As I write these season’s greetings to you, I am reflecting on the very successful biennial symposium of the Australian and New Zealand Associations of von Humboldt Fellows held at Macquarie University on 22-24 November. With 125 participants and an imaginative and engaging program under the title of Sharing Knowledge in the Spirit of Humboldt, the conference sought to address pressing challenges of research communication, dissemination and impact. It did this exceedingly well, with demonstrable engagement of the sciences and humanities with one another and a strong multicultural focus. On behalf of the Australian Association, I thank Professor Ingrid Piller, conference convenor, and the two conference committees for the months of work that they put into planning and organising the symposium and Macquarie University for its warm hospitality to the Humboldtians.
The invitation to have the 2019 colloquium at Macquarie University was issued by Humboldtian Professor Sakkie Pretorius, the University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research). Let me also express our appreciation to him for the opportunity to gather at Macquarie University and to learn something of its environs and academic specialities. The latter includes the very dynamic Department of Linguistics, to which Professor Piller belongs, and the impressive students from the Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies who offered us a recital on the Friday evening.
At the Australian Association of von Humboldt Fellows (AAvHF) biennial general meeting on the Saturday afternoon, two proposals for hosting the 2021 colloquium were received from members of the Association, namely one from universities in south-eastern Queensland and the other from Deakin University. Members voted to have the 2021 biennial meeting at the Deakin University waterfront campus in Geelong and expressed appreciation to Professor Jean Du Plessis and Deakin University for the invitation to the Australian and New Zealand Associations. Brisbane is now a likely venue for the 2023 gathering.
At the biennial general meeting members noted that neither the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation nor the Australian Association of von Humboldt Fellows are well known in Australia. They explored options for promoting them in the Australian context. One suggestion was to set up a Twitter account ― it would be good to send your views on this to the AAvHF webmaster, Dr Nathan Kilah: email@example.com. You are also strongly encouraged to send material to Dr Kilah for the Association’s website so that it is kept up-to-date and relevant to our members and those seeking information on the AAvHF. Articles and photos recording Association events, like the annual Humboldt birthday dinners, German Week in Brisbane and Falling Walls in Canberra, and also awards to Association members and other such achievements would be most welcome.
The 2019 symposium was a Humboldt Foundation Kolleg generously supported by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation-Stiftung. The Australian and New Zealand Associations were delighted to have Dr Katrin Amian, Head of the Division North America, Australia, New Zealand and Oceania at the Foundation, attend the symposium. She addressed the meeting on the Foundation’s continuing and new programs, and we were able to ask her to convey our appreciation to the Foundation for its generous sponsorship of the biennial gathering.
Following the symposium, Dr Amian made visits to Canberra and Melbourne to meet with university and government stakeholders. In Melbourne she made a presentation on the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation at both the University of Melbourne and RMIT University. I joined Dr Amian at both universities and at the former delivered a paper on Alexander von Humboldt, Humboldt Today: A Tribute on the 250th Anniversary of His Birth.
An impressive new biography of Humboldt was promoted during the symposium. For those attendees seeking details of it, these are as follows: Andrea Wulf (2015) The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World, New York: Knopf.
The biennial general meeting elected the following committee with designated roles as indicated. I express our appreciation to them in advance for supporting and promoting our Association and Australian-German partnerships during 2020-2021:
|AAvHF Executive 2020-2021|
|Australian Capital Territory representative||Hans Bachor|
|New South Wales representative||Glen Wheeler|
|Northern Territory representative||vacant|
|Queensland representative||Thomas Haselhorst|
|South Australia representative||Peter Hochs|
|Tasmania representative and Webmaster||Nathan Kilah|
|Victoria representative||Sarah Turpin-Nolan|
|West Australia representative||Walter Bloom|
|Member of the executive (immediate Past President)||Rob Robson|
|Member of the executive||Peter Jarvis|
At each biennial colloquium the AAvHF presents the Peter Schwerdtfeger Award, which recognises the academic or professional achievement of an early-career AAvHF member, and up to two Distinguished Fellow Awards, which are bestowed on more senior AAvHF members who have excelled in their professional field and/or have provided significant service to the AAvHF. Nominations are considered by the AAvHF awards committee. I acknowledge with gratitude the work of the 2019 AAvHF awards committee with membership of Professor Kathy Andrews (Griffith University, chair) and Professors David Black and Roger Read (University of New South Wales).
The awards were presented at the symposium dinner by Consul General Peter Silberberg from the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany in Sydney. The recipient of the 2019 Peter Schwerdtfeger Award was Dr Ravichander Babarao of RMIT University and Distinguished Fellow Awards were received by Associate Professor Kay Double of the University of Sydney and Professor Jeffery Malpas of the University of Tasmania.
Further details of activities of the Association and members in 2018-2019 can be found in my biennial report to the above-mentioned general meeting which is accessible at: https://www.humboldtaustralia.org.au/presidents-report-biennial-meeting-australian-association-of-von-humboldt-fellows-sydney-23-november-2019/.
This year the members of the executive have again provided generous and valued support to the Association and I express our appreciation to them. I highlight, in particular, the very considerable contributions of Honorary Secretary Associate Professor Finlayson and Treasurer Professor Gary Bryant.
May I take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones peace and joy this Christmas and a good New Year with blessings in abundance,
Gabrielle McMullen AM
President, Australian Association of von Humboldt Fellows