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Thank you to everyone who has completed the Family Meals questionnaire for Cleeve Calder’s study. Cleeve still needs more data so if you have half an hour to spare and haven’t already done so, please visit www.ihs.uwa.edu.au/research/current_projects/family_meals_and_health to complete the survey. Feel free to send the link to your network too.Next Sunday is the Sun Fair at the Oak Lawn at UWA (on the Matilda Bay side of the campus). I’ll be presenting talks at 11.30 and 2.30 on Integrated Human Studies and how tertiary education can contribute to creating citizens and leaders who recognise the need for equitable action on global futures. We’ll have a table in the marquee all day, so why not come along and say hello. There will be an array of sustainable technologies on display, and four venues with a program of talks on sustainable living topics all day.Our seminar series this semester, broadly on the theme “Being human”, continues next Wednesday with a consideration of mortality. Details are below. We hope you are enjoying the seminars and that you continue to discuss the concepts and issues raised after you leave. It’s our strong belief that understanding what it is to be human is an essential starting point for understanding how humans can sustain life on this planet.
Professor Neville Bruce
Director, Centre for Integrated Human Studies
Next seminar: WHEN IT HAPPENS – MORTALITY April 8
“It’s not that I’m afraid to die. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” Woody Allen
To be human is to die. Historically death has been a commonplace of family life, but in affluent first world communities medical advances mean we rarely encounter it – or we may have unwanted foreknowledge of its approach. How have our attitudes to death changed over time? In our increasingly secular society, have our rituals around death diminished? Can we approach death as a spiritually enriching experience? Medical anthropologist Prof Bev McNamara, historian Dr Susannah Thompson and Hollywood Private Hospital chaplain Revd Graeme Manolas share insights and experiences in the third of our free seminars. Chair Prof Carmen Lawrence will moderate discussion after the talks. All are welcome to attend at 5.30 pm in Seminar Room 1.81 on the first floor of the School of Anatomy and Human Biology.
NOTES FROM THE LAST SEMINAR, GROWING UP – RITES OF PASSAGE
Zarah Burgess, while understanding that we had asked for her personal views on youth issues, did some informal research by canvassing a wide variety of young people from her circle over a range of nationalities, educational experience and socioeconomic status, and found some common concerns, including terrorism, health, employment, the sustainability of life on this planet, and relationship issues.Terrorism is an issue that is able to be perceived swiftly due to our communications technology. The events in Mumbai were particularly resonant for Zarah, who had been there recently.The global financial crisis has exacerbated pre-existing economic concerns of young people, creating a generation fearful about a future of debt. Eighty-three per cent of people 18 – 24 are in debt, while 43% of HECS debtors owe an average of $10,500. Homelessness is also an issue for some young people. Young people want action on the long term protection of our environment, but while there was some anger at preceding generations who had created the situation and governments that were slow to act, Zarah felt that young people must also accept responsibility for their own futures.The activities of young people were often frowned upon by older people and in some cases this was justified, but many young people were involved in charitable and volunteer work. From a global perspective, Australian youth were lucky compared with those in other countries.
Kerry O’Sullivan, a comedian and actor, bravely shared readings from her teenage diaries. As a thirteen-year-old attending a Catholic girls school in Adelaide, Kerry’s concerns and interests were about relationships with friends, family, and boys, school and social life, films and film stars. With the wisdom of hindsight and a fine sense of the ridiculous, Kerry’s dramatic reading gently poked fun at her own “angsty laments” while they were revealed with deadly serious honesty. It was a rare insight into a young girl’s process of self discovery and a reminder of how turbulent this transition through adolescence can be.
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