeritus Professor of History at the Australian National University. His books and essays have won prizes in history, science, literature, politics and journalism and include The Art of Time Travel: Historians and their Craft (2016), Slicing the Silence: Voyaging to Antarctica (2007), Forests of Ash: An Environmental History (2001) and Hunters and Collectors (1996).

Celeste Liddle

Celeste Liddle

Celeste Liddle is an Arrernte woman, an opinion writer, a trade unionist and public speaker. Celeste started her blog Rantings of an Aboriginal Feminist in June 2012. A mere six weeks after she started it, Celeste had a piece picked up for publication by Daily Life and since then has written for a number of publications. Along with Daily Life (Fairfax), Celeste’s work has been seen in The Guardian, New Matilda, Tracker Magazine, Eureka Street and others, and she has contributed chapters to anthologies such as Pan Macmillan’s Mothers and Others.

Celeste Liddle has a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in theatre and drama from La Trobe University, as well as a Graduate Diploma in Arts (political sciences mainly) from the University of Melbourne and has just completed a Masters in Communications and Media Studies at Monash.

Andrew Norton

Andrew Norton

Andrew Norton is Professor in the Practice of Higher Education Policy at the ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods at the Australian National University. He was previously the Higher Education Program Director at the Grattan Institute.

Mr Norton is the author or co-author of many articles, reports and other publications on higher education issues. These include Dropping out: the benefits and costs of trying university, The cash nexus: how teaching funds research in Australian universities and a reference report on higher education trends and policies, Mapping Australian higher education.

Moderator:

Clare Wright

Professor Clare Wright OAM

Professor Clare Wright OAM is an ARC Future Fellow and Principal Research Fellow in History at La Trobe University.  She is an award-winning historian, author and broadcaster.  The first two books in her best-selling Democracy Trilogy, The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka and You Daughters of Freedom, have been published to critical and popular acclaim.  Clare is the co-host of the LTU podcast, Archive Fever, host of the Radio National history program Shooting the Past, and creator/writer/presenter of the ABC TV documentaries Utopia Girls and The War That Changed Us.

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