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NYU Sydney Screens Film Featuring Research of Biology Instructor Sean Blamires

On Wednesday 7 March NYU Sydney will be screening ‘Sixteen Legs’ an award-winning behind-the-scenes glimpse of the effort required to tell a natural history story with 7 years of filming, 27 years of scientific research and over 250 million years of evolutionary detail. The film features research conducted by NYU Sydney biology instructor Sean Blamires.

This is a nature documentary like no other. Featuring Neil Gaiman alongside appearances by Stephen Fry, Tara Moss, Adam Hills, and Mark Gatiss, and with a score co-written and performed by Kate Miller-Heidke, it will premiere in Sydney on 18 March.

In a special presentation of the short film, followed by a Q&A, the film’s co-director and writer will showcase how everything hinged on capturing one key sequence: the kinky mating of giant prehistoric spiders the size of a dinner-plate. Journey into a shadowy world of strange rock formations to meet animals that outlasted the dinosaurs, survived the splitting of the continents and that have endured the entirety of human civilisation in Australia’s deepest caves.

NYU Sydney Writing Lecturer Tim Ferguson Stages First Art Exhibition

NYU Sydney Lecturer Tim Ferguson, who teaches Comedy Writing to Tisch students in the Spring semester is staging his first art exhibition on Sunday 18 February at the Campbell Project Space.

The is the first 2018 Sunday arvo art event, a a regular program in the space. It features the premiere of a suite of artwork by Tim Ferguson. Tim is a well known Australian comedian and member of the comedy trio Doug Anthony All-Stars. A screenwriter, filmmaker and teacher of comedy screenwriting at NYU Sydney, Tim’s first exhibition of artwork is entitled ‘Gatherings’.

Tim explains, “I’ve nicknamed this genre ‘Disruptive Art’. As Uber is to taxis, disruptive art serves some of art’s functions without adhering to its more common forms. Disruptive art doesn’t wait at the ranks. It’s had no instruction. It borrowed it’s license from it’s sister.

“I deliberately place the joyous alongside the dark, the melancholic by the tortured, the lofty beside the dumb-ass. Each character is a world unto themselves, with no obvious casual link. Such is life.

“I hope the pictures are fun to look at, with fresh discoveries in every viewing. Or at least, an endlessly repeating fresh discovery.”

NYU Sydney Lecturer Abidali Mohamedali – Biologist and Entrepreneur Who Wants To Give Back

This month, NYU Sydney Lecturer Abidali Mohamedali was featured in Cosmos Magazine. The article focused on Professor Mohamedali’s research and teaching career, describing him as a biologist and entrepreneur who wants to give back.

For Professor Mohamedali, turning scientific discovers into business propositions is about driving understanding and benefiting people rather than acquiring wealth.

To learn more, read the full article here.

NYU Sydney Faculty Seeks to Increase Competencies with Diversity and Equity

Increasing competencies with Diversity and Equity has been on the key goals this year at NYU Sydney. This led to a series of Diversity and Equity meetings and a training session conducted by Dr Tim Marsh (NYU Sydney Lecturer: Social Psychology) and Dr Suraj Samtani (NYU Sydney Lecturer: Multicultural Counselling). Both academic staff and administrative staff participated in this training and meetings this year to increase awareness and skills with diversity. We hope to lead by example and put our skills into practice every day. Here are some nerdy highlights:

What do we know from psychology about biases?

The training session discussed how biases play a role in everyday interactions. The research from Social Psychology is that we have two distinct systems that influence biased thinking and behavior: System 1 (automatic, fast, not conscious) and System 2 (effortful, slow, conscious). We generally operate using System 1 which results in quick judgements and reactions that we are not necessarily aware of. It is only by being aware of our quick judgements that we can bring our behavior into consciousness and therefore, give it a different direction. Our System 1 typically reflects the biases inherent to the culture we live in and the media we consume, even if our System 2 would consciously reject them.

How can we know our own biases?

Instead of self-report measures (which assume conscious awareness), the staff were encouraged to find out their own biases using Harvard University’s Project Implicit. This involves a sorting task, where you must categorize both photos of people and either positive or negative adjectives. The website analyzes differences in reaction times in milliseconds and lets you know if you have biases and how strong they are. Staff were surprised to find the biases they held against those with different skin colors, sexual orientations and genders. Find out your own implicit biases here: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/

How can we change our biases?

