In a time of COVID and climate change, social sciences are vital, but they’re on university chopping blocks

Thu, 9 Sep 2021 06:44:37 +1000

Andrew Pam <xanni [at]>

Andrew Pam

"What are the three biggest challenges Australia faces in the next five to ten
years? What role will the social sciences play in resolving these challenges?

The Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia asked these questions in a
discussion paper earlier this year. The backdrop to this review is cuts to
social science disciplines around the country, with teaching taking priority
over research.

One Group of Eight university, for example, proposes to cut the number of
anthropology and sociology staff from nine to one. Positions across the social
sciences are to be reclassified from teaching and research to teaching-only.

In addition, research funding is increasingly going to applied research. The
federal government wants research that has greater engagement with industry and
can be shown to contribute to the national interest.

The confluence of funding changes and loss of revenue from fee-paying
international students comes on the back of other ominous long-term trends.
Since the 1980s, successive federal governments have undermined perceptions of
the importance of the social sciences compared with science, technology,
engineering and mathematics (STEM)."

       *** Xanni ***
--               Andrew Pam                 Chief Scientist, Xanadu            Partner, Glass Wings               Manager, Serious Cybernetics

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