So here we are at the end of this most extraordinary year. And while the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, what’s already clear is that it has had a significant and lasting impact on many aspects of our lives. In Australia, while 3% of the cases sadly proved fatal, we’ve been fortunate to avoid the very high rates of infection experienced in many other nations – but we’ve not escaped the fundamental changes it has brought to our society. Among other things, COVID-19 has reshaped how we work and study, the ways in which we socialize, how we interact and communicate with each other and how we think about personal freedom, privacy and data.
Understanding the scope and scale of these changes and addressing deep questions about the kind of society we now want to build will require precisely those skills that Humanities and Social Sciences graduates are well trained in: creativity, originality and initiative; analytical thinking and innovation; complex problem-solving; critical thinking and analysis; and emotional intelligence. In multicultural societies in an increasingly interconnected and globalising world, each of you, as graduates of the Faculty, has the flexibility of outlook and respect for difference that will enable you to shape for all of us a better, fairer and more sustainable world. The Humanities and Social Sciences will be key to our recovery and future success.
In the Faculty of Arts we’ve learnt a great deal this year about how we build community – how we use online platforms to create and develop a sense of connectedness and belonging for our stakeholders, how we foster in our students an Arts identity, and how we all interact and learn from each other. The year has had a major impact – and one, I suspect, that will last – on how we teach and how our students learn. Our most recent cohort of graduates made Faculty history by being the first cohort of students to study for the whole year with us online. It’s not been all plain sailing, but I hope these students will be able to look back on the academic year with pride and recognise the resilience, adaptability and ingenuity they have demonstrated.
You’ll see some examples of our research, engagement and community building in this edition of Articulation including a Community Conversation with Matt Absalom and Stefano De Pieri, an interview with Arts alum Julia Busuttil Nishimura of Ostro fame (and the chance to win a copy of her latest cookbook), and the ongoing impact of the Research Unit in Indigenous Language's 50 Words Project. I also speak to Professor Nikos Papastergiadis in the latest episode of my Dean's Forum series, discussing the role of diaspora and multiculturalism in our society. And finally, I'm also very excited to announce that I will be hosting our flagship community education series 10 Great Books for 2021, which for the very first time will be delivered entirely online.
I wish you and your loved ones a happy Christmas, however you choose to celebrate it, and I look forward to being back in touch in 2021.
Professor Russell Goulbourne
Dean of Arts