Western’s research contributions highlighted in week of social sciences

Western Sydney University researchers and experts will participate in national Social Sciences Week 2020 by hosting a series of online events that will highlight the University’s leading and multidisciplinary social science research.

Held 7-13 September, this year’s initiative aims to connect the community with a range of social scientists, and will explore the latest research and findings on the global coronavirus pandemic and Australia’s summer bushfire crisis.

According to Associate Professor Kate Huppatz, Western Sydney University’s discipline lead in Sociology, Social Sciences Week is particularly important given the many challenging events of 2020.

“Western Sydney University is pleased to participate in Social Sciences Week. The Social Sciences are contributing to critical, well informed research that can help us make sense of the challenges we currently face, including why they have emerged and how we can find solutions,” said Associate Professor Huppatz.

“From the need for public health professionals to better communicate across a complex cultural landscape during the pandemic, to understanding the impacts of the summer bushfire crisis on certain sections of our population, social scientists are helping to address these issues.”

In one highlight of the week, Professor James Arvanitakis, who has just returned from the United States on a Fulbright Fellowship, will host a session with Professor Chris Fleming on a growing lack of trust in expert systems and emerging conspiracy theories across the globe.

“Conspiracy theories come in all shapes and sizes and can have a dramatic impact on our lives. In the US for example, QAnon has become a powerful conspiracy theory group that could well impact the 2020 elections. In Australia, we see people refusing vaccines and seeing climate change as a United Nations plot. Throughout history, conspiracy theories have shaped societies,” said Professor Arvanitakis.

As a partner, the University will host several interactive sessions across the week, including presentations, panel discussions and live Q&As:

  • 7 September, 1-2pm - A Sociology of Covid-19  The Journal of Sociology launches a special pandemic issue with Editors-in-Chief, Associate Professor Steve Matthewman and Associate Professor Kate Huppatz, and issue contributors, Professor Raewyn Connell, Emeritus Professor David Rowe, Professor Lyn Craig, Dr Simon Barber, Dr Sereana Naepi and Professor Robert van Krieken, reflecting on how the virus has both exacerbated inequalities and opened up opportunities for reimagining the social.
  • 8 September, 10-11:30am - Social Science Myth Busters by the BLab Coats Podcast Expert social science myth busters from the BLab Coats podcast, including Western Sydney University students, will tackle some burning, awkward and fascinating questions about life and society during a live podcast.
  • 9 September, 12-1:30pm - State Responses to COVID-19: Migrants, the Pacific and South Asia Associate Professor Nichole Georgeou will lead a panel discussion on the response strategies of different states and the evolution of crisis management in public health and national economies during the pandemic.
  • 9 September, 4-5:30pm - Social Sciences and Freedom of Speech Through a panel discussion and workshop, Professor Alphia Possamai-Inesedy, Dr Peter Bansel, Associate Professor Lucy Nicholas, Professor Adam Possamai, and Joshua Pitt, will debate societal tensions across academic and press freedom, religion, sexuality, entertainment, and race.
  • 10 September, 2-3.30pm - Australian Culture, Inequalities and Social Divisions: Class, Politics and Taste Professor Tony Bennett, Dr Michelle Kelly, Professor Greg Noble, Professor Deborah Stevenson, Associate Professor Liam Magee, and Emeritus Professor David Rowe, from the University’s Institute for Culture and Society, share research into the relationship between culture and society in Australia, challenging common claims that culture is just a matter of personal taste.
  • 10 September, 4-5:15pm - Conspiracy theories, US Elections and the future ahead Associate Professor Chris Fleming and Professor James Arvanitakis explore conspiracy theories during the global pandemic: from 5G to secret USA and Chinese military experiments.

For more information or to register to attend an event, please visit the Social Sciences Week website (opens in a new window).

Social Sciences Week is an initiative of several of Australia’s Social Sciences associations and is coordinated by the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia.


27 August 2020

Ali Sardyga, Media Officer