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Philip Ruddock attracted the ire of human rights activists for his actions as a minister in the Howard government. AAP/Dean Lewins

Ruddock as human rights envoy? Don’t scoff too soon

As Australia’s special envoy for human rights, Philip Ruddock will have the chance to change the world instead of listening to other people make suggestions about how it might be done.
The world’s driest areas are tipped to get even drier, with potentially worrying implications for soil productivity.

If the world’s soils keep drying out that’s bad news for microbes (and people)

The world's 'drylands' – already home to 38% of the world's people – are set to dry out even more. And that could harm the soil microbes that keep soils healthy and help crops to grow.
Some voters in New South Wales may be forced to vote in a different electorate at the next federal election following a recent redistribution. AAP/Paul Miller

Explainer: how do seat redistributions work?

Any redistribution of electoral boundaries may significantly impact how parties are represented in the parliament. But how does Australia’s system of changing seat boundaries actually work?
A ‘flat-Earth’ map drawn by Orlando Ferguson in 1893. This rendering of a flat Earth still gets some truck today. Wikimedia/Orlando Ferguson

Flat wrong: the misunderstood history of flat Earth theories

We often hear that most people throughout history believed the world was flat. But that's not entirely true.
In All the Sex I’ve Ever Had six Sydneysiders over 60 talk frankly about love, life and everything in between. Prudence Upton

Sydney Festival review: All the Sex I’ve Ever Had

There is something a little anxiety-inducing about knowingly walking into a closed theatre in which we will have no choice but to listen to the over-60s talk about their sex lives.
Something seems to be missing in the Australian art world. French Street theatre company performing at the Santiago a Mil International Theatre Festival - Ivan Alvarado/Reuters

Australia’s arts community has a big diversity problem – that’s our loss

Diversity is a vital part of a thriving art sector, yet only 8% of professional Australian artists come from a non-English speaking background. How can we beat "diversity fatigue"?
The national flower of Zimbabwe, the Glory Lily, is also found in Queensland where it’s more famously known as a noxious weed that’s highly poisonous to humans. JohnSkewes/Flickr

Little shop of horrors: the Australian plants that can kill you

It's not just Australia's animals that can be deadly, there are plenty of dangerous plants too.
Cross-bench Senator Nick Xenophon wants the law to change to protect gift card holders when companies collapse. Gemma Najem/AAP

Xenophon is right to call for law reform on gift cards

It's not good to make law changes as a knee-jerk reaction, but in the case of insolvency and gift cards, it's time.
Cricketer Chris Gayle’s comments to journalist Mel McLaughlin in a mid-game interview left her reportedly ‘embarrassed, angry and upset’. Network Ten

The game is changing, baby: Chris Gayle and sexism in cricket

As Chris Gayle has so amply demonstrated, there is still considerable resistance to the full integration of women into sport culture – and not least in the sports media.
Raising a child bilingually does not cause language learning difficulties. www.shutterstock.com

Debunking common myths about raising bilingual children

Parents shouldn't be concerned if their bilingual child is slower to develop their vocabularly, because in most cases this is just a temporary lag.
Given Brazil’s chaotic sociopolitical situation, the legacy the 2016 Olympic Games will leave remains unclear. Reuters/Sergio Moraes

Rio Olympics has its commandments – but what legacy will it leave?

Mega sports event promoters use the term 'legacy' extensively to justify the amount of – mostly public – money involved in the bid and execution of such events.
Yes, universities need to produce good scientists - but their graduates should be good citizens, too. Shutterstock

Why the time is right to create a new generation of ‘citizen scholars’

University protests in South Africa have showed that the countries students are hungry for real change. This desire can be harnessed to create a generation of "citizen scholars".

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