During the second half of 2014 and the first half of 2015 I was glad to be involved in the setting up of a new research institute in our Faculty. Dignified with the acronym IASH, which stands for the “Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities”, this new body was conceived of as a companion structure to the hugely successful Institute for Social Science Research, which was based in the old SBS Faculty that preceded the establishment of HASS Faculty and which is of course still very much with us. But what has all this got to do with our School?

On the face of it, very little. IASH, with research interests and strengths in European intellectual history (relating to the old CHED) and media and cultural studies (relating to the old CCCS), clearly articulates more with other Schools in the Faculty than with our own. And yet, as we know from the most recent ERA, more than 25% of research carried out in our School contributes to the field of research (FOR) code “Literary Studies” and still other research in the School aligns with “Philosophy and Religious Studies”. On these indicators, at least, a significant amount of research carried out in SLC occurs in areas that are now core research domains in the new institute IASH. IASH also plays host to Faculty Fellowship recipients, where staff get the chance to block off time for research in a normal teaching semester and to advance projects in an environment conducive to that purpose before their next sabbatical. IASH, in short, is likely to be a factor for us all one way or another in coming years.

The chance to play a role in the setting up of IASH over the past 18 months and to take on a leadership role from late next year is an opportunity that I have found too attractive to pass up. But stepping into a leadership role in IASH also means that I have been obliged to step down from the role of Head of the School of Languages and Cultures after what seems to me to have been a very quick and eventful three years.

In many ways I do so reluctantly. SLC is certainly in an exciting phase of its development: research is trending up in impressive ways, teaching remains vital and very strong, our governance structures have become tighter and more effective than in the past, our recruitment searches turn up better fields as talented new staff come on board. Recently we also ended a long period of internal discussion about workload. Apart from delivering us a better and more transparent workload model, that process, I believe, has seen us emerge as a more focused group overall. Challenges remain for us, of course, notably in some aspects of our work culture. Nevertheless, there have been conspicuous successes in recent years – successes we have achieved together as a School not just because we work harder or perform better against teaching and research targets but also because we are getting better at communication and have better avenues to facilitate it across the School.

Sometime in first semester 2016, then, we will welcome a new Head of School. As I prepare to shift into a new part of my own career at UQ, I have some cause for reflection. What is clear to me after three years at UQ is the gift I have enjoyed in working with talented, committed and conscientious academic and professional staff. I have valued the privilege of working with you all during this time. I now look forward to serving the University and the Faculty in a different capacity through my role in IASH and, closer to home, serving the School as a member of the German program and in any other way that might be required.


Tim Mehigan

Head of School