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Left: Girl Reading, by Franz Eybl. Oil on canvas, 1850. Right: Woman Reading, by Andrew Stevovich. Oil painting, 2011. Flickr, Plum Leaves; Wiki Commons, Andr.V.S.

What is a book in the digital age?

As a professional book designer, I’ve spent a decade observing electronic books from a cagey distance. A couple of years ago, I reluctantly recognised the need to engage with these alien book forms, both…
Let’s be honest: the sofa’s often better than the cinema. AAP/HBO

Youth vs truth: how box sets beat the box office

The northern summer of 2013 was a bad one for Hollywood. After Earth, The Lone Ranger, White House Down, World War Z and Pacific Rim were among the million-dollar turkeys. And you may have noticed the…
An unprecedented 22% of Australians have declared themselves to be of “no religion”. Jetuma

Don’t stop believing: religion has a place in Australia’s future

Recently the Prime Minister called upon the Labor Party to “repent” of its introduction of the carbon tax. His comments were ridiculed by some critics, not for the substance of what he said, but for the…
RMIT Graduate Sharlee Young’s Collection, Melbourne Spring Fashion Week 2012. Monty Coles

Global shift: Australian fashion’s coming of age

Fifty years ago, the notion of Australian fashion may have been regarded as an oxymoron. This is not a critique of Australians’ capacity to be intrinsically stylish, as there is plenty of evidence to reflect…
Public funding should promote unintended consequences. Abode of Chaos

You’ve got $7 billion – so how will you fund the arts?

Last year the Australian Bureau of Statistics did the maths – government spends about A$7 billion annually in Australia on arts and culture. The exact dollar figure varies depending on what we count, but…
Architects such as Glenn Murcutt tailor their designs to the Australian landscape. Anthony Browell/AAP Image

Building a nation: the state of play in Australian architecture

The Sydney Opera House celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. This Australian icon was, of course, designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, as a result of an international design competition held at…
With the right policy levers, Australia’s next big boom could be creative by design. Sebastiaan ter Burg

The creative economy could fuel Australia’s next boom

Australia is richly blessed with an abundance of resources which, along with robust legal, business and political infrastructure, has allowed it to pull through tough times on several occasions. As we…
Of course, there is no singular Indigenous Australia. Angelo Soulas/AAP

What is Indigenous Australia in 2013?

What is Indigenous Australia in 2013? To begin to answer this question, I believe it is important to proceed with a few key caveats: 1) There is no singular Indigenous Australia. Thus, anything written…
Matthew Hutchinson

Go on then … what are the creative industries?

Creativity is the X factor of modern industry. When it slumps, our economy splutters. Creativity is the source of the unprecedented wealth of the last two centuries. Yet we still understand very little…
Australia does not lack art, artists or audiences, but …

Does Australia ‘get’ culture?

Why doesn’t Australia get culture? What is it about culture that defeats our perception to the point where, like an unwelcome magic trick, it vanishes as an object of collective concern? For a country…
The dreaming spires of universities must evolve to survive. allaboutuni/flickr

The modern university must reinvent itself to survive

Foundation Essay – In 1529 the great monasteries of England and the 400 smaller establishments had never looked so good. They were doubly protected, by universal belief and by their many material connections…
Accidental discoveries during academic research have changed the world. AAP/Leon Neal

Accidental discovery and the importance of communication

Foundation essay – “If we knew what it was we were doing, it wouldn’t be called research, would it?” While slightly flippant, this comment by Albert Einstein captures the unpredictability of research beautifully…
Too much focus on balance doesn’t present the true picture. AAP

When the science is so clear, why is the argument so clouded?

While the evidence for climate change continues to strengthen, public acceptance of the science keeps declining. Closing the gap could be a question of better communication. At the commencement of the…
Why is science so hard to communicate? Andrew Huff/Flickr

A better formula for science communication

Foundation Essay – Getting certain points across can be difficult. And yet democracies don’t function properly in the absence of broad, public discussion based on well-sourced information. Especially when…
Universities need to participate in a wider dialogue. Tulane Public Relations

Better connecting the university to the public debate

Foundation Essay – A democracy needs conversations that range broadly, find space for many voices, accept new information, explore unexpected ideas, allow people to reach a judgement about the issues that…
Barren: the public is being let down on climate change reporting.

The science of reporting climate change

Foundation Essay – In his recent statements on the poor state of the Australian debate on global warming (meaning discussion of its causes, and how to deal with it in policy terms) Professor Ross Garnaut…
The purpose of universities is to generate knowledge. Don Pugh Flickr

What’s the point of universities? It’s the ideas, stupid

Foundation Essay – Universities are at permanent risk of getting a bad rap.. They are too remote, too elitist, too unworldly, too expensive (especially in the US). They are ‘irrelevant’ to the needs and…

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