The End of Australian Studies?

An Australian university is apparently about to decide that Australian studies isn’t really a valid academic program. According to an article by Andrew Trounson in The Australian:

Falling student interest in Australian history at Melbourne University has prompted a review to recommend it scrap its Australian Studies programme for undergraduates.

“It is the view of the panel that Australian history subjects need to be designed that will attract a broader range of students,” it said. “Subjects which connect this country to the region and the world are more likely to draw numbers of non-arts students than those centred on the national narrative.”

The University of Melbourne isn’t the only school with this problem. The article reports that enrollment in Australian studies programs was declining at other universities across the country, because potential students view it “as irrelevant and focus on vocational subjects.”

Australian studies is the academic field of cultural studies of Australia. The field, which is often available only as a minor, has been around since many of these schools were created in the late nineteenth century.

The program review, by four international historians, recommends scrapping whole Australian studies programs and replacing them with “subjects such as Australian environmental history, which it said connects Aboriginal, economic and cultural history, and historical geography.”

Meanwhile, American studies programs are apparently still going strong over here.

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Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer