28 Mar 2024

News 2024

Monday Evening Seminars at Graduate House

Graduate House Seminars provide an edifying forum for a range of topics that, so far this semester, have proven both popular and stimulating for post graduate and undergraduate members of St Paul’s.

The first dinner seminar on 19 February was presented by Dr James Dunk a research fellow in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Sydney. His topic “Ecological anxiety and planetary mental health” explored the steep rise in anxiety caused by eco-anxiety, climate anxiety, ecological anxiety.

The second dinner seminar on 26 February was presented by old Pauline Dr Lukas Opacic on the topic “Religion, Public Reason, and Neutrality”. Lukas teaches constitutional law at Sydney Law School. He completed a PhD here in 2021 and has also taught constitutional law and jurisprudence at Macquarie University. He was a resident of St Paul’s 2011-13. His paper argued that public reason cannot form a fair basis for determining whether religious exemptions to laws of general application are justified. He created plenty of discussion amongst the jurors and philosophers in the room about partisanship. Lukas posed several questions including: should someone be allowed to discriminate in a modern liberal society? The discussion ventured into the space of religious law in places where there is no liberal democracy, as well as the tension between religious law and state law in places like India. The Q&A also drew out discussion about the benefits of widely held and wide-ranging public values in western-style democracies.

The third seminar on March 4 March with Prof Nick Enfield discussed the topic “Does language control you?”.  Nick is Professor of Linguistics at the University of Sydney. He is the author of the book “Language vs. Reality: Why Language is Good for Lawyers and Bad for Scientists”. Nick states, “we use language in all walks of life and it is like water for fish: it surrounds us but we are seldom aware of it.” He discussed some of the ways that people are both made by language and played by language. This produced some robust discussion and Nick concluded how language directs our attention and shapes our understanding of the world.

In week five the fourth seminar was held on 18 March. It was great to welcome our own Dr David Martinez-Martin who is one of the longest-standing members of Graduate House and is a physicist and innovator who has created multiple patented technologies that are already in commercialisation. David is Deputy Director of Sydney Microscopy and Microanalysis, co-chair of the sensors and diagnostics cluster of the Nanohealth Network and Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Sydney. In his topic “Along my journey of innovation”, David shared his passion and journey through the exciting world of creating and translating new technologies to addressing key scientific and technological gaps. He discussed how the application of some of these technologies has enabled him to discover new phenomena that challenge the status quo in areas of physics and cell biology, particularly regarding our understanding of one of the most basic processes of life: the regulation of a cell’s mass and size, a process whose dysregulation is linked to many disorders including cancers, hypertrophies, obesity, and aging.

The tremendous value of these seminars makes them a very popular part of the offerings of being a Pauline these days. They also forge a strong bond between academia, the College and the University. The seminars are open to all residents and guests. The programme continues during semester weeks on a Monday at 6.10 pm in the McCredie Room.