The Smithsonian Institution’s Provenance Research Initiative


This lecture will give an overview of the Smithsonian Institution’s Provenance Research Initiative. As a leader within the area of provenance research and theory, Jane Milosch (Director, Provenance Research Initiative) is an unparalleled example to curators and the wider museum sector. Provenance research provides a powerful lens through which to look at and learn about art, the history of collecting, and museums. The Smithsonian Provenance Research Initiative (SPRI) aims to expand its focus beyond the WWII era, to assist with current provenance issues, and to explore the implications of provenance research for art history and connoisseurship. We anchor the museum in its core missions: stewardship, education, and appreciation of all cultures.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015, 4:00 pm

Malaysia Theatre, Melbourne School of Design

Posted in Events, Historical and Philosophical Studies

Patriotism in War and Peace


Patriotism is most fervently displayed in times of war and impending war. Even during times of peace, patriotism is often expressed in commemorations of war and in ceremonies involving the military.

Is patriotism warlike? Does patriotism lust for violence? Or is there an achievable form of patriotism grounded in respect for humanity in general, and aimed at achieving peace?

This talk traces a series of philosophical arguments about the connection between patriotism and war, asking along the way what values and beliefs characterise patriotism, how patriotism is cultivated and used, and how patriotism is manifested in Australia. The great danger of patriotism is not so much its inherent connection with violence as its tendency to suppress reason – and hence its tendency to suppress a crucial form of protection against ill-considered and unjustified war.

Simon Keller is a Professor of Philosophy at Victoria University, Wellington.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015, 6:30 pm

Theatre A, Elisabeth Murdoch Building, Parkville

Posted in Events, Historical and Philosophical Studies

What’s the best way to reform Australian federal democracy?


The John Button Foundation and the Melbourne School of Government invite you to join Laureate Professor Emeritus Cheryl Saunders (AO) and ABC Radio National host, Mr Jonathan Green, as they discuss the challenges and opportunities presented by the current reform of Australia’s federal democracy.

Professor Saunders is Australia’s leading constitutional law expert and will argue that Australia’s basic democratic principles and practices provide the best guide to federalism reform.

Jonathan Green, the host of Sunday Extra on ABC Radio National, is the former editor of The Drum and his latest book is The Year My Politics Broke. Jonathan Green has worked in public radio, at Crikey, The Canberra Times, Melbourne Herald, Herald Sun, Sunday Herald and The Age.

This public event also provides the audience with the opportunity to actively engage in a discussion about the issues raised in the Commonwealth Government’s Green Paper on the reform of the Australian federation.

The discussion will commence at 6.30pm sharp with refreshments served afterwards in the historic Yarra Room, the former Council Chamber for the City of Melbourne.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015, 6:30 pm

Swanston Room, Melbourne Town Hall, 90-120 Swanston St, Melbourne

Posted in Events, Government

The State of Democracy in Indonesia: What lies ahead?


A defining dynamic of the first year of Joko Widodo's presidency has been his turbulent relations with entrenched elite interests. Widodo rose to the presidency from outside the established elite promising a new way of doing politics, thereby generating great hope among Indonesians for renewed democratic reform. In office, however, Widodo's need to appease his political backers has led him to make a string of political appointments that have disaffected his supporters. Established elites within his government have also openly defied him on various issues. This difficult start to his presidency has led some observers to question whether Widodo rose to Indonesia's top office too soon, prior to more far-reaching generational change in Indonesian politics.

This presentation will discuss the extent to which generational change is happening within Indonesia's political parties, and what this means both for President Widodo's government and for democracy in Indonesia more broadly.

Dr Philips J. Vermonte is the head of Politics and International Relations at CSIS, Indonesia's leading international policy thinktank.

