The Australasian Consortium of Humanities Centres and Researchers (ACHRC) has been a lithe and powerful force for coherence, collegiality, advocacy, and professional development for university-based research groups in Humanities and the Creative Arts. It started at Flinders in 2011, moved to ANU in 2017, and has now returned to Flinders as an interim measure, without secure institutional support into the future.
The ACHRC has been very successful in running a series of events on humanities research, links with GLAM bodies, and humanities in the regions. It is internationally networked, especially through the CHCI. Our events and programs have always stressed the practical side of how to run research groupings, especially in universities. The main ingredients of the ACHRC are:
• a strong advisory board;
• in person events talking less about the what of research than the how;
• diversity across disciplines and types of university;
• networking and advocacy within the university sector, to government, and internationally.
Our annual meeting this year will be held under the umbrella of the Congress of HASS in Sydney on Thursday the 30th of November. In some ways, it will mirror the meeting called by Iain McCalman at Sydney in 2010, which addressed the need for a network and called the ACHRC into being. While the need for the consortium is strong, this discussion will focus on about whether it’s the last dance or a rebirth for the ACHRC. Consequently, we will address the central practical question:
Where do research centres in the humanities and creative arts now find themselves?
The years since the arrival of COVID have been a period of upheaval in the tertiary sector: disrupted modes of academic sociability; a change in government in Australia that has put pause to an imminent excellence in research exercise; structural and financial change inside universities, often pursued in a context of funding shock. There have been many functional changes in the way universities support research, not all of them welcome or well-attuned to HASS research: themes, clusters, centres, institutes and more. How do we now understand the challenges and opportunities for group-based research? What is the right body to frame this agenda for the sector? Where do we find the energy and resources to push this research agenda? In challenging times, what can collective effort do?
Join us in a round-table discussion to assess whether (and if so, how) the ACHRC is the right body to help us all build strategic capability in the 21st century Australasian university. This is a crisis meeting, but the question to be addressed is whether the crisis is a narrow one for the Consortium as an organisation with a natural life-cycle, or a bigger one for centre and cluster-based research in HASS in general.
In an allied event on Wednesday November 29th, there will be a Humanities in the Regions workshop on the project led by Victoria Kuttainen of James Cook University. This will be a half-day session gathering the people already engaged in this initiative and any others interested on the Value of the Regional Bachelor of Arts. Please get in touch if you are interested in attending and note that there will be a report on this in the Thursday meeting.
More details about the annual meeting will be forthcoming