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NEWS FROM THE DIRECTOR
It was good to meet some regular seminar attendees and some new faces at the Sun Fair on April 5. The Sun Fair is one of the premier events in Western Australia and has been promoting sustainable technologies since 2004. Some of you will have seen Fair coordinator Jonathon Thwaites speaking at our seminar on Greening Australia last year. Jonathon works tirelessly to educate people about energy technologies and is himself a real practitioner in the field, inventing affordable DIY sustainable technologies and developing a range of educational displays for everything from schools to Council exhibitions.Events like this bring many likeminded people together. Displays ranged from photovoltaic cells; electric cars, motor bikes and bicycles; permaculture; passive solar housing design; cleaning products; and a number of organisations covering renewable energy, sustainable population and green concerns. We believe strongly in the value of events like the Sun Fair that enable groups like this to bring their messages to the public. We plan to provide links to some of these organisations on our web site in the future.
Professor Neville Bruce
Director, Centre for Integrated Human Studies
NEXT SEMINAR: EDUCATION FOR A GLOBALISED WORLD April 22
What should the well-educated citizen of Australia know in order to approach the challenges of the 21st century? Must we know our past in order to chart our future? What is the role of universities in general – and this university in particular – in educating the brightest minds to lead us forward? What values must these bright minds hold?We will hear from Indigenous history teacher Aileen Walsh, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Bill Louden, and Canon Frank Sheehan; Neville Bruce will chair. It’s free and all are welcome. The seminar is 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, MORTALITY
Chair Prof Carmen Lawrence noted in her introduction that humans are unique in their awareness of the inevitability of death.
Prof Bev McNamara stated that both her research and personal experience of the deaths of family members and friends informed her remarks. She did not entirely agree with the assertion that we are a death-denying society: she felt most people thought of death on a “need-to-know” basis, that is, only when they had to. Public reaction to the death of Princess Diana was an indication of the depth of people’s responses. Bev examined the concept of a “good death”. While many people describe a good death as one which is sudden, and that they know nothing about, others characterise it as occurring after business is settled and goodbyes said; after a good life; with dignity; with control; at a time of their choosing; and when they are ready. Statistics about life expectancy and cause of death (we are most likely to die from heart disease or cancer, but death from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease is becoming increasingly common) suggest that some of these attributes are more achievable than others. Increasingly the place of death is in hospitals, and people know they are dying. A survey of carers also found most people were accepting of dying. Bev described how the concept of a good death has changed over time with the increasing medicalisation of death, and noted it still varies between different cultures. Finally she described some of the issues and constraints around planning our own “good death”.
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