Dr Philips Vermonte will draw on a CSIS's census of four of Indonesia's ten largest political parties, including the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P). This study interviewed thousands of provincial and district leaders in these parties, making it the largest census of Indonesia's political parties to date.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015, 5:45 pm

Yasuko Hiraoko Myer Room, Sidney Myer Asia Centre

Posted in Events, Government

Sino-Korean Film Connections: A History in Fragments


How should the study of Asia-Pacific screen culture change if we think transnationally? All too often, the study of transnational cinema is little more than a celebration of national soft power, as in some writing on the so-called Korean Wave phenomenon.

In this talk, Professor Chris Berry will examine Sino-Korean film connections as a counter-example, to discuss how we might map cinema from a transnational perspective. This lecture will argue that precisely because such a perspective runs across the disciplinary force of the nation-state and its borders, no linear history can be narrated. Instead, phenomena such as the significant Korean exile film community in Shanghai in the 1930s, the popularity of Korean melodramas in 1960s Taiwan, the import of North Korean films into the People’s Republic of China in the 1970s, the popularity of Hong Kong films in South Korea in the 1980s, and so on, impel us to think of Sino-Korean Film Connections as a history of fragments, structured by disjuncture.

Chris Berry is Professor of Film Studies at King’s College London. This is a Free Public Lecture organized by the Asian Cultural Research Network and funded by the University of Melbourne's International Research and Research Training Fund with associated Conference on 25 August, Masterclass on the 26 August and public keynote presentations on 26 and 27 August 26 and 27.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015, 5:30 pm

Yasuko Hiraoka Myer Room (YHM Room), Sidney Myer Asia Centre

Posted in Culture and Communication, Events

Empathy and Perspective: A Smithian Conception of Humanity


This talk explores Adam Smith's conception of empathy (roughly, what he called "sympathy"), and its connection, for him, with our understanding of our selves. This lecture will begin with a comparison between Smith and David Hume on sympathy, move to the role of perspective-taking in Smith's discussion of the subject, then look at the degree to which empathy, and perspective-taking, figure in our construction of our identity, for Smith. Fleischacker concludes by suggesting that Smith introduces a new conception of humanity by way of his view of empathy.

This lecture is supported by the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions.

Image source: Tor Ben Mayor's Film "Two Sided Story", produced by The Parents Circle Families Forum - Bereaved Palestinian and Israeli Families with The Israeli production company '2SHOT' and the Palestinian news agency 'Maan'.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015, 6:30 pm

Theatre A, Elisabeth Murdoch Building, University of Melbourne, Parkville

Posted in Events, Historical and Philosophical Studies

George Cruikshank: S.T. Gill and the Colonial World Conference


This lecture for the S.T. Gill and the Colonial World conference will be presented by the Australian institute of Art History at the University of Melbourne, in partnership with State Library of Victoria, Melbourne Rare Book Week and supported by the Gordon Darling Foundation.

Sheila O'Connell will deliver the keynote address of the conference as free of charge public lecture.

George Cruikshank lived a series of artistic lives. His first successes as a printmaker were satires on the war with Napoleon, he blossomed as the illustrator/collaborator of the early novels of Charles Dickens, and he spent his last years as a temperance campaigner using new technology to produce prints that could be published cheaply across the world, from London to New York to Sydney. This lecture will outline Cruikshank's development in the context of changes in British society and in the art world in particular.It will concentrate on the early part of his career when, barely out of his teens, Cruikshank became the most successful graphic satirist of the generation following James Gillray.

This was the great age of British visual satire and the best of Cruikshank's prints can still raise a laugh even when their subject matter is obscure to most modern audiences. But he always worked under commercial pressure and these early caricatures sometimes attack one side of the political divide and sometimes the other – thus incidentally allowing us access to a range of attitudes to the events of the turbulent wartime and post-war years. Cruikshank's long career spanned a period of enormous change. His prints demonstrate how the nineteenth century saw the British print market change its focus from the elite to the mass market as technology made production cheaper, education and increasing literacy widened the interests of the population as a whole, and the effects of industrialisation and expanding urbanisation called for social reform.

