The Australasian Consortium of Humanities Research Centres (ACHRC) is a network for groups engaged in Humanities-based research. Our aim is to connect Humanities researchers and centres, both within the Australasian region and internationally, and to promote relationships with cultural institutions and sector representative bodies in the wider community. We provide a virtual and physical hub for information about research opportunities and events, and seek to strengthen the public profile of research in the Humanities.


Public Humanities Conference
2016 Annual Meeting dates and theme announced

The 2016 ACHRC Annual Meeting “The Public Humanities” will be held in Adelaide on Friday 11 and Saturday 12 November, with a workshop and pre-meetings on Thursday 10 November.  The meeting will be hosted by the ACHRC, The Centre for the History of Emotions and Flinders University and will take place at the State Library of South Australia’s Hetzel Theatre in the Institute Building on the corner of North Terrace and Kintore Avenue, and Flinders in the City, Victoria Square.

The ACHRC conference on the Public Humanities focuses on a core aspect of humanities research that is particularly germane to research centres in universities and collecting institutions: the integral role of engagement with publics. This is really how the impact of our sector needs to be understood: in the long and dynamic threads of dialogue between researchers and publics on issues such as justice, creativity, decolonization, and heritage. The capacity of the humanities to deal with qualitative emotion as well as the quantitative facts of history and culture is crucial here. Any understanding of a cultures past, present, and future requires an articulation of feelings as well as of facts.

Our aim is to bring together speakers with practical experience of programs that work so that our discussions are grounded in the pragmatics of public humanities. In Australia and New Zealand, government-led discussions of innovation and impact are mired in metrics that traduce the real public values of the sciences almost as completely as they ignore the HASS disciplines as a whole. We know about public value – its impact over time and in the lives of individuals – so this conference will be an opportunity build our case as a sector.

Thursday 10 November – Workshops, Pre-meetings, and Public Lecture 1
Friday 11 November- The Public Humanities conference Day 1
Saturday 12 November – The Public Humanities conference Day 2, and Public Lecture 2
Sunday 13 November – Wine, heritage and art tour

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The ACHRC calls on the Federal Government to fund TROVE, the most crucial Humanities Research infrastructure in Australia.

24 March 2016

Dear Mr Turnbull,

I write on behalf of the Australasian Consortium of Humanities Research Centres (ACHRC) to protest against the severe and destructive cuts recently visited upon the national galleries, museums, archives, and libraries (GLAM). Their work remains vital, not only to academic research, but also to the community at large and more broadly to the nation’s understanding of its own identity and its own achievements, past and present. These recent cuts, on top of the ‘efficiency dividend’ regularly imposed upon the national GLAM sector’s activities, have made it impossible for them to maintain the number and quality of the services they offer Australia’s researchers as well as the nation at large.

Like most of the individuals and institutions who have protested to the government in recent weeks, we would point to the arrested development of the Trove resource at the NLA as exemplary. Trove is a vital portal to research data for all the nation’s scholarly, teaching, and cultural institutions. It is a model of its kind around the world, a point vigorously expressed by the New Zealand academics on our board, who find the cut mystifying. An efficiency dividend that kills off its maintenance and development will distribute huge inefficiencies around the nation and the globe. Literally millions of research tasks will become harder and more time-consuming. Trove underwrites much of the research humanities scholars do, and ensures its impact by providing access to the public. It underwrites education by allowing individuals to combine teaching with research more efficiently, because we no longer have to travel across the country and spend days physically located in a library finding the sources we need. The NLA is justly proud of its achievement with trove and it is clear that only acute pressure from cascading cuts would force it to consider so drastic a measure.

In addition, Trove is a vital part of the many fundamental research facilities offered by the GLAM sector for humanities researchers. Along with the Academy of the Humanities, we would extend our protest against recent cuts by asking the government to consider funding the GLAM sector through its national research infrastructure. Australian culture is not, in fact, shrinking by a couple of percent per annum, and the GLAM infrastructure for supporting it has become as lean as it can be after more than two decades of attrition. Open and searchable collections provide the essential infrastructure for the tens of thousands of academics and citizens engaged in humanities research, on the spectrum from family history to world-leading cultural analysis. When the institutions that support them are under constant stress, education, culture and research outputs suffer.

Robert Phiddian
Australasian Consortium of Humanities Research Centres

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