Former University of Canberra (UC) student Wil Anderson remembers meeting Triple J breakfast co-hosts Mikey Robins and Helen Razer during O Week in the early 1990s. Little did he know what it would lead to.
“At that moment sitting in the bar I was actually watching the job I would end up doing for five years, and realisitically, a job that contributed to setting up the rest of the things that I got to do,” Wil tells Region Media ahead of his return to his old stomping ground where he will host ‘Future Bright’ which will ask the question ‘Is our future bright?’
Undoubtedly for the host of ABC’s Gruen and the brains behind the podcast Wilosophy where he asks smart people stupid questions, the answer is yes.
The event at The Street Theatre on 6 November is sold-out, but will also be live-streamed on the UC Facebook page from 7:30 pm.
The expert panel includes CEO of The Mill House Social Enterprise Accelerator and UC strategist Cindy Mitchell; Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Design and pop culture aficionado Professor Jason Bainbridge; UC Head of the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Public Health and aged care researcher Professor Karen Strickland; and Clinical Associate Professor and co-director of the ACT Affiliated Schools Program Kerrie Heath.
Wil completed a Bachelor of Arts in Communications at UC in 1995 and graduated top of his class. He went on to work at The Australian Financial Review before dropping the serious words about finance to become a comedian.
“So many of the things that I learnt at university have gone on to be things that have been crucial in my career, and Gruen is probably the best example,” he says on a more serious note of reflection.
“Gruen is in part a comedy show, but it is also very much a journalistic show through the way we construct it. So those skillsets that I picked up at university were essential even though I didn’t really use my degree.
“When the UC asked me back for this forum, I joked and asked why they were getting me back. I did a degree there and then chucked it away to tell dick jokes to strangers for a living.
“But you never know what you’re learning at university that’s going to be valuable until well after. I’ve used my degree in a lot in different ways, so having the opportunity to come back and reflect on that will probably change my mind on my time at UC.”
Anderson says universities have a vital role to play in helping shape people’s opinions on topics such as advertising, politics and the current media landscape.
“There is a lot of disinformation and fake news, for want of a better term, so all of that makes it harder to distinguish what is the truth,” Wil says.
“It’s had disastrous consequences through people’s lack of trust in expertise and has led to the rise of people like Donald Trump, the rise of the anti-vaccination movement, conspiracy theories around COVID and our refusal to act on climate change.”
UC’s vice-president of relations and strategy Belinda Robinson said the forum is a fitting event as the university celebrates 30 years since its transformation from the Canberra College of Advanced Education to the University of Canberra.
“Future Bright is a free online public event that encapsulates our dynamic, young university and our city — smart, engaging, community-focused, fun and progressive – and celebrates our past, present and future,” Ms Robinson said.
“The University of Canberra was established to specifically serve the needs of the ACT and surrounding regions for higher education and it has delivered on its promise to our unique city for the past 30 years.
“And now we look to the future of our city and the surrounding region in the context of the extraordinary events of 2020, and how we can continue to be intertwined in the fabric of Canberra to provide an incubation for innovation, question the status quo and provide progressive solutions for our future.”
You can follow the live stream of the event on Facebook.