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President's Message
Image of Jane Hall
This month we are welcoming two new members of the Executive to their first meetings. Cindy Gallois is chairing the Grants and Awards Committee and Don Byrne is now chair of Panel D.  

Our first meetings have reaffirmed our strategic intent and are we setting priorities for the year. There is plenty on the agenda for 2021, including continuing our action on climate change, progressing our work on reconciliation, completing a major project on the state of the social sciences (more below) and of course celebrating our 50th anniversary year.

2021 also sees a new Australian Chief Scientist, Dr Cathy Foley. We have extended our congratulations to Cathy and have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to discuss her priorities and plans.  

The Academy’s links with the Office of the Chief Scientist have been strong and important over the last years. Cathy is very enthusiastic about the value of the social sciences and the humanities, so our strong working relationship looks set to continue.

I hope you are aware of our State of the Social Sciences project. This is a major review, and it is important to engage widely with the sector. Please encourage your colleagues to contribute.  

An anniversary year encourages taking stock of where we are, and this project is focussed on that. Of course such a year offers great opportunity to look back with pride at the achievements of the social sciences, and to look forward with optimism.

Professor Jane Hall FASSA FAHMS, President

CEO's Message
Photo of Chris Hatherly
2021 is well and truly underway and the Academy is working hard on an expanded suite of activities and events as part of its 50th anniversary year.

I’m particularly pleased to announce that our Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan has been conditionally approved by Reconciliation Australia, and we’re looking forward to formally launching this plan during National Reconciliation Week (27 May – 2 June).

We’re progressing arrangements for our 50th birthday party (pencil in a dinner in your nearest capital on Wednesday 7 July) as well as for our Anniversary Symposium (22-23 November). The Symposium will be held over one-and-a-half days with a black tie gala dinner at Parliament House on Monday November 22.

The Cunningham Lecture and New Fellows Presentations will take place on the afternoon and evening of Tuesday 23 November, and the Academy Panel meetings and AGM are scheduled for the morning and early afternoon of Wednesday 24 November. While we’re very much looking forward to seeing many Fellows and friends in person in Canberra, we will also have a high-quality online broadcast for those unable or reluctant to travel. Note that the 2022 Symposium will be held in a different city (TBD) as we begin to rotate Academy events around Australia.

Beyond all of the above, we’ve got a busy program of policy roundtables (recently held on the climate-related implications of other complex policy interventions and on completing the retirement income review) and more than a dozen newly funded and rescheduled workshops from 2020 lined up over the year.

Consultation on our major State of the Social Sciences
report is still open (the survey and submission deadlines are extended to 19 March) and planning for the fourth annual Social Sciences Week (6-12 September) is well underway.

And finally, the Academy’s podcast and communications platform Seriously Social continues to go from strength to strength, with the podcast series recently clicking over 12,000 downloads. Well worth a look and a listen if you haven’t already done so.

Dr Chris Hatherly, CEO

Read, Listen, Watch
READ: Constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians – where is the debate up to?
Readers of Inside Story may have seen Fellow Tim Rowse’s recent essay summarising where the debate on the constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians has got to. If you missed it, read it here.
LISTEN: Overworked or underworked? Finding the balance.
It’s likely we’d be hard pressed to find anyone underworked in academia right now, but nonetheless, those interested in how we work (and in motivating others who work for and with us) will enjoy this podcast episode featuring new Fellow Andrew Neal.
Andrew has done extensive research on workloads and these are prioritised (particularly in terms of safety). Did you know that more aviation accidents happen when air traffic control towers are in quiet periods rather than busy periods? Listen here on the Seriously Social podcast.
WATCH: The future of the social sciences – have your say.
This excellent short video was put together by Isabel Ceron, a PhD intern working with our Policy Manager on the State of the Social Sciences project (you can read Isabel’s profile below).  Please watch, share with your networks and have your say via the online survey or submission by the 19 March deadline.
READ (AND LISTEN!): Why humour does more than make you laugh.
Does humour have a place in serious environments like our workplaces and our courts? Both were tackled in a recent episode of the Seriously Social podcast, which featured Fellow Sharon Roach Anleu. Sharon was sharing her expertise on use of emotion in judicial work, also the subject of her recent book: Judging and Emotion: a Social-Legal analysis.

Download the podcast episode (which also features Australian cartoonist of the year, Cathy Wilcox) here.

Read more about Sharon’s book here.
Panel Ballot Now Open
Fellows can now vote on the 2021 Fellowship nominees in their panel via theFellows portalon the Academy’s website.  The Panel Ballot is now open and will close on Monday 22 March.

Conference Topics Wanted
The Academy will host the 24thBiennial General Conference of the Association of Asian Social Science Research Councils (AASSREC) in October 2021. The conference serves as a forum for the presentation of country papers and the discussion of contemporary and relevant issues in the Asia-Pacific region.

