UQ – change and climate change
Sunday, October 31, 2021, 10:00 am
Summary statement by Lee Duffield
The main way to serve UQ now is to always work towards the future.
We can practice ‘good’ conservatism by not throwing away what is properly valuable, like the heritage of learning and community linked to the Union complex – part of the UQ campus that has been under threat.
However, good as UQ is, an excellent place to be, I cannot really join in the kind of forced orthodoxy that says it is a demi-paradise, as in the websites and TV advertisements — everybody constantly smiling.
For participating in the Senate I would see it as not singly a pleasure park for ourselves but a field for addressing important questions of policy.
Times of crisis
In times of crisis especially, (with COVID, or collapsing budgets), you need to be prepared to face up to change; and getting back to first impressions when this election process first opened, the conclusion is the same:
In the current elections to the UQ Senate we have an embarrassment of choice among well-credentialled candidates able to easily handle the briefing papers and contribute through committees. Yet the chief issue that emerges is, whether to (a) retain the present elected members of the Senate, and status quo, or (b) support the kinds of concerns I have been raising in these messages.
You do not need Superman x-ray vision to see into the well-kept buildings, and observe real issues being worked out, like how much priority to be given to the core business of teaching and research.
I say give those very high priority – more than in recent years.
For that reason, as said often, I have criticised the drive to corporatise the universities. They are different to ordinary business corporations because they produce knowledge, and to make a quality ‘product’ you need good academics in good jobs operating with good autonomy.
On the Senate it begins with getting information, with questioning, ensuring different viewpoints get considered.
These were produced when I contested the Senate election last time, coming fifth for one of the three positions; sad to say things have not changed except to get worse.
Climate change, the university and thinking about the future
This is an example where engagement of active UQ Senate members can be productive:
The intensity of the global crisis on climate is currently being demonstrated at the world meeting in Glasgow and it is an immediate concern for the university.
Most of the institutions of the country – business and industry bodies, unions, principal parties not in the federal government – and most of the public want strong and effective action on climate change.
Universities overall have been conscientious about their own carbon footprint and general environmental care, e.g. protocols for dealing with chemicals.
That needs to be extended, so that work on environmental applications is incentivised and becomes central across all of the main activities of UQ:
- in the teaching curriculum,
- in research, and
- also as part of the investment policy of the university. On investment I would speak up in support of a standard being followed on sustainability and a strict line excluding any new investments linked to environmental destruction.
That is where I believe that generally my voice should be: ensuring the university deploys its great resources of knowledge and skills to provide a lead for society, and the best service and best solutions. The Australian public set up the universities first-and-foremost to get high-order knowledge and expertise, good enough to save the country in a crisis. That should be treated as an instruction and a guideline.
Elected to the Senate I will regularly report back and invite your participation.
Lee Duffield is a candidate for the election of three members of the UQ Senate by graduates. Electors receive their ballots by email on 1st November 2021 and the voting goes on for two weeks. For information see the UQ elections website – University elections – Governance and Risk – University of Queensland (uq.edu.au)
For graduate members, please support Lee Duffield and Hamish Greenop-Roberts