In our increasing ‘curated’ online world, our sources of knowledge are funneled to match our existing preferences. Finding out where are biases lie is the most important step. Making changes to diversify the shows we watch, the websites we read, and the people we interact with, gradually adjusts our preferences in System 1, changing even our most subtle and unintentional behaviors and reactions over time.

How can we change our approach in class and in our teaching?

The syllabus is one of the key areas where we can change what we do. The training highlighted steps like representing cross-cultural sources of information in the syllabus. The staff shared ideas such as marking using student numbers instead of names, including photos of professionals who come from diverse backgrounds, managing which groups of students we stand closer to while teaching, and balancing out the amount of time given to male vs. female students when answering questions in the classroom.

Our challenge to you

Find out your own biases using the Harvard implicit project test, check your syllabus for cross-cultural references and investigate your non-verbal reactions in the classroom.

NYU Sydney Instructor to Judge Prestigious Australian Leadership Award

Last week, NYU Sydney instructor Dr. Andy West was invited to be a judge of the National Finals 2017 Australian Leadership and Excellence Awards (ALEAs), Australia’s peak awards ceremony recognizing and celebrating Australia’s most outstanding leaders. This is organized by the Institute of Managers and Leaders, which was previously the Australian Institute of Management. In addition to teaching at NYU Sydney, Andy is the Executive Dean at UBSS, an MBA Business School. He also lectures in the Department of Marketing at the University of Technology Sydney. He provides consulting services to the finance, professional services, ICT, higher education, and health industries. His research has focused on e-business adaption, marketing high technology, and marketing strategy. His recent research is into the early career success of marketing graduates, with a focus on the success factors of workplace integrated learning from simulation to industry collaboration projects with internships.

NYU Sydney Focuses on Career Development for Study Away Students

Throughout a study abroad experience, students are challenged to look within. Upon arrival, their maturity and independence is tested. This occurs from the moment they are introduced into their new environment. They are pushed to navigate unexpected cultural differences, adapt to a different culture, and problem solve when necessary. This experience teaches students essential life skills which can later be transferred into their professional life.

With this in mind, NYU Wasserman Center for Career Development and NYU Global Programs recently teamed up to host NYU Global Career Week. This week long event was filled with career development seminars and was hosted virtually and in-person. This event encouraged students to start thinking about how they can leverage their study away experience in their next internship or full-time position.

This past March, NYU Sydney hosted Allison Pirpich, Manager of Global Career Development, to led NYU Global Career Week on-campus. During this week, Allison hosted in-person seminars on a global job search, an U.S. job search, and Virtual Interviewing. Allison also hosted a lecture called, “Telling your Global Story,” to the academic internship course that showed students how to identify their skills and translate it to future, professional positions. These seminars showed students how their global experience can be translated to the experience section of their resume, examples in their cover letter, and answers to an interview question. Students learned the key to this process is making their study away experience relevant to the job description and needs of the employer.

In addition to these seminars, Allison met with students in one-on-one coaching appointments. Students brought in a wide-range of questions from, “I have no idea what I want to do after I graduate. How will I decide?” to “How do I search for my next NY internship from Sydney?” These conversations gave students the opportunity to learn what resources were available and how to create a strategy for their next career-related goal. These meetings continued after NYU Global Career Week with virtual coaching appointments and drop-in hours.

This event was accompanied by a Wasserman Global Peer, a student leader who was versed in resume creation, cover letter advice and knowledge of career development resources. This leader led a Resume & Cover Letter Workshop and was an in-person touch point for students throughout the entire semester.

Students often study abroad with the idea of living and working abroad in the future. NYU Global Career Week showed students how to make the case that their experience abroad makes them a valued and competitive candidate. It is important to prepare students with the confidence to demonstrate applicable traits in post-graduation job applications and in the real world.