Friday, 17 July 2015, 6:30 pm

Theatre A, Elisabeth Murdoch Building, University of Melbourne, Parkville

Posted in Events, Historical and Philosophical Studies

Peacemaking and peacekeeping through the United Nations


United Nations' peacekeepers are on the frontline of efforts to protect civilians from mass violence in places such as Mali, CAR, South Sudan, Darfur and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In the DRC, the UN has gone on the offensive, authorising a ‘Force Intervention Brigade’ to prevent attacks on civilians by non-state armed groups. Here and elsewhere, peacekeepers are being directly targeted. More than 100 peacekeepers were killed in 2014 and more than 40 have been killed so far this year. Hundreds of thousands of civilians depend on peacekeepers for their safety. Today, more than 118,000 civilians in South Sudan receive shelter in UN compounds.

To date, however, there has been little systematic evaluation of the impact of use of force for civilian protection mandates on both immediate protection goals and the wider goals of peacekeeping. This presentation will offer some preliminary assessments about the impact of the implementation of mandates to use force to protect civilians, focusing on what works, what doesn't, and the factors which determine these outcomes in order to identify ways of improving performance in the future.

Thursday, 13 August 2015, 5:30 pm

Theatre 219, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, 234 Queensberry St, University of Melbourne, Parkville

Posted in Events, Government

2015 Arts Alumni Awards Announced

The Faculty of Arts is committed to recognising alumni who have achieved excellence in their chosen field, and who have made a considerable contribution to the Faculty, the University and their communities through their endeavours. In 2013 the Faculty of Arts established its annual Arts Alumni Awards program with the Rising Star Award for Young Alumni. Last year, three additional award categories were established: Contribution to the Faculty and University; Lifetime Achievement; and Leadership. Learn more about our illustrious previous winners here.

With over 70,000 alumni around the world, the Arts Alumni Awards raise awareness of our alumni and honours their outstanding contribution to society across a wide range of fields. From government, to business, the arts, media, community and not-for-profit organisations, we honour the legacy of the Faculty of Arts as we recognise the achievements of the following alumni.

Rising Star Award

The Rising Star Award for Young Alumni is awarded to alumni under 35 years of age who have demonstrated an outstanding level of professional achievement and community involvement since graduating from the University of Melbourne, and who have been recognised by colleagues and peers for their outstanding leadership and impact as a global citizen. In 2015 it is jointly awarded to Ms Stephanie Cousins and Mr Thomas Woodroofe.

Stephanie Cousins (BA 2005, BPPM(Hons) 2006, MPub&IntLaw 2014)

15090_0756Stephanie has demonstrated excellence in advocacy, campaigning, capacity building, not for profit leadership, program management, and is a recognized expert in humanitarian and human rights policy. Currently Amnesty International’s Government Relations Manager, Stephanie has previously lead Oxfam’s Public Policy & Advocacy team and counts among her many achievements input into Australia’s strategy, priorities and agenda on the UN Security Council and the establishment of the Pacific Small Arms Action Group. As Chair of the Pacific Small Arms Action Group, Stephanie oversaw the group’s contribution to the establishment of the legally binding international Arms Trade Treaty in 2013. She has trained Indonesian Defence Force personnel on the protection of civilians and prevention of sexual violence in emergencies, as well as working on secondment as a Humanitarian Policy Advisor with Oxfam International to support international advocacy and UN representation on humanitarian and human rights issues.

During her time at the University of Melbourne, Stephanie was rewarded for her academic excellence through receipt of a Melbourne Abroad Scholarship to Boston College (2003) and inclusion on Dean’s List for Academic Merit in Public Policy and Management (2006). Stephanie has since applied the knowledge gained from her time at University to the wider world, both professionally and through community volunteering and activism. In 2006, together with members of the Melbourne and Sydney Darfuri diaspora communities, Stephanie played a critical role in establishing the Darfur Australia Network (DAN), raising awareness in Australia about the Darfur crisis and advocating to the Australian Government to protect and assist those affected by the conflict. In addition to her fundraising activities and staff and volunteer recruitment, Stephanie was the inaugural President of the DAN (2006 – 2007), and served additional terms at the helm in 2009 and 2012. As a result of her tireless efforts in aide of the Darfur Australia Network, Stephanie is a well-respected and much loved figure in the Darfur community.

