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Seven years after he began his science degree at Sydney University, 26-year-old Alexander Pereira is heading to Stanford University for postgraduate studies in philosophy. It’s a journey across the disciplines he didn’t anticipate back in 2014 but one that demonstrates the potential for the renewal rather than the ‘death’ of the Humanities around the globe.

This first appeared in The Australian on June 21, 2021 and is republished courtesy of The Australian.

International collaboration is fundamental to humanities research. It provides the foundation for informed engagement in areas such as policy, trade, and diplomacy, and ensures that we can address challenges that cross national borders, such as climate change, ageing populations, cybersecurity, and systemic inequality.

Today, on the 52nd anniversary of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, we are introducing a new monthly feature in which we reconnect with many of our past Presidents.

It’s a chance to cast our minds back, learn lessons from the past; weigh up the current state of the humanities; and consider how, as a collective, we can address some of the biggest challenges of the future.

Our first Past-Presidents’ Perspective is with leading Australian musicologist Emeritus Professor Malcolm Gillies AM FAHA, who was President of the Academy from 1998-2001.

In Session 2 ‘Continuous & Diverse: A  Long History of Many Cultures’ from our 2020 Academy Symposium, artist Abdul-Rahman Abdullah, designer and film producer Alison Page, artist Michel Tuffery, and filmmaker Lynette Wallworth add their voices to this discussion and draw on examples from their own artistic practice to demonstrate how we can begin to construct a more inclusive story of our nation – and all its people – through the arts: a story that doesn’t simply insist upon what we have known, but that unearths our unknowing and puts us all in conversation with one another, to ‘share the long held stories.’

Nineteenth-century art forms. 20th-century business models. 21st-century people. In a world now defined by ever-increasing digital capability and possibility, and amidst a pandemic that has highlighted our need for arts and culture in our daily lives,  does this disconnect continue to serve us, or is it time to rethink how we create, consume and classify the arts and its many forms?

We spoke with Professor Nick Evans, an Australian linguist and leading expert on endangered languages based at the Australian National University, about the many challenges facing Indigenous Australians during the 2020 coronavirus health emergency. While many of these challenges began to be understood and addressed last year at the height of the crisis, it is essential that we keep them firmly in view and continue to build our capacity to communicate well-tuned messages about health now and into the future.

Acknowledgement of Country

The Australian Academy of the Humanities recognises Australia’s First Nations Peoples as the traditional owners and custodians of this land, and their continuous connection to country, community and culture.