What future is there for the past?
How do we ensure that new technologies enhance human flourishing?
How do we create more liveable cities through civic cultures?
What does the future have in store for the humanities, and what can the humanities offer the future?

The 50th Academy Symposium and free public events were held 13-15 November 2019 at venues around South Bank, Brisbane. 

The theme for the Symposium was ‘Humanising the Future’.

Powerful versions of millennial futures have excited, reassured and terrified populations for centuries. Today’s grand narrative of the age of robots, artificial intelligence and the fourth industrial revolution is framed both in terms of existential threat and revolutionary transformation.

The Academy’s 50th annual Symposium will explore the human dynamics by which the future has been imagined and brought into being; ask whether we can humanise the digital future; how we can build smart cultural cities; and consider prospects for the human, and the post-human, in our current epoch, the Anthropocene.

This event was open to all and bought together perspectives from philosophy and ethics, history, classics, languages and linguistics, urban planning, museology, architecture, cultural studies, musicology, and the creative and cultural industries.

Download the full program.

Podcasts and presentations available

The 50th Academy Lecture — Being Humane: A Contested History — by Professor Joy Damousi FASSA FAHA.

Opening key note presentation — Futures: The Re-formation of Knowledge — by Distinguished Professor Genevieve Bell FTSE.

Program convenors

The 50th Symposium was being convened by Professor Jean Burgess (Queensland University of Technology’s Digital Media Research Centre),  Distinguished Professor Stuart Cunningham AM FAcSS FAHA (Queensland University of Technology), Professor Mark Finnane FASSA FAHA (Griffith University) and Associate Professor Elizabeth Stephens (University of Queensland).

Our sponsors

We are grateful for the significant support from the following:

Co-Principal Sponsors
  • Griffith University
  • Queensland University of Technology
  • University of Queensland
Associate Sponsor
  • CQUniversity
Destination Sponsor
  • Brisbane Marketing

    Commemorative poster

    You are welcome to download the promotional poster.



    About the image

    Detail from Jon Cattapan’s ‘The Group Discusses’ (2002). Reproduced with kind permission of the artist.