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NEWS FROM THE DIRECTOR
Recently Steve Johnson and I presented a short (four week) course through University Extension, Human Wellbeing in the 21st Century. We examined evolutionary, physiological and psychosocial perspectives of human wellbeing and considered how our worldview is affected by culture, and how this might influence outcomes for human wellbeing in the 21st century. Our small but enthusiastic group of participants discussed many issues and I was impressed by their thoughtfulness and engagement. The Extension course was a great pleasure to teach and also a good opportunity to canvas a range of responses to some of our curricular material.
Professor Neville Bruce
Director, Centre for Integrated Human Studies
NEXT SEMINAR: THE TOAD WORK May 6
“Why should I let the toad work / Squat on my life?” Philip Larkin
In hunter/gatherer societies, around twenty hours a week was needed to acquire food and shelter to maintain bodily health, and the rest of the time was available for sleep, leisure, family life and cultural activity. What has driven us to work longer hours? How do our patterns of work affect us? Where is the leisure and prosperity promised by the technological revolution?
Join chair Prof Colin MacLeod and presenters Prof Rob Lambert, Dr Elliot Wood, and SSTUWA president Anne Gisborne at 5.30 pm on May 6 to consider how human wellbeing is affected by modern work practices. All are welcome and there is no charge to attend. The seminar is in Seminar Room 1.81 on the first floor of the School of Anatomy and Human Biology. For those who have yet to attend our seminars, and wonder where we are, see Getting Here below.
NOTES FROM THE LAST SEMINAR, EDUCATION
Neville introduced the Education for World Futures initiative. We at the Centre for Integrated Human Studies have strong ideas about how education can contribute to a positive change by presenting interdisciplinary curricula and including an examination of values. The three speakers each had their own perspective on important aspects of education.
Aileen Marwung Walsh has taught Aboriginal history at UWA, Curtin and Notre Dame universities. She found it personally traumatic to speak of some of the things that have happened to Aborigines, and recognised that her students, many of whom were encountering Aboriginal history for the very first time in her classes, also found it traumatic. Aboriginal history was not only relevant to Australians but had parallels throughout the world where countries with indigenous populations were colonised. International research into trauma and cultural identity by Ron Eyerman and the race theory of Robert Young informed Aileen’s own work. It was impossible to avoid contemplating racism in Australian history, as the nation developed through the naturalisation of racism, and it was a key theme of much of the written history. Much more work would need to be done in Aboriginal history to uncover examples of Aboriginal experience which did not include racism. Students want to make sense of the present by understanding the past, but the present, in the form of news reporting, can intrude on their sense of Aboriginal progress. Aileen’s students often ask why nothing seems to be changing for Aborigines but she points out that her life is very different from that of her mother (who was taken from her family at the age of 7 and raised in a mission) and her grandmother. Aileen said that it was important that the trauma experienced by Aborigines could now be shared by all Australians. Just as Anzac Day and Remembrance Day memorialised traumatic histories, Aboriginal stories had now been publicised through Bill Stanner’s “After the Dreaming” Boyer lectures and royal commissions into the Stolen Generation and Deaths in Custody. The work of FCAATSI (The Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders) and the shared experience of enslavement influenced the formation of a pan-Aboriginal identity – this and the rediscovery of Aboriginal history by the wider community affected how Australians know themselves. The 2008 Apology to Australia’s Indigenous Peoples was very moving and allowed Australians to come together and share enduring memories of traumatic Aboriginal histories.
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