Existential entertainment

The University of Newcastle is offering an in-person $299 short-course on existentialism. It will run twice at the Sydney campus. But it seems the university assumes the big interest in philosophy is recreational. Last year management announced a new BA structure, designed to address, “a global challenge in the identity of the humanities, a trend we are aiming to tackle head on in our present context,” (CMM October 30 2017). The tackles includes cutting undergraduate philosophy courses.


La Trobe U says research output is what matters, not where academics put in all the hours

La Trobe University management is circulating new workload guidelines which some staffers read as making research time dependent on outputs. This could mean academics who do not qualify for a full research day working wherever they like, being expected to be on campus five days a week. The issue came up in July, when college heads wrote to staff telling them they had to be on-campus Monday-Friday but university management backed off (CMM July 6 2018). But not to worry, the university says the new guidelines have nothing to do with where people work some of their required hours. “The new proposal is about the allocation of time against activity. It is not about where that activity takes place. The two are not in any way related,” a La Trobe U representative said last night.

MOOCS of many mornings: the three Australia courses shortlisted for the edX annual award

Three Australian MOOCs are on the ten-course short-list for the edX 2018 prize for exceptional contributions in online teaching and learning.

Lucy Potter and University of Adelaide colleagues are nominated for Shakespeare matters, “learn how to read a Shakespeare play and gain the tools you need to interpret its language.”

Bridget Tombleson, Lydia Gallant and Katharina Wolf from Curtin U teach Reputation management in a digital world, “learn how to develop, manage and protect an organisation’s online reputation through social media.”

At the University of Queensland, Blake McKimmie, Mark Horswill and Barbara Masser present, The psychology of criminal justice, “learn how behavioural science can improve our criminal justice system.

Last year’s winners were Bernadette Drabsch and Andrew Howells from the University of Newcastle for, “Drawing nature, science and culture: natural history illustration 101.”

Barrister called in to review Murdoch U “issues, matters, processes”

Some staff at Murdoch University are invited to contribute to a “preliminary review” of “issues, matters and processes at the university.” A member of the university’s council has written to a small number of staff, believed to be around 20, saying Chancellor David Flanagan has, “written to me encouraging me to ask any employee who I know has relevant information to make that information available.”

CMM understands barrister Heather Millar, from Francis Burt chambers in Perth, is commissioned to look at a range of issues including, international student recruitment and services provided for them at the university, staff appointment processes, including for senior positions and the well-being and mental health of Murdoch workers.

The review appears broader than an investigation into international student recruitment and standards, first revealed by Bethany Hiatt in The West Australian.

The National Tertiary Education Union has written to Mr Flanagan stating that asking “selected employees” to participate “does not demonstrate a genuine commitment to a thorough investigation of the issues” and asking for the review to accept contributions from all staff and students. The union also seeks an assurance that staff who do provide information are protected and indemnified as whistleblowers.

In response to a CMM request for comment a Murdoch representative responded last night with a one-line statement, “it is not the university’s practice to comment on such matters.”

Appointments, achievements

Jeremy Davey from the University of the Sunshine Coast will lead the Sunshine Coast Road Safety Research Collaboration, a joint venture between the university and the Queensland Motor Accident Insurance Commission. The project has five-year funding and will be based at USC.

Fred Watson is Australia’s first Astronomer at Large. The appointment was announced by Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews yesterday. Professor Watson retired this year from the Australian Astronomical Observatory. His brief is to “promote Australia’s world-leading astronomy and astrophysics capabilities to audiences here and overseas.”

The University of South Australia announces Richard Irons is the new director of Student and Academic Services. Mr Irons is now academic registrar at the University of Derby in the UK. He will start at UniSA in November.

The Academy of Social Sciences in Australia has named three winners of the Paul Bourke Award for Early Career Researchers; Renee Zahnow (University of Queensland), Emma Hutchinson (University of Queensland) and Tamsyn van Rheenen (University of Queensland).