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Socrates: not going gently.

Why I teach poetry and opera to medical students

Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light. I usually begin my end of life ethics lecture with one of Dylan Thomas' best-loved…
People will always want to know more about humanity: the past, the present and the future. Fee deregulation won’t change that. Flickr/Trey Ratcliffe

University fee deregulation will not hurt the humanities

As I travel around the nation, it pains me to find much wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth in the senior common rooms of our universities. The academic union reports that morale has never been lower…
Be familiar with your texts, whether novels, poems, histories, films or photographs. Top 5 tips to blitz your humanities exams. Shutterstock

HSC exam guide: top 5 tips on how to blitz your humanities exam

How do you best prepare for your exams in humanities subjects? As Dean of an Arts and Social Sciences faculty, I have been asked this question frequently when speaking to high school students over the…
One hundred years ago today, the library at Louvain was destroyed, a great loss for study in the humanities. Carl Guderian

A century after the torching of the Louvain library, what have we learned?

The Louvain library in Belgium and its priceless collection of medieval manuscripts were destroyed by German soldiers exactly 100 years ago today – and so it is timely to ponder the links between education…
Open access, as long as you’re a scientist. Shepherd Zhou/EPA

Humanities left behind as China embraces open access science

Two large Chinese funding bodies for scientific research are promoting so-called “open access” to research outcomes, according to an article in Nature. The Chinese Academy of Sciences and the National…
The academic humanities are too removed from reality. Frannyanne/Shutterstock

The solution to the humanities crisis must come from within

If we look at the major trends in higher education, the cause for what many are calling the “crisis of the humanities” becomes clear. The total number of UK students increased by 13.5% between 2003–04…
‘An unexamined life is not worthy of a human being’: Socrates. Shutterstock

Why study humanities?

This is a revised excerpt of a talk given to students at the Inaugural Australian Youth Humanities Forum, hosted at the University of Melbourne’s Parkville campus. After two days at this fine conference…
Jarman in the 60s, seeing things differently. Ray Dean/KCL

Time-travelling Derek Jarman is a beacon for the humanities

It is 20 years since the AIDS-related death of Derek Jarman, filmmaker, painter, author, gardener – and a crucial voice in gay politics in Britain. And when you look at his work today, two decades can…
Heads of Australian university English departments are set to advocate for their discipline. oldtasty

Why study English? In defence of a discipline

Last month, heads of English departments in universities across Australia formed a new peak body to advocate for the discipline of English. In part, the Australian University Heads of English (AUHE) group…
Resources are dwindling and the focus lies firmly on utility. @boetter

Arts and minds: the humanities are as vital as science

The Coalition’s pre-election condemnation of ARC research funding in certain areas of the arts as “ridiculous” and a waste of taxpayer dollars has left those of us working in this field feeling under pressure…
Coalition MP Jamie Briggs doesn’t want the ARC funding ‘interesting thought bubbles’. AAP/Alan Porritt

A farewell to arts: on philosophy, ARC funding and ‘waste’

The Coalition - among others - have been recently taking aim at the worth of certain Australian Research Council (ARC)-funded projects. Verbal jousting around the value of philosophy as a humanities discipline…
The humanities are in trouble - but what can be done about it? Humanities image from

Why the humanities are in crisis

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal titled Humanities Fall From Favour reveals a further escalation in the crisis affecting the humanities. Harvard University, “a standard-bearer of American letters…
Despite myths to the contrary, humanities graduates can enjoy their passions and look forward to job opportunities too. Student image from

Honing the mind and nurturing the soul: why the humanities are underrated

As a vice chancellor, I conducted many graduation ceremonies and welcomed scores of proud graduates to the fellowship of educated men and women. One regular feature of these ceremonies was a queue of students…
La Trobe’s Vice-Chancellor John Dewar defends his cuts to the humanities program. ABC News

Vice-Chancellor: La Trobe protestors abused freedom of speech

On Sunday, La Trobe University held its most successful Open Day ever, with more than 19,000 visitors. But the day was disrupted by student protests against recently announced changes to our Faculty of…
David Herbert Lawrence dived deep into the psychology of the Australian landscape in Kangaroo. Flickr/Duncan~

Writing the Australian bush: DH Lawrence’s wildflowers

Welcome to the first essay in our series on how the Australian landscape has been described in literature. We start with an internationally recognised D. H. Lawrence scholar, Christopher Pollnitz, writing…

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