Committee of Management
Dr Peter Acton (President)
Peter Acton has a degree in Classics from Oxford University and an MBA from Stanford University, where he was a Harkness Fellow and an Arjay Miller Scholar. Peter’s own experience has convinced him that the contribution a humanities education brings to commerce, as well as to life more generally, needs to be better appreciated. After working in industrial relations in the UK, he spent 20 years with The Boston Consulting Group in Europe and Australia and was Managing Partner of the Melbourne office from 1995-1999. He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and of the Australian Institute of Management, a member of the Peter McCallum Research Board and a Director of the Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation. In 2010 he was awarded a PhD in Ancient History by the University of Melbourne. His book, Poiesis, on manufacturing in classical Athens, was published by Oxford University Press in 2014.
Gin Atkins believes that the critical thinking, creative, and empathetic skills cultivated by the humanities are vital in tackling the complex problems we face today and in the future. Exercising these skills has been at the centre of her diverse experiences across Australia and England in youth work, education and mental health non-profits, management consulting, and now in product design within a local tech startup. She hopes to better engage the broader community in appreciating the value these disciplines bring in everyday practice, and to break down some of the perceived barriers to participation for those who may not identify with the humanities as useful or accessible tools in the 21st century.
Deborah Cordingley is a principled contrarian: drawing on her background in Western philosophy and literature and passion for classroom teaching, Deborah employs critical and analytical thinking into both academic endeavours and every day life. Deborah see’s the Humanities as the gateway to robust civic involvement and a greater understanding of our collective values. That is, Humanities illuminates our exit from Plato’s cave.
Hannah Gould is a cultural anthropologist, researcher and museum curator. Her research is concerned with death, religion and material culture, with a regional focus on North-East Asia. She has a Masters Degree in Visual, Material and Museum Anthropology from Oxford University (St Antony’s College), for which she was the recipient of the Rae & Edith Bennett Scholarship. She is passionate about pursuing more public, inclusive and engaging models of academic research, particularly through the museum and cultural heritage sector. In 2016 she was awarded the Australian Postgraduate Award to study a PhD at the University of Melbourne, focusing on the contemporary transformation of ancestor worship.
Sue Hamilton began life as a classicist and philosopher, with a Masters in Classics from Oxford University, but has also undertaken post-graduate studies in law and art history. After arriving in Australia in the mid-70s, she had a long career as a senior executive for governments at federal, state and territory levels, in a wide variety of policy and operational settings. Her particular interest over that time was how different forms of communication between government and the community can improve policy and service outcomes. Although she left government employment three times before her final departure in 2012, she has always been lured back by the endless fascination and variety of government work and the potential to make small but significant changes for the better. Her last full-time role for government was at the State Library of Victoria where she spent 8 years as a member of the executive team, latterly as acting Chief Executive Officer and State Librarian.
Jan McGuinness (Vice-President)
Jan McGuinness is a University of Melbourne Arts graduate (English and Politics) and journalist with more than 30 years’ experience. Career highlights include writing features and a daily column for The Age, running The Bulletin‘s Melbourne bureau, reporting and producing for ABC TV’s 7.30 Report and producing and initiating ABC TV arts programming as the Commissioner for Arts and Entertainment. Jan subsequently formed her own production company to create award-winning programs and documentaries in co-production with the ABC. Jan has also worked in the corporate sector providing strategic communications advice, and is a published author. She currently teaches feature writing to Monash University masters students in the School of Journalism and is writing a biography of the Australian writer Shirley Hazzard. Jan is a former board member of Artists and Industry, the Australian Art Orchestra and the Melbourne Writers Festival, where she served as Chair from 2004-2010. She is currently on the governing council of Janet Clarke Hall, University of Melbourne.
Peter McLennan studied Civil Engineering at the University of Melbourne and has a post-graduate Diploma in Development Economics from Cambridge University. After working in construction in Canada, he established a consultancy that advised industry and government on strategic issues. Assignments ranged from R&D strategy for government to start-up feasibility to the impact of technology on workplaces. He also consulted widely on environmental strategy. He has always valued the art of effective reporting, and is committed to the value of the arts in business, particularly in today’s environment where there are such big uncertainties. The arts are, or should be, subversive, and certainly disruptive, and therein lies much of their potential contribution to business and everyday life. Peter’s contribution to Humanities 21 is informed by this belief. He was a member of the Arts+Industry group and is on the board of Australian Book Review, and has contributed to the Melbourne Writers Festival.
