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Is this the final nail in the Humanities coffin at ANU?

By johnboy - 29 July 2013 12

This in from a reader who wishes to be anonymous:

Following the major restructure of the ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences in 2010, a final move to disestablish what was left of the humanities has been proposed. Brought to you by the same team that conducted the “major curriculum change” of the School of Music, the proposed plan states that it aims to:

“1. Establish a School of Languages and Literature, bringing together the current School of Language Studies and the School of Cultural Inquiry, excluding Art History. The School of Cultural Inquiry will be disestablished.
2. Strengthen Art History and Art Theory through the integration of Art History from the School of Cultural Inquiry into the School of Art.
3. Disestablish IHuG [the Interdisciplinary Humanities Group] through the co-location of research centres wherever possible with AOUs to provide a strong sustainable base and enhance research capacity within the AOU, while recognising and preserving the governance and financial structure of the centres to ensure that they play an important interdisciplinary role across RSHA,the College and the University.
4. Make more visible the emerging strength in Heritage and Museum Studies and locate it within the School of Archaeology and Anthropology which would be renamed the School of Archaeology, Anthropology, Heritage and Museum Studies.”

The proposal also concedes that:
“It is foreseeable that the impact of this proposal will involve:
• Disestablishment of leadership positions but no loss of academic staffing;
• A change to work practices with professional staff being relocated to support the new organisation structure and current separate academic groups interacting more closely within larger organisational units;
• Possible impact on conditions, including change that would be likely to lead to changed responsibility levels.”

The proposal can be viewed in full here: http://rsha.anu.edu.au/sites/default/files/pdfs/2013/rsha-restructure-change-management-proposal-2013.pdf

Or see http://rsha.anu.edu.au/rsha-engagement/rsha-change-proposal for more information.

While the restructure might make “sense” relative to the drastic changes already made to the Humanities at ANU (such as eliminating the Drama and Film Studies majors), the move threatens the viability of many other majors such as Gender Studies continuing in the future as they become subsumed under different subject areas. As stated, the changes also entail a foreseeable impact on staff in terms of responsibility, workload and ability to deliver courses in vastly different disciplines.

If you are concerned about the proposal, submissions are due to the Project Team by 5pm this Friday 2nd August 2013 at rshastudentconsult@anu.edu.au

What’s Your opinion?


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12 Responses to
Is this the final nail in the Humanities coffin at ANU?
Masquara 4:20 pm 30 Jul 13

Testfest said :

“…the move threatens the viability of many other majors such as Gender Studies continuing in the future…”

Hmm… well, there’s some worthwhile areas of study that fall under the Humanities umbrella, but I’m not sure that Gender Studies is the best example of that.

Ummmm I think that was the point!

Testfest 2:01 pm 30 Jul 13

“…the move threatens the viability of many other majors such as Gender Studies continuing in the future…”

Hmm… well, there’s some worthwhile areas of study that fall under the Humanities umbrella, but I’m not sure that Gender Studies is the best example of that.

qedbynature 1:52 pm 30 Jul 13

The proposed changes http://goo.gl/L2RuQ5

The wider debate about the future of humanities in any university, let alone the ANU is usually framed by economics despite the obvious contradiction with the notion of study in the humanities.

At least art can be sold or nailed up on the VC’s office walls…

Masquara 12:24 pm 30 Jul 13

Museums area sacked a brilliant convenor and installed a UC-esque corporate drone in their place. Glad I had already graduated …

c_c™ 9:51 am 30 Jul 13

Mr Evil said :

Personally, I’d be more concerned with what’s happening within the sociology, politics and international relations area of the college – as a number of academic staff have recently either left or have announced their intention to leave by the end of this year.

Yep, now that’s a genuine concern. New managers have been trying hard for quite some time now to turf out people who they see as too old or too incompatible with whatever the new paradigms are.

As for the OP, you don’t do yourself any favours crying wolf (or in this case that it’s ‘the final move’ of ending the humanities. Nor does copying and pasting a long list of dot points most won’t quickly comprehend or even bother to read.

Stick to the facts, state succinctly what the proposal generally entails and what the result will be to learning and research outcomes.

Also substantiate claims, you may feel getting rid of a film studies major was ‘drastic’, but I know of a lot of people who did that major simply because it was a total cruise. A waste of space and resources frankly and something the second tiers Unis can fill the gap for, just as for some languages, UC is advising people go to ANU.

kyhigh 9:23 am 30 Jul 13

I agree with c_c –> us arts students at ANU should probably leave now while the prospects are much better in hospitality than academia

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=atNUl99QHfM

tikbalang 9:18 am 30 Jul 13

Erg0 said :

tikbalang said :

c_c has plainly never been to university.

New here, are you?

I can only go by the evidence of my eyes…

Erg0 9:13 am 30 Jul 13

tikbalang said :

c_c has plainly never been to university.

New here, are you?

tikbalang 8:02 am 30 Jul 13

c_c has plainly never been to university. Which is fine, it’s not for everyone. Best not to talk about what you don’t know. Anyway the ANU has been steadily eroding its arts/humanities offerings for years. Their MO is to aggregate smaller schools into clusters and then when academics retire, they don’t re-fill the positions. So three schools of ten will become one school of thirty which they will let degrade into one school of twenty. In this way they can get rid of “underperforming” disciplines because as the schools’ capacity degrades, they can claim there are less students taking the schools’ courses. It’s part of their ANU by 2020 plan, which involves moving away from undergraduate offerings to more lucrative postgraduate courses. If you want my opinion the arts/humanities are just a beach head – this kind of thing will be rolled out in other schools too, in time. The ANU is up front about its desire to get rid of older academics too – IIRC recently all academics over 55 got sent a letter “inviting” them to retire. Ian Chubb was an old bastard and Young is plainly a robot – it’s a well known fact that he can’t make eye contact with humans.

Mr Evil 7:53 am 30 Jul 13

Personally, I’d be more concerned with what’s happening within the sociology, politics and international relations area of the college – as a number of academic staff have recently either left or have announced their intention to leave by the end of this year.

Ben_Dover 5:50 am 30 Jul 13

c_c™ said :

Sounds like we got a paranoid nutter who would probably do better well away from a university campus flipping burgers.

I’ve never seen a “university campus flipping burgers”, that’s some trick…

c_c™ 10:49 pm 29 Jul 13

“a final move to disestablish what was left of the humanities has been proposed”

Sounds like we got a paranoid nutter who would probably do better well away from a university campus flipping burgers. Overstatement much!

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