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Royal Society of NSW News & Events

Royal Society of NSW News & Events

1258th OGM and open lecture

Pamela Griffith   “Women artists: barriers and frustrations”

   Pamela Griffith

   Artist, designer, master printer and author

Date: Wednesday 1 November 2017, 6 for 6.30 pm OGM and Open Lecture
Venue: Union, University and Schools Club, 25 Bent Street Sydney
Entry: $20 for non-members, $10 for Members and Associate Members of the Society, which includes a welcome drink.  Dress code: business
Dinner (including drinks): $80 for Members and Associate Members, $90 for non-members.  Reservations must be made at least 2 days before.
Reservations: https://nsw-royalsoc.currinda.com/register/event/38
Enquiries: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or phone 9431 8691
All are welcome.

Pamela Griffith will share some of the joys and challenges she has encountered as a female artist. Her talk will be illustrated by images of her work and some works of women artists of the past. 

Females are often the model and rarely the artist, and this has led to some offensive and exploitative works around the female subject matter that have coloured the way people see women in art. It has also affected how women see themselves. Pamela speculates on where historically female artists acquired their training and how they were assisted to have an art career by their families and patrons. She shows how they overcame social difficulties and barriers to making art. She tracks what happened to their art.

This presentation will attempt to explain art history’s omission of almost all women from its canon. There is an ongoing resistance of art museums to buying art made by women. Few women have solo shows before they are dead. Most women who go to art schools and make up the majority never have their work displayed in any big museums or bought for major collections. Does this mean that women at art schools are wasting their time?

Pamela Griffith is an an artist, designer, master printer and author. She has had over 100 one-woman exhibitions in over 30 galleries. Her work is included in National, State and Regional Gallery collections across Australia and in major corporate and private collections in Australia, Europe, USA and Asia. Major commissions include Bicentennial and Macquarie toiles; Mary McKillop toile; portraits of distinguished Australians such as Dame Joan Sutherland, Richard Bonynge, Sir William Dean, Cardinal George Pell, Professor Marie Bashir and Elena Kats-Chernin; numerous etching editions for corporations including Qantas, Comalco, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. She is also the author of over 80 articles and two books on art.

RSNSW and SMSA Joint Lecture Series: Is the Enlightenment dead? Lecture 2

Robert Clancy  “The freedom to use your own intelligence:
  the Enlightenment and the growth of the
  Australian nation”

  Emeritus Professor Robert Clancy AM FRSN
  School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy
  University of Newcastle

Date and time: 6 November 2017, 6.00pm drinks for 6.30-7.30pm
Venue: Mitchell Theatre, Level 1, Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt St, Sydney
Cost: $15 Fellows/Members, $20 friends and non-members per lecture
Registration: https://nsw-royalsoc.currinda.com/register/event/43

In this second lecture of the Enlightenment series Emeritus Professor Robert Clancy asks us to consider the fact that in little more than a century, a gaol established in Sydney Cove with 1000 souls joined the international stage as an independent Federated nation of in excess of three million – an unprecedented event in the history of man! This presentation explores the theme that the convict settlement was the ‘perfect storm’ to test the idea that the Enlightenment with its roots in late Middle Age Europe, and finding its expression in the Laws of Newton and the logic of Locke, created a confidence and capacity for humanity to achieve a new potential. Professor Clancy will first discuss the influence of the dominant contemporary ideas in science as introduced by James Cook and Joseph Banks and how this plays out in a young Australia in its impact on patterns of scientific development. Second, the self-belief and ‘have a go’ mentality reflected John Locke’s optimistic view of men and women forced to face and control extraordinary challenges not just to survive, but to create a new and independent society, based on science and the goodness of man. The question today is “have we lost that spirit of the Enlightenment to reactive conservatism?”

Emeritus Professor Robert Clancy has had a distinguished career as a clinical immunologist. He was awarded an AM for his services to immunology, as well as to cartography through his collection of early maps of Australia. He was Foundation Chair of Pathology at the University of Newcastle and the Director of the Hunter Immunology Unit.

Professor Clancy is a expert on medical history, with a particular focus on the history of infectious disease and immunology, including the impact of plague. He led the ASAEurope: the History of Medicine and Pharmacy tour in 2006, 2011, 2013 and 2015 and has developed a ‘History of Medicine’ course through the College of Physicians. Another area of expertise is cartography and he has written two books on the mapping of Australia and Antarctica (The Mapping of Terra Australis and So Came They South).

