06 Dec Season’s Greetings
As Chair of Engagement Australia (EA) can I take this opportunity to wish you and your family all the very best for the festive season. It has been a busy year and I hope you find time to relax, spend time with your loved ones and recharge the batteries over the holiday period. My thanks to everyone involved in EA for their hard work and commitment this year. I would particularly like to thank my fellow Board members for their outstanding contribution this year in advancing the engagement agenda that we all cherish. I am pleased to report that EA recently welcomed three new members to its Board – Professor Minghan Choct, Pro Vice Chancellor External Relations (UNE), Associate Professor Laura Dan, Director of CSU Knowledge Exchange and Engagement (CSU) and the Hon Verity Firth, Executive Director Social Justice (UTS). I know the entire Board are looking forward to working with colleagues across the sector, building on the great work that has been achieved this year (a few highlights of which are included below):
We started 2019 with EA’s signature Leadership Forum hosted at the Universities Australia conference in Canberra. Professor Mary Stuart CBE, Vice Chancellor of the University of Lincoln headlined EA’s Leadership Forum. Her initiative creating Lincoln University’s 21st Century Lab presents one of the finest examples of a University addressing global issues locally through community engagement. Check out her recent work in this area: https://21stcenturylab.lincoln.ac.uk/
Our national conference held in August built on EA’s Leadership Forum. Titled The Role of the Civic University in Australia: the Making of a City Region, it is fair to say that the scope of issues and themes addressed at this year’s conference was literally breath-taking. Reflecting on the range, reach and the depth of contributions made to this ground-breaking conference it is striking just how far we have come in defining and shaping a concept of engagement. Universities in Australia are building the future as part of a new economic and social order and this year we were able to test ideas and innovations in healthy and open debate. Sharing best practice and putting new ideas and innovations into the public domain is the lifeblood of democratic engagement – this is EA’s unique role in Australia.
This year we launched two new editions of Transform: the Journal of Engaged Scholarship, which has led the debate across a full range of engagement issues globally. Transform is evolving into a compendium and rich resource for those whose concerns lie in the burgeoning field of university engagement, providing an intellectual resource for all of those who want to take forward the critical examination of higher learning and scholarship in a world in which knowledge is exploding into availability.
Next year EA’s publications and events will address pressing issues and key themes that need the academy to be a genuine forum for debate and dispute and to engage with the wider world. Universities are increasingly charged with incorporating an active dimension to their missions and strategies towards greater engagement with government(s) and industry. Following feedback from members, I am pleased to report that new ideas and innovative approaches adopted by universities towards government and industry engagement will feature heavily in EA’s 2020 agenda, notably at our Leadership Forum in February and our national conference in August.
EA ends this year with our largest university membership in our 17-year history, proudly representing the majority of Australian universities across all HE interest groups. Last week we welcomed The University of Sydney and The University of Melbourne as our most recent members. This bodes well for the future as it will allow us to respond to the call to develop our own ‘song’ for the sector. And as we know from the esteemed body of work by Taylor Swift (no less), cited at this year’s EA conference…
”…everybody needs a song…”
Providing a single voice to Government(s), industry and the communities we serve will allow us to celebrate our unity in diversity in the important area of engagement that we all cherish.
Can I take this opportunity to wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I am looking forward to working with you, and for you, in 2020.
Professor Jim Nyland
Chair, Engagement Australia