The Victorian Chapter of the AFAA held an enjoyable group get-together Thursday June 15th in the Leather Room, Melbourne University House. Melbourne University
Vice Chancellor’s office has generously made this room available for quarterly AFAA meetings throughout 2017. The meeting, held around the fireside, was attended by two US scholars, Shruti Gujaran and Raechel French and Fulbright alumni across various disciplines, including law, education, music, public health, gerontology and community engagement. The active participation by the Acting Consul General, Mr. Ron Lay and Cultural Affairs Officer, Ms. Kelli Long of the US Consulate was greatly appreciated.
In the first part of the meeting Dr Elizabeth Brooke (Victorian Chapter President), reiterated values contained the higher education conference keynote address by Ambassador (ret.) Jeff Bleich (march 3rd 2017). This speech contains a profound and comprehensive analysis of recent US political events and proposes an inspirational platform for future action. It emphasizes the role of universities and importance of certainty, analysis and education in dealing with political and social futures.
Dr Iain Butterworth, National AFAA president outlined recent AFAA developments and future plans for a national conference in November (watch the website for the launch of this event shortly).
In the second part of the meeting, the presentations of the US scholars combined science and humanitarian concerns which absolutely validate the intent of the Fulbright Scholarships. The US scholars showed the potential in their projects of expanding to cross-cultural domains applied in different communities. The discussion revealed crossovers between their interests and those of participants, notably in education, public health and building liveable and safe communities.
Shruti Gujuran’s project, based at the University of Melbourne focused on antibiotic resistance in hospital-acquired infections under the direction of Professor Richard Strugnell. She reported that her visit exceeded her expectations and she has expanded the application of her project to include indigenous, refugee and local volunteer projects concerning health care and educational disparities. Shrutri has completed her Fulbright scholarship and is currently returning to the US.
Raechel French’s research as an educational space planner is focused on designing school environments. Her architecture background has been fused with human-environment relations focusing on facility planning and management. In her work she aligns a school's pedagogy, its organisational structures and its spatial design. While in Australia, she is working on an ongoing ARC Linkage Project, Innovative Learning Environments and Teacher Change. Raechel is at the midpoint of her Fulbright Scholarship.