In 2007 Stephanie established and directed the first ever refugee camp simulation – Oxfam’s Refugee Realities. This program was designed to educate Australians about the experiences and rights of refugees around the world. Initially located in Melbourne, the simulation involved the coordination of over 200 volunteers, ran for four weeks, and was attended by more than 7,000 people. Partners such as the UNHCR, the Australian Red Cross and the Refugee Council of Australia partnered in the project, which was subsequently funded by AusAID and offered in Canberra and three additional regional locations in 2009 and 2010.

Stephanie has consistently demonstrated her academic ability and excellence, from academic awards earned at the University of Melbourne through to her more recent peer-reviewed publications. As a passionate campaigner for global justice, Stephanie is tireless in her attempts to make the world a fairer and more equal place.

Congratulations Stephanie Cousins, recipient of a 2015 Rising Star Award for Young Alumni.

Acceptance Statement:

“It’s a great honour to receive this award! I started my Arts degree with a passion for art history, ended it with a passion for politics and social justice – and sampled many genres in between. That’s the genius of an Arts degree, particularly at a place like Melbourne Uni where you can get the breadth and depth you need to figure out your path.

I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find my way from Melbourne Uni to some inspiring organisations like Oxfam Australia and Amnesty International. So far it’s been a career path of discovery rather than design, sparked by an internship at Oxfam and a general realisation that some institutions will actually pay you to go disrupt the status quo for good (generally only after a healthy dose of volunteering!). It’s opened my world and taken me to some amazing places like Kenya and Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. I’ve met some incredible people – people who have overcome almost incomprehensible adversity and yet dedicate their lives to a more compassionate and just world.

Now in my role as Government Relations Manager at Amnesty I meet with politicians from all sides to argue the case for human rights at home and abroad. Sometimes it feels like change is appallingly slow, or even regressing – whether it be Australia’s policies towards asylum seekers, the treatment of Indigenous Peoples or Australia’s incredible shrinking aid program. But every setback is a reminder of how important it is for Australia to have a thriving human rights movement. That’s what I want to be part of, and it’s wonderful to be recognised for doing the work I love.

Many thanks!”




Thomas Woodroofe (MIR 2012)

Thom Woodroofe

Having founded Left Right Think-Tank in 2009 (for which he was recognised as the Young Victorian of the Year), Thom’s first significant foray into international affairs resulted from the opportunity to study overseas in the US, Europe and Asia as part of his undergraduate arts degree. During this period, Thom interned with the then-US Congressional Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the then-Californian Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. As one of the youngest people ever to be invited to join the prestigious Australian American Leadership Dialogue, it was during his time living and studying abroad that Thom first turned his eye to opinion writing. Today his name is attributed to more than 100 published pieces ranging from a profile piece on Kevin Rudd (which was the most read contributing piece in Fairfax that year), to a large number of opinion contributions on Australian foreign policy, becoming a regular contributor to ABC TV.

When he returned to Australia in 2011 to complete his honours thesis on Australia’s campaign for the UN Security Council, Thom grasped the opportunity to help galvanise public support behind the campaign. Through his writing, Thom outlined the case for Australia’s bid, culminating in a joint op-ed piece coordinated by Thom and including Kevin Rudd, Alexander Downer and Gareth Evans. Since helping to build the bipartisan case for supporting Australia’s bid, Thom has consulted with a number of different countries about how they can best structure their own campaigns for the UN Security Council.

