Jubilee Fellow – 2015
Emeritus Professor Gus Sinclair
MCom (Melbourne), DPhil (Oxford)
At the time I was elected a Fellow, the Academy was a more informal outfit than it has now become. The annual get-together was a fairly leisurely affair with a less packed programme and a lot of free time between events. One consequence of this was, I think, that the Cunningham Lecture was more of an occasion than it is in its present position at the back of the seminar programme. Lectures given by K.S. Inglis and K.J Hancock come particularly to mind.
Since that time, there has been a quantum leap in the volume of research in the social sciences. Not only has there been an increase in the number of university positions in the social sciences but the universities have placed a greater emphasis on research. As a result, the social sciences have become more prominent in the national consciousness. The Academy can lay claim to having played a part in the increased recognition that social scientists have an important contribution to make to the policy debate.
From the point of view of my special interest, I am thankful that the Academy has helped to keep alight the flame of economic history at a time when there has been a decline in the teaching of the subject in undergraduate courses throughout the nation. It is gratifying that the Academy has continued to recognise quality research regardless of the vagaries of university course structures. In this regard, the launch of The Cambridge Economic History of Australia was also a welcome symbolic act.