This series of five talks, co-hosted by the Royal Society of NSW and the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, brings together the two oldest institutions in NSW dedicated to education, the discussion of ideas, and discovery. The series is expected to initiate a period of interactive events and activities to the mutual benefit of both societies. The lectures will be presented by an outstanding group of experts in the field, with the topics chosen to represent a broad overview of the Enlightenment from its beginnings as the public recognised and discussed the meanings of change from a long period of mythology and dogma, to grasping reality and what that meant to them and their lives, to its impact on our society today.

The Enlightenment was founded on reasoned discourse and scientific enquiry, connecting with the idea of human equality and the rights of the individual. It was a powerful influence through disruptive revolutions in the 18th century on European and American societies. But what influence did it have on our Australian society, and the institutions entrusted to inform the population of new ideas and discovery? On a more concerning note, to what extent is Nobel Lauriet Joseph Stiglitz correct correct in his view that “Global deflation is reversing international progress through rejection of the principles of the Enlightenment”.

These five Lectures will capture the beginnings of the Enlightenment, its immediate impact on colonial Australia, and two portals of the Enlightenment and their adaptation to changes around them over 200 years. The series will conclude with an interactive Sophistry, taking the theme of the series, and discussing this in the context of contemporary Australian life.

 

Other lectures in the series:
Lecture 1: “Samuel Pepys, His library and the Enlightenment” by Susannah Fullerton OAM FRSN, author, lecturer and literary tour leader, 4 September 2017
Lecture 3: “Learning, adaptation and the Enlightenment: the museum” by Kim Mckay AO, Executive Director and CEO, the Australian Museum, 1 February 2018
Lecture 4: “Learning, adaptation and the Enlightenment: the library” by Paul Brunton OAM FAHA, Emeritus Curator, New South Wales State Library, 1 March 2018
Lecture 5: Sophistry – “Global deflation : The Enlightenment has failed!” by Scientia Professor George Paxinos AO FRSN, 5 April 2018

2017 Dirac Lecture

Dirac lecturer 2017
  Professor Boris Altshuler
  Department of Physics 
  Columbia University

Date: Monday 6 November, 6 to 7.30pm 
Venue: Ritchie Theatre, John Niland Scientia Building, UNSW
Registration: https://royalsoc.org.au/events-news/coming-events/2017-dirac-lecture
All are welcome

Professor Dirac gave five lectures which were published as a book Directions of Physics. He donated the royalties to UNSW for the establishment of the Dirac Lecture and Prize, which includes a silver medal and honorarium. It was first awarded in 1979.

The Dirac Medal for the Advancement of Theoretical Physics is awarded by UNSW in association with the Australian Institute of Physics NSW branch and The Royal Society of NSW. The Lecture and the Medal commemorate the visit to UNSW in 1975 of the British Nobel laureate, Professor Paul Dirac, who was one of the greatest theoretical physicists of the 20th Century.

Is the Enlightenment dead?

RSNSW/SMSA Joint Lecture Series

Diderot's Encyclopedie frontispiece
detail from the frontispiece of Diderot’s Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, 1772

Dates: see below

Venue: all sessions will be held at the Mitchell Theatre, Level 1, Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts, 280 Pitt St., Sydney

Time: 6 pm drinks, for 6.30-7.30 pm

Cost: $15 for SMSA & Royal Society Fellows/Members, $20 for non-members and friends (per lecture) — all are welcome

This series of five talks, co-hosted by the Royal Society of NSW and the Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts, brings together the two oldest institutions in NSW dedicated to education, the discussion of ideas, and discovery. The series is expected to initiate a period of interactive events and activities to the mutual benefit of both societies. The lectures will be presented by an outstanding group of experts in the field, with the topics chosen to represent a broad overview of the Enlightenment from its beginnings as the public recognized and discussed the meanings of change from a long period of mythology and dogma, to grasping reality and what that meant to them and their lives, to its impact on our society today.

The Enlightenment was founded on reasoned discourse and scientific enquiry, connecting with the idea of human equality and the rights of the individual. It was a powerful influence through disruptive revolutions in the 18th century on European and American societies. But what influence did it have on our Australian society, and the institutions entrusted to inform the population of new ideas and discovery? On a more concerning note, to what extent is Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz correct in his view that “Global deflation is reversing international progress through rejection of the principles of the Enlightenment”?

These five Lectures will capture the beginnings of the Enlightenment, its immediate impact on Colonial Australia, and two portals of the Enlightenment and their adaptation to changes around them over 200 years. The series will conclude with an interactive Sophistry, taking the theme of the series, and discussing this in the context of contemporary Australian life.