In 2011, Thom also began work to establish Global Voices, which now provides Australia’s leading opportunity for young people to attend international diplomatic events. Through Global Voices programs, almost 150 young people have now travelled overseas, fully-funded to events such as the G20, APEC and various UN meetings. Since graduating from a Master of International Relations in late 2012, Thom has worked with Independent Diplomat, the world’s first non-profit diplomatic advisory group. Thom is currently supporting the Republic of the Marshall Islands, one of the lowest lying atoll nations, as they build their diplomatic capacity to influence negotiations for a new global deal on climate change. Working closely with the President, Foreign Minister and Senior Officials as they structure their diplomatic efforts, the Marshall Islands have become one of the most vocal vulnerable countries on climate change during this period.

As a 2014 Rhodes Scholar, Thom has moved to Oxford and now completes this work part-time while he writes a thesis on the role of small states in international diplomacy. As a young alumnus, Thom has made a significant impact on Australia’s foreign policy; a fact reflected in his recognition by the Diplomatic Courier Magazine as one of the world’s Top 99 Under 33 Foreign Policy Leaders in 2013.

Congratulations Thom Woodroofe, recipient of a 2015 Rising Star Award for Young Alumni.

Acceptance Statement:

“It is a real honour to be recognized alongside Stephanie with the extremely weighty title as this year’s ‘Rising Star’.  While I came to the University of Melbourne and the Faculty itself quite late (having completed my studies at that “other university” out there in the eastern suburbs), it still left a distinct impression on me.

Indeed, having just returned to study at Oxford University, I feel I can testament to the fact that the supervision really was first class, the seminars really were world leading, and the support for extra-curricular engagement really was unparalleled – how many students at other universities could say for example that they were tutored by Australia’s greatest foreign minister, that they were supervised by Australia’s leading mind on the UN, and that their Faculty placed great trust as a major sponsor in a NGO they were starting? 

I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that if it were not for the relations I formed in Parkville, or the teaching that I benefitted from and the cohort I mingled in, that I would not be where I was today – no cliché intended. 

Thank you so much.”

Contribution to the Faculty and University

The Contribution to the Faculty and University Award is bestowed upon an individual who has made a significant and sustained contribution to the Faculty and University through outstanding leadership, impact on students, research and teaching, engagement or philanthropy. The 2015 Contribution to the Faculty and University Award goes to Michael Bartlett, in recognition of his tireless commitment to the study of Classics at the University of Melbourne.

 Michael Bartlett (BA 1976, GDipEd 1977)

Michael-BartlettEducated at the University of Melbourne and Cambridge University, Michael’s passion for the classical world continues to this day. In collaboration with staff in the Classics & Archaeology Program at Melbourne, in 2008 Michael established the series, ‘Classics in the city’, which offers a number of seminars across the year on topics devoted to various aspects of antiquity including ancient philosophy, literature, history, music, mythology and archaeology. With the noble goal of stimulating the minds and lives of Melbourne’s business community, Michael believed there was a real opportunity to link business and Classics by allowing the business world to have its intellectual curiosity met while the University engaged with industry and showcased the talents of its Classics & Archaeology Program.

Since 2013 a key priority of the Melbourne Humanities Foundation Board has been to build support for a Chair in Classics at Melbourne. Former University Chancellor Dr Ian Renard announced his intention to support this initiative and Foundation Board Member and Classics alumnus Michael Bartlett initiated a fund for this purpose. Championing all things classical on the Melbourne Humanities Foundation Board, Michael chaired the dedicated group raising funds to support the teaching of Classics and Ancient World Studies. The group’s goal has been to see the Chair of Classics – one of the first chairs established by the University in 1854 – fully funded in perpetuity in order to ensure that the legacy of the ancient world endures for future generations. On 11 April 2013, in his role as Chairman, Michael was able to see the first stage of this task come to fruition. The sum of $20,000 was given to the Faculty of Arts for the purpose of establishing a fund to be known as the ‘Classics Trust Fund’. The Fund supports not only the establishment and endowment of a chair of Classics, but also teaching and research, and purchase of equipment and facilities for the support of general Classics initiatives. With the assistance of over fifty gifts, including generous support from alumni Mrs Elizabeth and Professor James Tatoulis, the Faculty is delighted that it is now close to Michael’s goal.

