From our President, Peter Acton:
‘In the mid-2000s, I found myself doing a lot of consulting for the Vice Chancellor and some of the Deans at the University of Melbourne – so much so, I decided to use my time on campus more fully by becoming a student again, and I signed up for a PhD in Ancient History.
Working at the university in an administrative capacity had given me an insight into the way the Arts Faculty was viewed – namely, as the poor relation. Subsidised, resented and looked down on by better funded faculties.
“Working at the university in an administrative capacity had given me an insight into the way the Arts Faculty was viewed – namely, as the poor relation.”
In a project for the Dean of Arts, I learned that university had no course on Shakespeare nor anyone to deliver one (fortunately no longer the case). As a student, I found that almost every text that had been published on Ancient History in the previous 20 years could only be obtained by inter-library loans, usually from overseas.
I was not only bothered by this neglect of the Arts for the wistful and intangible reasons that most advocates of the humanities profess. I had always held that my career as a Partner in The Boston Consulting Group owed much more to the skills I had acquired in my first degree, which was classics, than my MBA.
“I had always held that my career as a Partner in The Boston Consulting Group owed much more to the skills I had acquired in my first degree, which was classics, than my MBA.”
It seemed to me that the most effective way of changing the incorrect perception that the humanities are not an excellent foundation for a career would be to get academics talking inside companies. Academics would draw on themes within their areas of expertise and relate them to themes such as leadership and managing change, which preoccupy people in many fields of work.
In 2012, together with a group of like-minded people, I established Humanities 21, and since then our corporate lecture series has been an important part of our advocacy. The lecture series connects academics with businesses, resulting in lateral and engaging discussions of key professional development themes. The lecture series also demonstrates that a humanities education is an excellent foundation for any career.
“The lecture series connects academics with businesses, resulting in lateral and engaging discussions of key professional development themes.”
Our school programs are another important area of our advocacy – designed to extend passionate and bright students in areas of the humanities which interest them. We reward students with prizes and public speaking opportunities at our events, which in turn encourages them to see the value of the humanities in building a successful life after school.
“Our school programs…extend passionate and bright students in areas of the humanities which interest them.”
Our public events facilitate a connection with our broader community, and engage with topical themes that incite interest and encourage discussion about current issues. In panel discussions and debates we bring together speakers from a range of careers, to discuss these issues in their philosophical, social, political and economic contexts.
“Our public events facilitate a connection with our broader community, and engage with topical themes that incite interest and encourage discussion about current issues.”
Our mission at Humanities 21 is to inspire students, educate business, and engage with the broader community in ways that encourage an increased respect for the humanities. The vision the Humanities 21 committee strives towards is a society in which the humanities are perceived as a valuable form of education, a sound foundation for a successful career, and a key contributor to a meaningful life.’
If you also believe the humanities are an important contributor to a meaningful life, we encourage you to become a Humanities 21 member. As a not-for-profit organisation we do depend on the support of our members in order to continue our advocacy efforts.
Our memberships are inexpensive, with $40 annual memberships for concessions, $60 for individuals and $110 for duos.
To find out more and sign up, visit Become a Member.
As a member, you’ll receive discounted tickets to all our events and also know you’re part of the change we’re making to policy makers, educators, students, business people, and individuals who value being well-rounded, well-informed citizens.