The inaugural DASSH Awards for Leadership in Excellence and Innovation have been introduced to recognise the outstanding work of staff in Australasian humanities, social sciences and arts faculties each year. The Awards celebrate the efforts of those involved and promote their achievements across the region, with the aim of inspiring new initiatives and sharing best practice approaches in our member faculties.
The DASSH President Catharine Coleborne and the full Board commend the following five winners for displaying excellence in their field. The winners have demonstrated outstanding work with significant impact among a very competitive field.
Awards have been be granted for discrete initiatives or achievements led by the nominee in the year prior to their nomination, rather than career excellence. The initiative highlight the value and necessity of excellent leadership within university divisions.
The Awards are offered across six categories:
- Engagement and Public Communication
- Education Innovation and Employability
- Professional Development
- Research Partnership and Social Impact
Winner: Education, Innovation and Employability
Excellence, as demonstrated by measurable impacts of an initiative led by the nominee which reflects innovative and effective approaches to learning and teaching practices within a HASS discipline, department of faculty. Learning and teaching is defined broadly and includes undergraduate, postgraduate and research student instruction or supervision, all modes of course delivery, and work-integrated learning (WIL) initiatives as well as employability programs. Innovation, as demonstrated by the creativity and/or novelty of the initiative led by the nominee.
DASSH commends Dr Karen Sutherland, Senior Lecturer in Public Relations at the University of the Sunshine Coast, for the suite of Work Integrated Learning (WIL) opportunities she has developed for students in the School of Business and Creative Industries. Dr Sutherland’s impact is at scale: she has connected 450+ students with 450+ businesses over the last six years, ranging from large international companies to significant local organisations. The excellence of the initiative has been recognised with several awards and fellowships. The innovation in Dr Sutherland’s approach is evinced by a deceptively simple diagram, the “Real World Experience Spectrum,” which identifies a range of opportunities that move from the relatively low-threshold guest lecture through excursions and field trips (near the middle of the spectrum) to internships, and ultimately being a social media agency owner. Sutherland’s Real-World Experience Spectrum codifies opportunities so that the high-quality WIL she offers to her students can be extended to others.
Winner: Engagement and Public Communication
This award aims to recognize excellence in public engagement and communication by HASS academics with one or more non-academic communities or makes a significant contribution to public debate. Innovation, as demonstrated by the creativity and/or novelty of the initiative led by the nominee which improves engagement with non-academic communities, particularly communities which have had minimal or poor historical engagement with HASS academics.
The DASSH Award for Engagement and Public Communication recognizes excellence in public engagement and communications by HASS academics who meaningfully engage with communities outside of the higher education sector or who make a significant contribution to public debate.
This year, the award goes to Associate Professor Grant Duncan (Massey University, New Zealand) who has designed and led innovative online surveys in collaboration with leading national news agency Stuff.co.nz to test the mood and opinions of the public prior to both the 2017 and 2020 elections in the interests of informed democratic debate. These surveys and subsequent commentary both stimulated participation in the electoral process and generated impact through nation-wide discussion of concerns relevant to the election campaigns.
The Stuff.co.nz / Massey University Election Survey was an online readership-engagement survey designed to provide insights into the issues of importance to New Zealanders, to uncover underlying concerns around leadership, trust and the political system, and to stimulate public engagement with the political process.
Excellence, as demonstrated by measurable impacts of an initiative led by the nominee which aims to improve the representation, inclusion, and contribution of Indigenous peoples of Australia and/or Aotearoa/New Zealand in the work of HASS faculties. Innovation, as demonstrated by the creativity and/or novelty of the initiative led by the nominee.
During 2020, Distinguished Professor Maggie Walter led an initiative to ‘Indigenise’ the curriculum through embedding Aboriginal knowledges and perspectives, with particular focus on Palawa heritage and community as the traditional custodians of Lutruwita/Tasmania. Central to the endeavour was the redesign of the popular first-year ‘Lifeworlds’ unit, creating Social Sciences and Humanities versions, that share content. All students in the Bachelor of Arts had the opportunity to count the unit towards a major or take it as an elective. Among other things, students participated in an on-Country field trip two sites of historical significance to the brutal dispossession and invasion of land. Elders and knowledge holders from the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community shared customs, stories and songs with students, providing personal and physical context to the Lifeworlds concept. Professor Walter advanced the representation, inclusion, and contribution of Palawa people and knowledge to Humanities and Social Sciences within the University and the wider Tasmanian Aboriginal Community. Her initiative received coverage from ABC News, The Conversation and other national and social media, including a televised interview.
Excellence, as demonstrated by measurable impacts of an initiative led by the nominee which aims to improve the international connections of a HASS faculty, discipline or team. Innovation, as demonstrated by the creativity and/or novelty of the initiative led by the nominee.
Professor Lupton’s ‘Doing fieldwork in a pandemic’ is a highly innovative project that not only has provided a wonderful set of resources for scholars around the world but has shone a light on the creativity and capacity of HASS researchers in Australia and New Zealand. The panel was particularly impressed with the way in which she drew together and coordinated a diverse set of contributors from an impressive set of institutions to create a multi-platform project of significant impact internationally. It has excellent prospects to continue to drive innovative work and to foster transnational and cross disciplinary work. The impact is strongly supported by evidence and shows the global potential for HASS researchers based in Australia and New Zealand. This is a great project and a worthy winner of the inaugural International category of the DAASH Awards for Excellence.
Winner: Research Partnership and Social Impact
Excellence, as demonstrated by measurable impacts of an initiative led by the nominee which through a partnership with a non-university group has had a demonstrable positive social impact on a community. Innovation, as demonstrated by the creativity and/or novelty of the initiative led by the nominee.
Excellence in innovation and research in archiving indigenous languages underpins Associate Professor Nick Thieberger’s work which is founded on partnerships with cultural agencies across the Pacific. The collection of archival work developed by the Pacific and Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures, for which Thieberger is Director, has been included by UNESCO in their mapping of Australia’s Intangible Cultural Heritage. The funding trajectory and international awards for this work are strong indicators of excellence together with the wide range of data sources that have been included from different research projects and communities. The research projects in indigenous languages have opened up networks for other researchers and communities across the Pacific making possible international collaborative opportunities via different funding sources. Providing access to source communities has been a hallmark of the partnerships for Thieberger’s research including the use of Raspberry Pi computers using local wifi networks. Associate Professor Thieberger’s most recent work includes the development of Nyingarn, a platform for primary sources in Australian indigenous languages, with that research team funded by an ARC LIEF grant.