Elsie Leask, 2020 CHASS video submission

(Illustration : Cathy Wilcox, courtesy SMH)

Each year CHASS Australia Prizes honour distinguished achievements by Australians working, studying, or training in the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HASS) sector, including academics, researchers, practitioners, philanthropists, policy makers, and students.

In 2020 Elsie Leask entered the 2020 CHASS Prize for a Student in the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences submission, although she was not awarded the prize, we believe her sentiments convey an important statement.

You can read Elsie’s Discussion Paper HERE Aere Perennius – If Each Action Has an Equal and Opposite Reaction, What is Held in the Future for the Humanities?

Video submission by Elsie Leask for the 2020 CHASS Prize for a Student in the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences. Elsie is a third year UON student of a Bachelor of Secondary Education (Humanities) and entered this video essay to the Council of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (CHASS) in July 2020.

CHASS Video Transcript

The Government has announced that University course fees for areas such as agriculture, education and mathematics will be dramatically reduced. However, course fees in the humanities are set to skyrocket to almost double their original cost for future students. Clearly, this decision can be seen as a blatant attack on the already suffering subject areas.

Surely The Melbourne Declaration’s hopes of “all young Australians (becoming) active and informed citizens” still stands and is applicable to tertiary students. Perhaps education after the nineteenth of June 2020 saw that this “active and informed” found the humanities, arts and social sciences inapplicable.

Historian Edith Hamilton tells us that “men are bound to act in the same way unless it is shown to them that such a course in other days ended disastrously” (Hamilton, 140). This is one of the reasons for which history is so important: by gaining an understanding of the past, we can be better prepared for the future. Studies in history help us to understand where we have been which allow us to comprehend where we are now.

I wish to communicate my profound concern for the seemingly strategic limiting of opportunities for further study in the humanities. If the recent movement to double the cost of study isn’t a nail in the humanities coffin, I don’t know what is. But surely we will see a great resurgence of interest in one of the most important aspects of human existence- understanding where we have come from and why this is important. After all, the humanities, arts and social sciences are aere perennius.”

Video was recorded at the GLAMx Living Histories Digitisation Lab, University of Newcastle (Australia) on 10 July 2020.

Courtesy : Elsie Leask

Other Sources –  “A world without arts makes life grey and dull”, Sydney Morning Herald, 25 June, 2020.

Special thanks to Dr Elizabeth Baynham, Snr Lecturer HASS


Dr Ann Hardy

Coordinator GLAMx Lab

Auchmuty Library



2 thoughts on “Elsie Leask, 2020 CHASS video submission

  1. The sooner young minds such as Elsie replace the fossilised minds in Parliament, the better will be the future for all… although many with promise lost their way when confronted by the Mighty $!!!

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