About the Council: Overview

About the Council for the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

Supporting more than 85 member organisations in their relationships with policy makers and the broader community, the Council is an important network for knowledge and skills. Providing a strong voice, the Council helps members to contribute to public debate through programs for knowledge exchange and media awareness.

Established in 2004, the Council for the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences promotes and provides advocacy services for the humanities, arts and social sciences. The Council serves as a coordinating forum for teachers, researchers, professionals and practitioners in the sector.

Constitution adopted on 27 October 2009 - Amended at AGM 23 March 2011 (PDF 143 kB)

Member organisations

Council members engage in research and professional practice in disciplines from education, history, languages and philosophy, to demography, journalism, geography and sociology. Leading universities, discipline associations, peak bodies and collecting institutions are represented in the Council's membership body. The performing and visual arts areas are well represented through art form groups and research and training institutions, as are media arts and design and publishing.

Members are specialists in the knowledge and skills of their disciplines and professions, and are major advocates and networks for their fields. The Council's membership reflects an emerging focus on trans-disciplinary research and collaboration, with its members engaged in new projects tackling the major challenges before Australia in partnership with traditional science areas and industry groups

Affiliate organisations
ACHRC logo

The Australasian Consortium of Humanities Research Centres (ACHRC) is a network for groups engaged in Humanities-based research. It aims to connect Humanities researchers and centres, both within the Australasian region and internationally, and to promote relationships with cultural institutions and sector representative bodies in the wider community. It provides a virtual and physical hub for information about research opportunities and events, and seeks to strengthen the public profile of research in the Humanities.

Advocacy support

Drawing on the research and expertise of member organisations, the Council makes policy submissions and recommendations to key inquiries and policy reviews where coordinating policy advice and data creates a stronger evidence base.

The Council has published papers on policy issues, including the demographic outlook for the academic work force in Australia; arts and innovation; and collaboration with science and technology.


Through its workshops, the annual HASS on the Hill meetings in Canberra at Parliament House, and its newsletters and publications, the Council works to boost the profile of its members' research, exhibitions, events and collections. It aims to support researchers and practitioners in HASS disciplines and organisations contribute to public debate.

In partnership with key member organisations, the Council is actively involved in discussions and consultations on changes to research policy affecting the HASS sector and is active in facilitating linkages between smaller practitioner organisations and research in universities and the collecting institutions.


The Council is a non-profit association registered in the ACT and is overseen by a ten-member Board which is elected from nominations by member organisations at the Annual General Meeting. The Council Board has a mix of academic and industry members who represent a broad spectrum from across the humanities, arts and social sciences sector.

The Council operates with respect for its membership and policy makers; aims to communicate in a clear and open way; and cultivates creative, rigorous thinking.

Strategic Plan

In its Strategic Plan the Council has set six goals to guide strategic direction and detailed planning to 2012. The communications program and support for knowledge transfer are integral to meeting the goals. In 2010 the Council Board is moving to build new platforms for knowledge transfer and to ensure the sustainability of the organisation.

What is HASS?

The humanities, arts and social sciences (HASS) are critically important to Australia. They play a key role in the national innovation system and underpin the development of our society, culture and individual identity. The Council for the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences works towards greater recognition of people, projects and organisations working in the sector and to strengthen their capacity to contribute.

A 2008 report on the sector by the London School of Economics for the British Academy identifies a broad group of academic disciplines dedicated to the study of society, the economy, business, governance, history and culture. Researchers are also identifying the emergence of new disciplines to tackle some of the major challenges facing contemporary society and cross over with the traditional science areas.

A small sample of these disciplines indicates the breadth and importance of the HASS disciplines. In the humanities these include philosophy languages, literature studies and history, and anthropology. In the social sciences, they include economics, sociology, education, social policy social work and demography. Emerging areas of cross over include law, linguistics and cultural studies and geography, while the creative arts areas cross into design, architecture and landscape architecture.

Together these disciplines drive activity in major organisations and institutions across Australian society, and are major contributors to prosperity and productivity growth. Research, design and development are dependent on their new knowledge. Publishers, and museums and galleries are major organisations using HASS skills and knowledge to reach out to Australian communities, while in our universities and research institutions there is a rich tradition of academic study which give students and graduates knowledge to take a role as citizens and community members.

To learn more about these disciplines and their impact:


DIISR logo

The Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research provides funding to support the Council's promotion, coordination and advocacy in the HASS sector, including the HASS On The Hill event.


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