Recommended Reading

Technological transformation of the workforce: the importance of the humanities in an automated future

H21 President Peter Acton chatted to Jonathan Green and Tim Dunlop on Radio National on Sunday, on the future of our workforce and the likely obsolescence of many of today’s professions, thanks to technology and automation. Our education system will need a radical overhaul, and the role of the humanities – which teach critical thinking, empathy, nuanced analysis and adaptability – will be ever more crucial in this not-so-distant future. Listen here.

This topic is receiving well-overdue attention at the moment, with pieces from Jessica Irvine in The Age, Tim Dunlop (author of Why the Future is Workless) in The Guardian and Peter Judd in the Geelong Advertiser.

Dunlop argues: ‘In a development rarely discussed by politicians – who tend to dismiss the arts as soft and impractical – it means that higher education in arts-related subjects, including ethics, critical thinking and social relationships are also likely to be valued and in (relative) demand. An ability to deal with ambiguity, complexity and diversity will be desirable … Facebook would do well to heed such advice. They are brilliant at solving the engineering problems associated with running the biggest social media platform in the universe, but dreadful at defining the community standards that govern what appears in their news feed. A few more arts majors – from anthropologists to journalists – would help them deal with the grey areas that inevitably arise.’


STEM Education is Vital, but Not at the Expense of the Humanities
The decisions of various politicians to ignore and diminish the importance of humanities education in our society will have a negative impact on our future economy, argues the Scientific American. To achieve the best results for economies and businesses on an individual level, the humanities and STEM education need to work together.

Meet the Parents Who Won’t Let Their Children Study Literature
‘This focus on college as job training reflects not only a misreading of the data on jobs and pay, but also a fundamental misunderstanding of the way labor markets work, the way careers develop and the purpose of higher education.’ Steven Pearlstein, in the Washington Post, laments the decline of humanities majors and busts the myths of vocational difficulties.

Good news for the earning prospects of Arts students!
As we argue rather frequently, the future of the Arts student is not so dire as some would have you believe. The Wall Street Journal reports that while graduate employment may seem difficult, data suggests that studies in humanities disciplines will in fact pay off (literally) in the long run. Some reasons given for the attractiveness of arts students as job candidates is that they ‘think broadly and communicate effectively. They aren’t stuck in a rut. They can challenge ideas.’ Valuable employees in a variety of sectors, it would seem.

Congratulations to Dr Sarah Midford and Dr Rhiannon Evans!

Image via La Trobe
Image via La Trobe

Congratulations to our friends, Dr Sarah Midford and Dr Rhiannon Evans, whose first-year subject ‘The Roman World’ at La Trobe has been recognised for its innovation, with a Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning. The subject uses TV, film, podcasts and other media to make the Ancient world more accessible, and to break down perceptions that Latin or Ancient Greek are required in order to study the Classics. Excellent work!


LGBTI History Month
Victorian students will celebrate LGBTI History Month during October. An exciting initiative that will highlight the often-ignored histories of sexually diverse Australians, LGBTI History Month will be directed by the Safe Schools Coalition Victoria, Minus18 and the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives. ‘We all need to hear stories about ourselves and things in relation to our past as a community in order to feel like we have a future’, said Roz Ward, SSCV Manager.




Image via University of Melbourne

Short Course: Unearthing Persia’s/Iran’s Cultural Identity
The heartland of Persia/Iran has a rich history that is often ignored and covered up, with much of its public image defined by its status as an Islamic Republic. This series of four evening classes will explore its culture, art, language and history. No prior knowledge of Persian language or history required! From Wednesday 9 November, 6:15pm-8:15pm, University of Melbourne. $50-60 (individual sessions); $190-230 (full series). Details here.


The Past is Present: History, Culture and Conflict
Historians play a crucial role in shaping our understandings of cultural struggles, from genocide in Bosnia Hercegovina to the feminist struggle in East Timor. This series from Melbourne Free University explores ways in which contemporary historians are speaking about and interpreting the past. In Women’s Words: Gender, Memory and Violence in Timor-Leste, Thursday 13 October, 6:30pm, The Alderman (Upstairs); Who Speaks in Museums? Creating Spaces for New Histories in Contemporary Museums, Thursday 20 October, 6:30pm, The Alderman (Upstairs). Details here.

Talking About Translation: History, Art and Language
This panel brings together Melbourne-based artists and writers from diverse backgrounds to share stories about what might be lost and gained through translation. Nadia Rhook, John Young, Allison Chan, Rani Pramesti and Vicki Couzens will ponder which kinds of spaces support the translation of linguistic and cultural differences, and the importance of language in the making of place, art, stories and identity Saturday 15 October, 12:00pm, City Library. Free. More info here.

Redmond Barry and the Trial of Ned Kelly
Judge Sir Redmond Barry sentenced the outlaw Ned Kelly to death. Twelve days later, Barry died of natural causes, as Kelly had predicted from the dock. For many people it was Barry, not Kelly, who became the villain of the piece. 136 years later, can we give Redmond Barry a fair trial? Dr Andrew Lemon  will discuss the way historians have dealt with the reputation of this controversial colonial judge. Sunday 23 October, 2:30pm, Old Treasury Building. Free, bookings essential. Book here.

Marcus Clarke Lecture: Marvellous Melbourne
Professor Stuart Macintyre has been voted one of Australia’s most influential historians, and will speak about Melbourne in the second half of the 19th Century. The annual Marcus Clarke Lecture was launched last year as part of the Melbourne Athenaeum Library’s 175th birthday celebrations. The lectures are designed to provoke conversation and confirm Melbourne as a culturally rich and inquiring city. Friday 21 October, 6:00pm, Athenaeum Library. Free. More details here.

Roman Opulence: The Case of Murder and Mayhem in the Arena
According to records, the Roman Emperor Trajan slaughtered 11,000 animals in the Colosseum over 123 days. These animals would have been transported from as far away as Africa, at great expense, just to die for the entertainment of the masses. But to what extent can we know what went on 2,000 odd years ago? This lecture will bust some myths about Roman opulence  and compare them to today’s spectacle entertainments. Tuesday 18 October, 6:00pm, City Library. Free. More details here.

History Week 2016
Whip out your diary and plan how you’ll spend this History Week – traveling back in time, exploring Victoria’s fascinating past. From walking tours to engaging discussions to exhibitions and ‘history in the making’ events – there is something in store for everyone to enjoy. The full program is up on the Royal Historical Society of Victoria’s website. 16-23 October. Prices vary, majority of events are free. Details here.

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