History Week events promote the importance of history in navigating todays challenges

Thursday, 20 August 2020

The University of Newcastle is celebrating History Week 2020 with a series of events that highlight this year’s theme ‘History: what is it good for?’ which invites participants to share why history is important to them.

History week image

History Week is the annual, state-wide celebration of History organised by the History Council of New South Wales and will be held from 5 to 13 September.

The year 2020 has been momentous with bushfires, pandemics and protests. Vice President of the NSW History Council and Newcastle historian Associate Professor Nancy Cushing says these events have given history a new urgency.

“This year’s theme was selected prior to COVID-19 but 2020 has proven to be a year in which people have been looking backward – particularly to the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918-19 and the Great Depression of the 1930s – even more than usual for the perspective, guidance and reassurance that history can offer,” Nancy said.

“History Week events will encourage deeper thinking about how an understanding of history is useful – I would even say essential – in navigating the challenges of the present and to inform how we move into the future.”

For the first time, History Week will be largely online. Events at the University of Newcastle include:

Missed in History Wikipedia Edit-a-thon8 September.

When you look at Wikipedia, whose history is missing? Women, LGBTIQ+, people of colour? Important places and events from regional Australia, Newcastle and the Central Coast? As part of this event, participants will get the opportunity to build new skills and contribute knowledge to their community by enhancing Wikipedia content that connects to the University of Newcastle and its regions, incorporating people, places and events that have been ‘Missed in History’. It’s easy to learn and anyone can do it, even while sitting from home. The University of Newcastle Library team will show you how. Register for the event or share your edits with #UONMissedInHistory. Register online.

A History Degree: What is it good for? Online Zoom session – 10 September.

In June 2020, federal Education Minister Dan Tehan announced his intention to dramatically increase the cost of Humanities degrees at Australian universities. His plan was to steer students away from areas like history which he claimed did not lead to employment and towards degrees which would make them “job ready”. Many historians have rejected these claims arguing that degrees in the arts are essential to future workplaces, equipping graduates with highly valuable skills and dispositions. In this online Zoom session, a series of concerned speakers with an interest in history – students, graduates and employers from the University of Newcastle, University of New England and University of Sydney – will explore the value of studying history, showing that historians bring highly valued critical skills, civic literacy and clear communication to a wide range of workplaces.  Register online.

Nancy says History Council members have responded to the restrictions on face-to face events as an opportunity for innovation.

“We are thrilled to see events like the Edit-a-thon which are born digital alongside others which have been converted from face-to-face formats.  Live streamed guided tours of historical exhibitions are another example of how History Council members are moving creatively into the digital humanities space.  Particularly pleasing is seeing how members based in the regions are taking this unparalleled opportunity to bring their work and insights to an unbounded online audience,” Nancy said.

For more information visit the History Week website.

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The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.