Congratulations Michael Bartlett, awarded the 2015 Arts Alumni Award for Contribution to the Faculty.

Acceptance Statement:

“How often have you woken up from a repeated and particular dream in a panic and cold sweat? My repeated panicked dream is sitting my final university examination in Classical Greek. It is curious that my particular dream kept recurring even forty years after the original memorable event. Now, the Jungian dream analysts among you would have innumerable theories concerning the origins of my dream, but I am pleased to inform you that I arrived at a resolution all by myself and no longer experience that ordeal.

In my case, my subconscious was obviously crying out for a balancing of my passion for the Classics. While considering my formal education at Melbourne Grammar, The University of Melbourne and The University of Cambridge, I realised that the cause of my particular issue was the fact that I had completed 12 years of Latin and only 4 years of Greek. And my sleep patterns were restored simply by enrolling in some Greek courses in Melbourne University’s Community Access Program and thereby beginning the joy of redressing my Classical imbalance.

I would like to acknowledge the inspiring, always characterful and at times long-suffering Teachers of Classics at those three great educational institutions. Back then, I did not have the academic or emotional maturity to be an exemplary student. In fact, I claim that back then I achieved first class honours for absolutely everything … except my academic studies. However, each of those patient educators inspired in me an abiding love of the Classics. To set the academic record straight though, you should know that when I was recently studying Greek at the University of Melbourne, via the Community Access program, as a mature age student and over three successive semesters, I did actually achieve straight first class honours– genuine ones, of which I am very proud.

So, after five years of Teaching Latin and English at Secondary School, one and half years as a Research Assistant to a Federal Shadow Minister and thirty years in the Financial World, which included the privilege of living and working in London, New York, Hong Kong and Singapore, and my classics books accompanied me wherever I was, what role does Classics now play in my life back in Melbourne?

Well, I derive great joy from helping and encouraging my three sons with their Latin homework. I try to read as widely as possible on Classical themes. Professor Mary Beard and Boris Johnson are my current favourite authors. I attend a weekly Latin reading class in the City – a delightful break from commerce. I am very proud of the fact that, with the University of Melbourne’s help, we have instituted a very popular series of lunchtime talks in the City on Classical themes. This initiative is now into its eleventh year.

With a small Committee of like-minded professional men and women, as part of the University’s Foundation for the Humanities, we have undertaken to raise $5M towards funding a Chair of Classics in perpetuity at the University of Melbourne. Due to the extraordinary efforts of many individuals, and two in particular, we have almost completed this first task. And then, for the benefit of future generations of Melbourne University Classics students, we shall begin raising funds for another Classic Teaching position, in perpetuity, and then another one!

I feel honoured, humbled and indeed overwhelmed to be the recipient of the 2015 Arts Alumni Award in the category of ‘Contribution to the Faculty and University’, for which I would like to thank sincerely the Dean, the Faculty and the University of Melbourne.


Leadership Award

The Leadership Award is awarded to an individual who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in business, community or government. In 2015, the Faculty of Arts is proud to present Erika Feller with this award, for her inspiring leadership in the field of refugee advocacy and humanitarianism.

Erika Feller (BA/LLB(Hons) 1972)

Erika Feller

Erika Feller is the Assistant High Commissioner of the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), which oversees the protection of 34 million refugees, internally displaced and stateless people through the development of UN policies, law procedures and framework. She monitors the movement and treatment of refugees around the world, including in Australia.

Erika was previously Head of UNHCR’s Department of International Protection and spent considerable time as an Australian diplomat, including three overseas postings as well as senior appointments in Canberra. With more than 40 years of experience in international human rights and refugee law, a field in which she is a widely acknowledged authority, Erika has published extensively in many major refugee and international law journals. In her 19 years at UNHCR, she has served in a variety of capacities in the Department of International Protection, but also as the High Commissioner’s Regional Representative for Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore, and regional coordinator for the Comprehensive Plan of Action for Indo Chinese refugees in South East Asia.