Jeff Richardson has a Bachelor of Arts and a Diploma of Education from the University of Melbourne, a Graduate Diploma of Languages from Deakin University and a Masters of Education from Monash University. He worked as Director of Student Services for Trinity College at the University of Melbourne, and was a lecturer at Monash University and a research fellow at RMIT. Jeff was introduced to Ancient Greece as an undergraduate, and it’s a place he has never really left. After decades working in programming, robotics and pioneering online learning, he has returned to undergraduate study of Ancient Greek. Jeff is also a member of The Coodabeen Champions, a comedy troupe that has been performing, recording, publishing and broadcasting for over three decades.
Annelies Van de Ven (Treasurer, Chair of SEAC)
Annelies Van de Ven is a second-year PhD student at the University of Melbourne. Her PhD explores how national archaeology and identity-formation are projected into the public sphere in Iran and Iraq. Before coming to Melbourne she completed a masters degree in Ancient History and Archaeology at the University of St Andrews in Scotland. She has worked with a number of excavation teams. Her ultimate goal is to work in academia, travel writing or cultural education. Annelies also volunteers at the Hellenic Museum, and coordinates an Iranian Studies Research Initiative. In her limited free time she likes to explore the city and travel.
Tracy West completed a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) and a Diploma of Education at the University of London, and a Graduate Diploma of Educational Administration at the University of Melbourne. Her teaching career, in both the UK and Australia, has spanned 39 years. She taught English and Literature at VCE level and Literature for the International Baccalaureate at Presbyterian Ladies College for 21 years, where she was Head of Literature, and most recently taught at Melbourne Girls’ Grammar School for eight years. Tracy is currently a principal examiner of Literature for the International Baccalaureate. Over the years she has attended a variety of educational conferences and examiners’ meetings related to both the VCE and the IB, both in Australia and the UK. Her main interests are in literature, sailing and cycling. She is now retired, and is also a mother and grandmother.
John Armstrong was born in Glasgow, educated in Oxford and London and moved to Australia in 2001. He is the author of seven books, including In Search of Civilisation (2009), Love Life Goethe (2006) and The Secret Power of Beauty (2004) – all published by Penguin. He was Philosopher in Residence at the Melbourne Business School and is currently Senior Advisor in the Office of the Vice Chancellor, University of Melbourne. His latest book, How to Worry Less About Money, came out in May 2012 and has been translated into fourteen languages. He lectures widely, is a regular commentator on ABC radio and contributes to several major international newspapers and journals. He is a colleague of Alain de Botton and is heavily involved in the School of Life.
Events Promotion and Digital Communications Coordinator
Tamara Charlwood completed a Bachelor of Arts in History and Literature at the University of Melbourne in 2014, and is now studying the Juris Doctor. She firmly believes in the value of the humanities, and plans to continue to explore nineteenth century European history and literature. She hopes to also explore Asian history and literature. Tamara generally has her head stuck in either a book or a laptop.
Maeve Martyn completed a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) at Monash University, with a double major in History and Italian. She wrote her honours thesis on Holocaust testimonies, including Primo Levi’s Se questo è un uomo. She has lived in Italy three times and now speaks Italian fluently. Her passion for Renaissance art and pasta encourages her to read Italian novels when she is not working at Humanities 21. She has experience in direct marketing and relishes her role as an advocate for the humanities. Her critical thinking skills and innovative streak she attributes to largely to her Arts degree.
Student Engagement and Advisory Committee (SEAC)
Our Student Engagement and Advisory Committee is a bright team of student volunteers who help us connect with Humanities students.
Ilaria Bigaran (Secretary)
Ilaria Bigaran is in her second year of a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Melbourne, majoring in History and Politics/International Studies. She is an avid humanities enthusiast, and believes that the discipline provides not simply knowledge but also a comprehensive set of skills integral to understanding the world – past, present and future. She tutors in English and is currently learning French, and in her spare time she enjoys reading classic novels. She hopes that though her role with SEAC she can help change the common misconceptions surrounding the humanities and expand Humanities 21’s reach to current undergraduate students.
Jeremy Teow studies History, French and German. His particular focus is on violence and human experience in the modern European past, and he is also interested in pedagogical approaches to the humanities and foreign language learning. Jeremy is currently engaged in various extra-curricular projects relevant to these areas.