6 October 2010

One of Australia’s leading scholars will discuss how the humanities are fighting for survival at a UQ public lecture next week.

Professor Graeme Turner will explore the looming crisis for humanities disciplines as they struggle to maintain their existence in the Australian university system, on Thursday, October 14.

The Director of UQ’s Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies, Professor Turner is a Fellow and former President of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and only the second humanities scholar to sit on the Prime Minister's Science, Engineering and Innovation Council.

He warns that Australia’s capacities in the humanities have been alarmingly diminished by a combination of universities’ funding strategies, the increasing focus on vocational outcomes, and short term market trends wiping out entire areas of expertise.

“Over the past two decades we have seen successive governments downgrade the value and importance of higher education and it has led to an alarming narrowing of the popular conception of the function of higher education across Australia,” Professor Turner said.

“While there are certainly encouraging signs from the current government, my fear is that the humanities are no longer in a sufficiently robust state to enable them to respond properly to these new opportunities.”

For the lecture Professor Turner will draw on many years of working between the university sector, government bodies and other peak organisations.

“In the past, many research funding programs and national research strategies have excluded the participation of the humanities, and over time this has influenced university behaviour. Within many of our universities today, the future for a humanities education is looking increasingly vulnerable as the broader function of education seems no longer to be recognised,” he said.

The Humanities and the University in Australia will be presented at 5.30pm on October 14 in the Social Sciences and Humanities Library Conference Room, Level 1 Duhig Building, St Lucia.

Members of the public are invited to attend this free event, after which light refreshments will be served.

Media: Rebecca Ralph (07 3346 7407, r.ralph@uq.edu.au)