In addition to involvement in many of UNHCR’s major field operations, Erika has closely followed developments in asylum policy and practice globally, including the European harmonisation process, regional protection initiatives in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, migration and asylum issues, sexual and gender violence problems, and policy and practice on internal displacement. She directly managed UNHCR’s Global Consultations in 2001, which set the international protection agenda for the start of the new century, and has also served as UNHCR’s chief negotiator of protection agreements with governments, as well as of multilateral arrangements with agency partners.

Congratulations Erika Feller, awarded the 2015 Arts Alumni Leadership Award.

Acceptance Statement:

“I am deeply grateful for the honour bestowed upon me through this award. My thanks go to the Committee which has conferred it and I also extend my congratulations to all others whose achievements are being recognised tonight. It is a source of regret that I could not be here in person, but a long-standing, previous and overlapping commitment to deliver the 2015 Sir Kenneth Bailey Oration has made this impossible. I wish the ceremony every success.

Leadership is a difficult quality to capture. It means different things to different people. My view of it aligns quite closely to a characterisation once offered by former US Secretary of State Kissinger. He said: “the art of being a leader is to get his (her) people from where they are to where they have not been”. I would go on to couple this with an observation attributed to Albert Schweitzer, that: “example is leadership”.

Leadership for me is a style, an attitude, a competence, and an art. How effective you will be as a leader will be determined, I believe, by the extent to which you have a clear guiding vision; you exercise authority which is understood and fully respectful of age, gender and diversity considerations; and you accept and take responsibility. One of the most impressive leaders I have worked with was a former United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees, Mrs Ogata, from Japan. She very broadly commanded loyalty, liking and respect. This was partly because she was always clear and consistent in her policies and was meticulous about her personal and professional behaviour. She dealt with conflict, did not avoid it, and was as transparent as is possible at that level about her assessments and her expectations. One knew where one was with her.

Mrs Ogata came originally from academia, which may explain her particular style of listening and learning. Talking of coherent and principled narratives, or the lack thereof, I suggest that our politicians could take a leaf out of Mrs Ogata’s book and give greater priority to this when it comes to refugees and asylum policies. I admit upfront a certain bias, given my many years working in favour of refugees, but I have been alarmed by the failure of the debate in Australia to better reflect refugee realities on the ground – to properly and compassionately take into account the problems of refugees, and the host countries which bear the biggest burden, rather than to be so exclusively driven by the local asylum dilemmas as such. The discussion here, at least as I have been exposed to it, has become ever more mired in polemics and a bewildering mass of misinformation and has fuelled attitudes locally and policies nationally and regionally which are both alarmist and defensive, not to say legally on the margins and morally indefensible. I can only characterise it as a failure of leadership where politicians are more driven by the polls and the imperatives of staying ahead politically than by consistent values or a coherent vision. As the refugee situation becomes ever direr, internationally, let’s hope our leaders will see the wisdom of leading by example and move boldly forward to accept their responsibilities in a more collaborative and compassionate spirit.

My time at Melbourne University was one I look back on with great fondness and appreciation. It prepared me well for the professional life which was to follow. I commend the University’s management and its staff for upholding the high standards of teaching and research for which it has become now so well-known and I am sure that this will be to the benefit not only of the generations it is educating but the world into which they take their knowledge and skills. I hope this will include the world of humanitarian endeavour, which is ever more in need.

Thank You.”

Lifetime Achievement Award

The Arts Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to an individual who has made an outstanding, long-term and internationally-recognised contribution to their field of endeavour. The Faculty of Arts is thrilled to award a Lifetime Achievement Award to Peter Singer in 2015. Peter is an internationally recognised moral philosopher and proponent of effective altruism.

