National network brings humanities to the fore

phiddian-humsThe wealth of information made available by technology is making the insights offered by the humanities more, not less, necessary, according to Flinders University’s Associate Professor Robert Phiddian.

Associate Professor Phiddian believes the foundation of the Australian Consortium of Humanities Research Centres – its first annual meeting will be held at RiAus in Adelaide on July 25 and 26 – will assist in generating renewed activity in humanities research.

Associate Professor Phiddian is director of the new body, which will be hosted at Flinders. The ACHRC builds on a US model, the Consortium of Humanities Centres and Institutes (CHCI), which links researchers around the country to international networks and funding, and co-ordinates research activity across the sector. The Director of the CHCI, Professor Srinivas Aravamudan of Duke University, will present the keynote address and welcome the Australian network into the international fold.

The National Library of Australia and the Department of Innovation, Science, Industry and Research will be represented at the meeting, along with universities from all states and territories.

“There is a tendency to think of the humanities, which include the study of literature, culture, philosophy and languages, as old-fashioned. But to turn the flood of information we currently face into understanding, we urgently need the deep analysis and insight that the humanities offer,” Associate Professor Phiddian said.

“Humanities researchers are needed to analyse cultural, social and artistic trends because a society with no memory can repeat the mistakes of the past.”

The hub will be both virtual and physical, Professor Phiddian said: “As well as responding to the challenges ushered in by information technology, ACHRC will be putting that technology to work to make Australian humanities research more coherent and effective.”

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