Lectures in the series:

Lecture 1: “Samuel Pepys, His Library and the Enlightenment” by Susannah Fullerton, on 4 September 2017

Lecture 2: “The freedom to use one's own intelligence: the Enlightenment and the growth of the Australian nation” by Professor Robert Clancy AM FRSN, on 6 November 2017

Lecture 3: “Learning, adaptation and the Enlightenment: the museum” by Kim Mckay AO, Director and CEO Australian Museum, on 1 February 2018

Lecture 4: “Learning, adaptation and the Enlightenment: the library” by Paul Brunton OAM Emeritus Curator, State Library of NSW, on 1 March 2018

Lecture 5:  Sophistry: “Global deflation: the Enlightenment has failed!” by Scientia Professor George Paxinos AM, on 5 April 2018

The Royal Society of NSW and Four Academies Forum 2017

“The future of rationality in a post-truth world”

Date: Wednesday, 29 November 2017, 9am–5:30pm (8:30am registration)
Venue: Government House, Sydney

Booking: not yet available

Outline (more details to come)

Rationality is one of the greatest steps forward in the development of human civilisation. What do we mean by “rationality”? It is an approach based on the philosophical proposition that reason rather than sense or belief is the basis for certainty in knowledge. It had its origins in ancient Greece, was rediscovered in the Renaissance and further developed in the Enlightenment. It is based upon the position that the human mind has the capacity to analyse data, extract meaning from it and to build a body of logically-consistent knowledge that we believe to be true, while accepting the ever-present risk of error. It encourages the critique and falsification of theories to develop, improve and refine knowledge continuously. Rationally-determined knowledge is one of the pillars of scientific enquiry and is a cornerstone of virtually all the institutions of modern, open societies.

“Post-truth” (the Oxford Dictionaries word of the year in 2016) dismisses rationally-determined knowledge. Rather, it appeals to emotion and personal belief and selectively picks information, true or not, to reach whatever conclusion is desired. It appears to have emerged from a once-fashionable but now largely discredited post-modernist position of “multiple truths”. These “alternative facts” are then used to shape public opinion, using whatever forms of dissemination are most effective, particularly those that make no effort to establish the veracity of the information that they distribute.

Rationality and, in particular, the scientific method is under attack. How can and should we respond? We live in a world in which people have ready access to all kinds of information, misinformation and deliberate lies, through social media and online search engines. People can know more but also not know more, as truth and fact are increasingly drowned out by an avalanche of lies and distortions. The algorithms of Google and Facebook and their like lock us into knowledge bubbles of truth and lies that pander to our prejudices. Experts are no longer experts but another opinion, another form of advocacy from a lobby group of evidence-based ideologists feathering their own nest. Evidenced-based advice and action are reversed and the fundamental tenets of science are being questioned. Ideology and prejudice drive evidence and selectivity. Has the world gone mad? Is the world any different to the past? Has human nature and the way we perceive and respond to the world changed? Or are we just seeing human behaviour manifested in different forms in the modern social context? What can and should we do about this?

These are the issues to be addressed at this year’s Forum of the Royal Society of NSW and the Four Academies. In particular, the 2017 Royal Society of NSW and Four Academies Forum will examine the implications of the rise of a post-truth approach to shaping public opinion. Does it, as some claim, have the potential to undermine the institutions upon which open, democratic societies are built? Does it advantage the propagandists and those who wish to pursue sinister agendas? What responsibilities do the media (in particular, the newly emerging mass-media) have in presenting information to the public? What should – or can – those who believe in evidence-based, objectively-determined policy do about it?

Royal Society events

The Royal Society of NSW organizes a number of events in Sydney throughout the year.  These include Ordinary General Meetings (OGMs) held on the first Wednesday of the month (there is no meeting in January).  Society business is conducted, new Fellows and Members are inducted, and reports from Council are given to the membership.  This is followed by a talk and optional dinner.  Drinks are served before the meeting.  There is a small charge to attend the meeting and talk, and to cover refreshments.  The dinner is a separate charge, and must be booked in advance.  All OGMs are open to members of the public.

The first OGM in February has speakers drawn from the Royal Society Scholarship winners, and the December OGM hears from the winner of the Jak Kelly award, before an informal Christmas party.  The April event is our black-tie Annual Dinner and Distinguished Fellow lecture.

Other events are held in collaboration with other groups, including:

  • The Four Societies lecture (with the Australian Institute of Energy, the Nuclear Panel of Engineers Australia [Sydney Division] and the Australian Nuclear Association)
  • The Forum (with the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering, the Australian Academy of Science, the Australian Academy of the Humanities and the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia)
  • The Dirac lecture (with UNSW Australia and the Australian Institute of Physics)
  • The Liversidge Medal lecture (with the Royal Australian Chemical Institute)
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