AASSREC has called for suggestions from its members for a conference topic. Ideally the topic will have:
  • appeal to all members and their countries
  • opportunities for most social science disciplines to be able to contribute (multidisciplinary approaches are welcome)
  • possible importance for public policy advice

If you have any suggestions please send them to by Friday 19 March 2021.
Your suggestions can be as formal or informal as you like and suggestions for sub-topics or sessional themes will be greatly appreciated.

Planning 2021 Events? Schedule them for Social Sciences Week, 6-12 Sept 2021
Planning is already underway for Social Sciences Week 2021. This will be the fourth year for our new national program and it is growing rapidly. Keep an eye out for more details and keep these dates in mind if you are planning any events – workshops, lectures, seminars, film nights, all are welcome in Social Sciences Week.

To get your institution involved in Social Sciences Week 2021, email
Fellows Making News
Academy Fellows make significant contributions across the breadth of social research and policy. Of particular note this month are the contributions of Fellows Professor Bernadette McSherry and Professor Allan Fels; Commissioners of the Royal Commission into Victoria's Mental Health System and Professor Pat McGorry AO who chaired the Commission's Expert Advisory Committee. The final report released this week documents some successes and serious failures and calls for significant system reform.
From Our Socials
The Academy is increasingly active on social media, and you can follow us on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn. (You can also follow our Seriously Social stories, videos and podcast episodes on social media – find all those links here.)
Paper Submissions Open: International Conference on Vietnamese Studies
The Vietnamese Academy of Social Sciences is calling for papers for their 6thInternational Conference on Vietnamese Studies on 15-16 July 2021. For more information see:
Feedback Wanted: The Future of Scientific Publishing
The International Science Council (ISC) is seeking feedback from the Academy on its report  ‘Opening the Record of Science: Making scholarly publishing work for science in the digital era’.  The report proposes a series of principles for scientific publishing, analyses the extent to which these are satisfied by modern publishing systems, and makes a series of recommendations for change.  If you would like to provide any feedback or comments on the report via the Academy, please
Intern Spotlight: Isabel Ceron
Photo of Isabel Ceron and her son
Isabel Ceron 

Where do you work?
I’m the single member of a secret cell of the Academy in Brisbane. Three days a week, I jump online to join the ASSA Policy team as a Policy Intern, under the guidance of Andi Horsburgh. I’m also finishing up my PhD thesis dissertation, a mix of urban planning and science & technology studies, at UQ. 

How long have you been working in the social sciences? 
Running the math to answer this question really got me thinking about age and death. I got my first job as a print journalist the year I turned 20, and that was 17 years ago (!) in Colombia, where I’m originally from. Years later I studied-then-worked as a strategic urban planner in Australia. All these years could count as social sciences, but it wasn’t until I started my PhD (in 2015) that I turned my interest more formally into academic disciplines and the social sciences as a ‘thing’. That is also how you regress to being an intern at almost 40. 

What does your work week look like? 
If you popped your head in my home office you’d probably feel pity for my soul hunching over a keyboard like the typical policy worker (doing some research, some project work, some writing). BUT! We’re working on a piece of work (the State of the Social Sciences 2021) that is deliberately aiming to shake things up and deliver an irresistible, perspective-shifting outlook on the social science ecosystem, so we’re actually having a lot of fun: formulating unexpected questions, charting new alliances, brewing tasty data, communicating through new channels and formats, tinkering with new technologies. There is such thing as high-adrenalin desk work. 

What’s your current focus (research or work related)? 
The State of the Social Sciences project, which I kindly invite everyone to read about on the Academy’s website. Right now, I’m looking into alternative structures for the report content, so it’s great timing for anyone with interesting ideas about high-value content to get in touch with the Academy’s Policy team. 
What do you like most about this project? 
It’s aiming for positive, lasting impact for Australian social sciences (so it’s work of the rewarding kind) and I’m surrounded by caring, smart, hardworking people. 

What’s the weirdest fact you’ve come across in your research for this project so far? 
The share of social science academics and students in the higher-ed sector is already so large (close to or above 50% in each case, compared to other discipline groups), I doubt it makes sense to wish for a greater share. For the social sciences the coming years might be more about keeping, than gaining ground. And yes…it’s weird what some people find weird. 

What can you be found doing outside of work? 
Trying out a new role-playing, board or x-box game with my six-year-old boy and (somewhat reluctant) husband. Giving meal planning yet another go. Failing consistently at crow pose. 

What is the one thing you cannot resist? 
Fairy floss. I wish I could say something that made me look more interesting, but fairy floss is probably it. 

Understand your world with Seriously Social
Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia
ABN: 59 957 839 703
Location: 26 Balmain Crescent, Acton, ACT 2601
Postal: GPO Box 1956, Canberra, ACT 2601
Tel: (02) 6249 1788

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