CHASS Newsletter #38

Forging new connections

There is a pressing need for investment in networks to support better communications of humanities, arts and social sciences research and knowledge.

The Australian government’s launch of Inspiring Australia, its new science communications strategy, opens the way for investment in these networks. CHASS is developing programs to meet the strategy’s goals of an active community and industry engagement with knowledge based research and discovery in Australia.

CHASS President, Professor Linda Rosenman, welcomed Inspiring Australia’s recognition of the humanities, arts and social science discipline’s contribution to problem-solving for Australia. The strategy further recognises that the social sciences and humanities are critical to the interface between science and society.

CHASS is preparing a proposal to bring together industry, researchers and policy makers in a national forum for the humanities, arts and social sciences. At the heart of the forum will be meetings of learned societies and discipline groups – many of them members of CHASS – which could debate and discuss their specific issues and research, but also link to umbrella events and speeches on major issues and challenges before Australia. We will take this proposal to government and suggest it becomes one of the major initiatives in the new strategy, to stand alongside long-running high profile events such as the national science festival.

The Council also sees value in building new connections for our core cultural organisations and practitioners through a national cultural policy.

CHASS’s submission to the recent consultation on a national cultural policy argues for a focus on investment in innovation, as artists and practitioners experiment with new technologies and creative teams, and new ways of creating participation in the arts.

However, it also argues for a second focus for government policy development, in supporting and encouraging connections between the arts and broader areas of civic culture, industry and social policy.

The national cultural policy should connect arts-based innovation and experience to audiences, investors and education institutions and, through them, to broader areas of community and industry using cultural events and festivals, broadband programs and industry innovation programs. Australia has a rich resource in creative talent and knowledge, developed over 50 years of commitment to investment in the creative arts, and we need to build these connections so that Australians can understand, enjoy and use this knowledge.

Museums Australia and the Australian National Data Service this week hosted a conference to discuss a proposal to link digitised data in the collecting institutions with researchers. The potential benefit of bridging cultural heritage with researchers is huge, allowing transdisciplinary inquiry, and access to databases of information about Australia and its region.

Many of the Museums and galleries in Australia are already engaged in projects which open up their collections, including the National Library through its newspaper digitisation and Trove project, the Australian National Maritime Museum, and Museum Victoria. CHASS and other peak bodies in HASS will work to identify some of these early projects and researchers, and support the collecting institutions in creating database management and networking tools needed to realise the opportunities offered in forging these new connections.

Helen O’Neil
Executive Director
Council for the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
18 February 2010

Commentary and opinion

This year CHASS will publish articles, commentary and opinion pieces online and link to some commentary on other sites.

We hope to stimulate discussion and debate on HASS projects and issues from a range of viewpoints. We urge you to suggest writers and articles for future publication or links.

The first of these articles is Reframing the cultural policy debate by Ben Eltham
National Cultural Policy submission

The National Cultural Policy consultation is a major opportunity to reform and renew Australia’s commitment to the arts, its creative industries and the broader areas of cultural life and value in innovation and heritage and social cohesion.

In preparing its submission CHASS sought input from more than 80 member organisations

ERA update

The Australian Research Council recently briefed CHASS about the 2009 trial of the ERA process in the humanities and creative arts, and the changes which have been made for ERA 2010 in light of the trial experience.

A strategic breakthrough

Media release: The Council for the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences believes the new science communications strategy, ‘Inspiring Australia’ opens the way for a strong and open relationship between science and society, says CHASS President, Professor Linda Rosenman.

HASS at a glance

Summit of Councils of Deans

The Australasian Council of Deans of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (DASSH) have initiated a summit of the Councils of Deans and Directors of Australian universities.

Australian Curriculum consultation

The draft Australian Curriculum for english, mathematics, science and history (K-10) will be available for consultation from late this month to the end of May 2010.


A Learning and Teaching Academic Standards Forum, held in Melbourne this month, was attendedby over 100 leaders from the sector.

National Cultural Policy
The National Cultural Policy consultation is now closed and 110 submissions have been posted to the government website.

Web 2.0

The UK government is opening up data for reuse. The site uses a search engine to offer several ways of finding the data you want.

Reports, lectures and news …