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Innovation, insight, introspection and ideation have shaped and defined the tone and mood at the School of Culture, History and Language (CHL) over the past week. Two of the school’s four major flagship events this year—the Innovative Language Education Symposium and Rethinking Pollution—represented the diversity of CHL’s educational and developmental focus. Themes discussed and debated upon ranged from language teaching technology and the cultural perceptions of language to pollution rituals and environmental politics and culture.
Innovative Language Education
Take 1. Kicking off the proceedings from 5–7 September was the Innovative Language Education Symposium, which brought together national and international leaders in language education to map out their visions of what constitutes innovative language education today, as well as to share and discuss the pressing national and international issues surrounding language education.
Over three, learning-packed and insightful days, a diverse and interdisciplinary set of bright minds shared the latest research in Asian language teaching and talked about developments in language teaching pedagogy. Through the study of policy, research and pedagogy, the symposium provided a platform for debates and discourses on how Australia could set its course to lead the way forward in language education in the Asian Century. Discussion centred around topical themes like language and policy, the definition of innovation in the context of language education, the growing global relevance of South East Asian & Pacific languages, and intercultural education. The forum was also the perfect occasion to officially launch the school's ePub website, through which CHL is well on track along the path of innovative pedagogy, with virtual classrooms and remote learning and multimedia-enabled e-text publications.
The cultural exchange was not just limited to presentations and academia; the forum also showcased the cultural diversity of language in the arts. Day 1 featured a scintillating performance from Yu Yiping, who captivated the audience with her renditions of traditional Chinese music. Day 2 ended with a bang thanks to the high-energy moves of K-Rush, from the ANU's very own Korean Pop Culture (ANU K-Pop Club). If the day was intensely packed with lots of research insights to mull over, the evening was a perfect conclusion, giving everyone the chance to let loose and shake a leg!
A/Prof and Deputy Director (Languages) Peter Friedlander, A/Prof Duck-Young Lee, and A/Prof Shunichi Ishihara
Dr Yuri Takahashi giving her talk at the Symposium
A/Prof and Deputy Director (Languages) Peter Friedlander, giving a certificate of appreciation to Keynote speaker, Joseph Lo Bianco, who is Prof of Language and Literacy Education at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education
Digital Education Support Officer Mr Steven Mottlee and symposium speaker Ms Jenny Homerang, who is an online lecturer in Tok Pisin language
Take 2. The Rethinking Pollution Symposium took over the baton of discourse from Innovative Language Education during 9–11 September. It was aimed at tackling and interrogating a major environmental and socio-economic challenge of the 21st century: pollution. Our understanding of the problem—its precedents and solutions—has thus far been largely western-centric and scientifically driven. The symposium brought scholars from ANU and beyond to discuss critical social and cultural questions related to pollution, broadly conceived in environmental, social, and cultural terms. It examined how pollution and polluting practices shape local communities and landscapes, impact national agendas and policies, and transform social relationships and illness experience and infection. The three-day seminar delved into critically topical themes, such as environment and public health perspective, pollution in wildlife and the impact on Indigenous Australia, dealing with pollution in Asia, deep history and climate change, conflict and pollution, and environmental career paths.
Questions of a myriad nature were posed, with the participants raising and thinking about the origins and consequences of pollution, how polluted systems pose new public health threats, and how human relations with bacteria are shifting. The group gained valuable and global insights into aspects like antimicrobial resistance in India and the Asia Pacific, as well as the environmental protest movement in Inner Mongolia and the nationalisation of Himalayan black-carbon testing.
A particular highlight for the school was a talk by CHL’s Director, Professor Simon Haberle, a pioneering thought leader in palynology and the long-term impact of people on the environment. He spoke about the long-term effects of current climate change on airborne particles (e.g., pollen, dust, smoke) in regions around the globe with an emphasis on the Asia Pacific and considers what actions might be possible to mitigate the negative impact of airborne pollution in the future. The discussion was enlightening and, of course, extremely seasonal—bang in the middle of the Canberra pollen and hay fever wave!
Symposium organisers Prof and Deputy Director (Research) Assa Doron and Dr Larissa Schneider
Panel 1: Environment and Public Health Perspective with Chair: Dr Lisa Matriste, Dr Anuj Sharma (WHO, India), Dr Amit Khurana (CSE, India), Dr Paul Dugdale (Chief Health Officer ACT and Medical Director, Canberra Hospital) and Dr Catherine Scheutze (USYD)
Keynote speaker Prof Alex Broom (Scientia Professor of Sociology, UNSW)
Day 3's Environmental Career Panel facilitated by Dr Larissa Schneider and Hanna James featuring Dr Katie Volter: Commonwealth Department of the Environment and Energy, Mr Nicholas Metherall: University of the South Pacific, Dr Kelsie Long: Environmental Researcher in University, Mr Tom Sloan: Sustineo Consultancy, Mr Matthew Dutkiewicz: Commonwealth Department of the Environment and Energy, Mr Nathan Kay: Environmental Offsets - ACT Parks and Conservation Service and Dr Jennie Mallela: Environmental Researcher in University
CHL: A Melting Pot of Ideas and Knowledge
At CHL, the vision is to create knowledge that is specialised, critical, and engaged with current discourses and debates within the many disciplines incorporated into our structure. Our structure is diverse and inclusive, embracing and thriving on diversity as the school's core strength. From this diversity comes the complexity that's fundamental to supporting a research environment that drives innovative and influential teaching and research. In this context, we would like to thank our academics for spearheading and driving the school's two flagship events this year, enabling the wider community, both within and beyond ANU, to experience firsthand the broad-ranging nature of CHL's interdisciplinary approach to learning:
Innovative Language Education: Associate Professor and Deputy Director (Languages) Peter Friedlander, Associate Professor Duck-Young Lee, and Associate Professor Shunichi Ishihara
Rethinking Pollution: Professor and Deputy Director (Research) Assa Doron, Dr Larissa Schneider, and Associate Professor Simon Avenell…
…and to all our other academics, international and national guests, students, volunteers, and professional staff who made it all possible!
Take 3. Synapse. Indigenous Remix. Research Day….watch this space for lots more in the near future at CHL!