ACU honours Hendersons’ contribution to Civil Discourse

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Honorary Doctorates for (left to right) Anne Henderson and Gerard Henderson by ACU VC Greg Craven (right) PHOTO: Supplied

Australian Catholic University (ACU) has awarded esteemed  academics Gerard and Anne Henderson with honorary doctorates for their positive impact on how Australian history and contemporary public policy issues are understood and debated.

The award, presented by ACU Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Craven AO GSGC, in Sydney on Tuesday 6 October 2020, honoured the Hendersons’ contribution  through their  establishment of the Sydney Institute.  

The Institute was one of the first private forums for debate and discussion in Australia where diverse people from various political groups and interests could engage with each other in civility on matters of great importance – without ‘cancel culture’ and identity politics. 

“The Sydney Institute reminds us what a genuinely robust public debate looks like. It also serves as a reminder to universities about what the free exchange of ideas is meant to be about,” said Professor Craven. 

“It has become even more remarkable and more important in our divided age of cancel culture and deplatforming and tribalism, where the default towards disagreement for too many people – including those who shape public debate – is to screech and silence rather than listen and maybe learn something.” said Professor Craven pictured is image of radical protestors – an increasingly common occurrence in contemporary times in lieu of civil discussion

“It has become even more remarkable and more important in our divided age of cancel culture and deplatforming and tribalism, where the default towards disagreement for too many people – including those who shape public debate – is to screech and silence rather than listen and maybe learn something. “ 

a remarkable achievement

In congratulating the Hendersons, Professor Craven also said The Sydney Institute was a “remarkable institution and a remarkable achievement by allowing a platform for a panoply of topics ranging from politics to art. 

Dr Gerard Henderson began his academic career with a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws at the University of Melbourne, and a Doctor of Philosophy from La Trobe University, where he subsequently worked in the Politics Department and the Department of Political Science, then as a teacher and scholar at the University of Tasmania.

Raphael’s School of Athens in the Vatican Museum Public Domain

Dr Henderson also worked extensively in politics and governance with the position of private secretary to the Hon. Kevin Newman and later was senior private secretary to the Hon. John Howard MP. Dr Henderson has also served with the Commonwealth Department of Employment and Industrial Relations.

Anne Henderson has also played a role in the education of young Australians-  and refugees. With a Bachelor of Arts and Diploma of Education at the University of Melbourne, Anne taught in Catholic schools for 17 years while she also raised a family.

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