 Peter Singer (BA(Hons) 1968, MA 1969)

15090_0810Professor Peter Singer, AC is often described as the world’s most influential living philosopher. Peter completed both a Bachelor and Master of Arts at the University of Melbourne. He is an Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, and Laureate Professor at our own School of Historical and Philosophical Studies. A moral philosopher, Peter has has authored countless articles and more than twenty books.

Specialising in applied ethics and approaching ethical issues from a secular, utilitarian perspective, Peter’s canonical text in animal rights and liberation theory, Animal Liberation (1975), saw him inducted into the United States Animal Rights Hall of Fame in 2000. He serves on the Advisory Board of Incentives for Global Health, the NGO formed to develop the Health Impact Fund proposal as well as the advisory board of Academics Stand Against Poverty (ASAP). In 2004 Peter was recognised as the Australian Humanist of the Year by the Council of Australian Humanist Societies, in 2006 he was voted one of Australia’s ten most influential public intellectuals, and on 11 June 2012, he was named a Companion of the Order of Australia for “eminent service to philosophy and bioethics as a leader of public debate and communicator of ideas in the areas of global poverty, animal welfare and the human condition.”

In his latest book, Peter presents a challenging new movement in the search for an ethical life: effective altruism. Building upon the simple but profound idea that living a fully ethical life involves doing the ‘most good you can do’, the movement requires a rigorously unsentimental view of charitable giving, urging that a substantial proportion of our money or time should be donated to the organisations that will do the most good with those resources. To be a worthy recipient of our support, an organization must be able to demonstrate that it will do more good with our money or our time than other options open to us. Effective altruism extends our knowledge of the possibilities of living less selfishly, and of allowing reason, rather than emotion, to determine how we live.

Congratulations Peter Singer, recipient of the 2015 Arts Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award.

Acceptance Statement:

“It’s particularly nice for me to receive this award in the very lecture hall where I attended my first philosophy lecture, which I think was 51 years ago. It is appropriately, therefore, a lifetime achievement, although I do hope I haven’t quite finished achieving just yet.

As I sat here tonight watching so many young people receiving awards for their excellent work in the Faculty of Arts, I want to say that I felt that I was very fortunate with the excellent education that I got here, which after leaving the University of Melbourne, enabled me to go on to study at Oxford and teach at Oxford, NYU and Princeton, and to feel that I could engage equally with the world class standard.

Continuing on from the remarks of Erika Feller, I think it is important for you [students] to think about what you want to do when you leave this place. You will have had marvellous years of study and education, learning to think for yourself and learning to develop a whole set of skills that will equip you for excellence throughout the years to come. But the question is then, what are you going to do with that?

I believe we have a lot of opportunities to do good in the world. I urge you to think about the ways in which you can do not just some good in the world, but the most good you can do*. That’s not something that everybody thinks about. There are a variety of opportunities out there in terms of the direction that the younger people in this audience (and young people in general) are heading. As one of the people in the effective altruism group, Will MacAskill calculated, you’re likely to spend about 80,000 hours working on your career. So if you’re going to spend 80,000 hours working on your career, its worthwhile spending not just an hour or two, but maybe 1% of that, say 800 hours, or roughly 20 weeks,  whatever it is, spend a reasonable amount of time thinking. I urge you to consider what choices are you going to make? What is going to both suit you and enable you to make that contribution to the world?

* This is a shameless plug for the title of my new book!

Thank you.”


Posted in Uncategorized

Connect online

Now that you’ve heard about the incredible achievements of our academics and alumni, why not share your story? Connect with us on our social media channels to reconnect with your alumni cohort.

Stay informed of the latest news and events and all the exciting developments happening in the Faculty of Arts. Join, follow and like our Faculty accounts at:

@ArtsAlumni and @MelbourneGovernment

@ArtsUnimelb and @Government_UoM


Faculty of Arts and Master of International Relations – Melbourne School of Government
(Keep an eye out for new dedicated groups for our other cohorts coming soon.)

GSHSSmelb and Government_UniMelb

Posted in Uncategorized