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Since its establishment in 1966, Flinders University has enjoyed a well-justified reputation for excellence in teaching and research. It has a long-standing commitment to enhancing educational opportunities for all and a proud record of community engagement.

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Theatre critics are a vital point of mediation between the stage and the audience – and they must do their job with care and discernment. Tom E. Lewis onstage at the Malthouse in 2014. AAP Image/Jeff Busby

Theatre reviewing is a responsible job – and it requires care

Theatre reviewing should be a public judgement pronounced with discernment. So what are we to make of those who do it badly?
A national theatre would help showcase Australian drama past and present, such as A Long Way Home, a collaboration between the Sydney Theatre Company and the Australian Defence Force. AAP Image/Sydney Theater Company/Lisa Tomasetti

A National Theatre of Australia is needed, and it’s time

Sociologist Max Weber once called politics “the slow boring of hard boards”. If he had been in the arts he might have added, “using your head as a drill”. Australia’s cultural agenda often feels like an…
David Pope’s cartoon posted on Twitter this morning. David Pope, Twitter.com

Cartoonists are defiant in their response to Charlie Hebdo attack

Cartoonists and satirists in “the West” are confronted with the risks of their expressive freedom today as a consequence of the assassinations at Charlie Hebdo in Paris. This is how illiberal authoritarians…
Many hands have helped author The Conversation’s first collaborative writing experiment.

An experiment in collaborative writing: day ten

We’re starting 2015 with an experiment in collaborative creative writing. What happens when you ask ten academics to write a story together? Taking our cue from the Exquisite Cadaver game played by Surrealist…
Not yet, but soon … we’re getting closer to sending people to Mars. Samantha T./Flickr

Near Earth and far away, it’s been an exciting year in space

It was an exciting year in space exploration, with mind-blowing triumphs and heart-breaking failures. On Earth, new rockets and spacecraft were tested by space agencies and commercial ventures. SpaceX…
Pyne will ask the states to implement various aspects of the Curriculum Review, probably including the narrowing of content. This is easier said than done. AAP

Paring back the curriculum would be a difficult and unnecessary task

This week the ministers of education for the states and territories will consider recommendations from federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne to revise the Australian curriculum. These recommendations…
The Labor Party that Bill Shorten leads is much more professionalised in its MP make-up than its earlier incarnations. AAP/Tracey Nearmy

Class warfare: would Shorten pass the test that Ed Miliband failed?

For British Labour leader Ed Miliband, defeat was yet again snatched from the jaws of victory. With the UK general election less than six months away, the recent Rochester and Strood by-election was a…
Pantomime is highly receptive to insane ideas provided they involve terrible jokes. Lukas Coch/AAP

This panto season: The Tale of Tony Rabbit or The Bad Bunny

There aren’t many things I miss about London. Waiting for the 22 bus on evenings of interplanetary cold: no. Inching down Oxford Street through crowds like rows of rugby prop forwards: not really. The…
A mechanism of independent scrutiny – such as a royal commission – remains the best way forward for alleviating defence abuse. AAP/Alan Porritt

Royal commission could shine an independent light on defence abuse

As I was showering five or six senior [others] attacked me – they turned off the lights, tied my hands behind my back and proceeded to do things to me. I was held down whilst one of them put his penis…
It can take more than three years for a public servant to climb back to their same level of pay after losing their job. Alex Proimos/Flickr

When public servants lose jobs it takes years to get back on track

By 2017, some 16,500 public servants will have lost their jobs, or have been shuffled into other positions within the public service, in the government’s ongoing drive for budget savings. The long-standing…
A nation that understands tragedy is one that respects limits. José María Pérez Nuñez

Tragedy is dead in Australia, long live laughter and weather reports

Tragedy is a peculiar thing. More than a style, different from genre, it cuts across art forms to carve out its own non-Euclidean aesthetic space. In the 4th century BCE Aristotle, in his Poetics, famously…
Space can be at a premium in cemeteries … and when it runs out, reusing old graves is an option. William Murphy/Flickr

Losing the plot: death is permanent, but your grave isn’t

Headstones at the Dudley Park cemetery in Payneham, South Australia, were recently bulldozed as part of the ongoing “recycling” of more than 400 graves. Some people were shocked to realise that gravesites…
If you don’t eat breakfast in the morning, it’s likely your kids won’t either. Kris Kesiak/Flickr

What happens when kids don’t eat breakfast?

How many times have we heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? There’s overwhelming evidence to suggest that it is, especially for children. Eating breakfast has been shown to improve…
Debate over WA Opera’s production of Carmen reveals some faultlines in corporate arts sponsorship. Photo: Opera Australia dress rehearsal. AAP Image/Dean Lewins

Carmen sense: when corporate sponsors go to the opera

One of the loopier actions of the eccentric Roman Emperor Elagabalus (inventor of the whoopee cushion) was an edict calling for all sex scenes in imperial theatres to be performed live and not simulated…
Sydney teenager Abdullah Elmir, who uses the alias Abu Khaled, speaking in an Islamic State video. ABC News

Foreign fighters need more than punishment – they also need rehab

New powers targeting foreign fighters and political “hate crimes” are set to be amended, Prime Minister Tony Abbott has confirmed in the hope of pushing the legislation through parliament next week. But…
So … how ‘bout it? Wendi Kelly/Flickr

Copulate to populate: ancient Scottish fish did it sideways

The intimate act of copulation is old – very old. In fact, it first evolved in ancient armoured placoderm fishes called antiarchs 385 million years ago. Fossils of the antiarch Microbrachius dicki show…
You need to know Shakespeare to judge it, not the other way round. orangechallenger

Measure for measure: the creative arts and the ‘impact agenda’

What use are Shakespeare’s plays? Back in the day, when my wife and I were dirt-poor arty types and lived in a hovel that declined the profligacy of doors, a two-volume hard-back edition of his collected…
Legislating for commercial surrogacy would enable Australia to overcome concerns about poorly regulated clinics overseas, such as this one in Thailand. EPA/Rungroj Yongrit

Commercial surrogacy in Australia: rethinking notions of ‘natural’

Often emphasised in discussions about children’s best interests is the idea that certain ways of having and raising children are “natural”. For example, this word appears frequently in reference to how…

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