Open discussion on the evolution of Australian and New Zealand Thought

Friday, 9 November 2007

University of Newcastle, Cyril Renwick and the Hunter Valley Research Foundation

Musing, I was preparing some very basic historical material on Newcastle University, just a few dates really. However, this got me thinking on some broader issues.

I have begun a series on the University of New England and its contribution to Australia's intellectual tradition. But what about Newcastle?

The roots of this university date back into Australian industrialisation during and after the First World War. This is a university established in a truly industrial centre. How did this affect it?

Like New England, it had an extension and development role in its immediate environment. Professor Renwick and the Hunter Valley Research Foundation are the classic example. But beyond this?

Still on Professor Renwick, school text books can tell us a lot about thought at the time the book was published. Books are linked to curriculum determined by education authorities as well as the author's own views.

Professor Renwick's 1958 book The Economic Pattern An Elementary Text-book for Australian Readers (Longmans Green and Co) was the NSW economics text book for a number of years.

I remember this book. Modern readers would, for example, find its discussion on the institutional role of the union movement strange. It is a snapshot into a different, more polite, Australia.

None of this is very profound. But I would be interested in hearing from readers who can extend the Newcastle story.

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