NYU Sydney Professor Petronella Vaarzon-Morel Presents at the Federal Court of Australia and Keynotes Conference

NYU Sydney Professor Petronella Vaarzon-Morel, who teaches Anthropology of Indigenous Australia and Indigenous Australian Art, recently gave a presentation at the Federal Court of Australia as part of a tribute to the contribution of anthropologists to the development of Australian native title law over the last 25 years. Her presentation was on gendered relations to the land and native title business. She also gave a keynote at the annual ANU Centre for Native Title Anthropology Conference  in Perth which this year focused on emerging strategic issues in native title anthropology. The Centre for Native Title Anthropology aims to enhance the practice of native title anthropology in Australia through a series of innovative programs and workshops. The annual conference is a significant event.

NYU Sydney Faculty Explore Issues of Diversity with Monroe France


Monroe France with Yuri Ogura, Academic Programs Coordinator at NYU Sydney at Sydney Harbour.

By Marcus Neeld, Assistant Director, Student Life, NYU Sydney

Late last year, NYU Sydney faculty met with visitor Monroe France, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs & Diversity Initiatives. The meeting was the keystone event of Monroe’s invaluable trip to the Sydney campus, augmenting what had already been a jam-packed week of professional development experiences for administrative staff and informal engagements with students.

Monroe provided staff with some base tools in order to identify microaggressions along with strategies to practice allyship.

Town Hall meeting spurs broader dialogue on diversity

Concerns raised during a 2015 Town Hall event acted as a catalyst for NYU Sydney’s administrative team to apply for CMEP’s Global Diversity and Professional Development Grant. Eager to learn more about the experiences of minority students within the NYU community, the team lodged a request to learn more about ways to support students of colour and how social movements are affecting change on college campuses throughout the United States.

Faculty relished the opportunity to engage with Monroe, requesting the seminar focus on the efforts NYU is making to address matters of diversity, equity and inclusion. This request was made to discuss and formulate ways in which local instructors can enhance cultural competency and further support NYU’s institutional mission.

The training Monroe designed encapsulated themes of social identity, social justice and privilege. These topics were contextualised by a corresponding screening of portions from last year’s listening event. The clips shown of featured students provided a succinct focus on core topics central to the meeting, acting as an icebreaker for local faculty and staff to reflect on these important themes. As the meeting progressed it organically moved towards a discussion of individual teaching experiences and plans for future semesters.

The teaching staff were in consensus that future classes should act as an open, safe environment for students to discuss their salient social identity and preferred gender pronouns, a suggestion that Monroe recommended also be integrated into early semester introductions.

Social spheres and identities are malleable and non-uniform

Arguably the most compelling insight into matters of diversity and inclusion was offered by former NYU-Sydney student Ishani Dugar. The speech, which was performed during one of President Hamilton’s inauguration sessions, revealed misconceptions of universal communities. Ishani discussed original intentions to continue activism while in Sydney only to find that the local LGBTQ community was, although connected in solidarity, focusing on addressing different issues. The message served as a reminder of the nuances that exist between marginalised groups across the globe.

Marginalisation through multiple lenses

More broadly, the week’s training helped elucidate which groups feel marginalised at an institutional level. Familiar with local systemic oppression within an Australian context faculty were less attuned to the American experience. Monroe discussed student activism at NYU and progressive discourse as a result of the Black Lives Matter movement.

As the NYU-Sydney team prepare for future semesters, Monroe’s visit has provided a solid contextual framework to work within. Faculty will be encouraged to select reading materials that help students further interrogate social identity from an Australian perspective. With better understanding of the lenses visiting students employ to understand these issues through, the NYU-Sydney team will endeavour to create supportive environments and further opportunities for the examination of social identities from a global perspective.

How January Term is Redefining Education

This is a post from NYU Abu Dhabi. Although January Term originated with NYU Abu Dhabi, now other students in NYU’s global network, notably those from NYU Shanghai, have the opportunity to experience a January Term.

Education at NYU Abu Dhabi is not just about learning facts from textbooks and passing multiple choice exams. It’s an immersive experience for NYUAD students, who, each January Term choose hands-on classes in cities from Al Ain to Buenos Aires that challenge their perceptions of the past and enrich their visions of the future.

There are dozens of courses offered in J-Term that get students out of the classroom to learn about the world as it was before, and experience the world as it really is today, like Jazz or the Financial Crisis taught in New York City, Emirati Arabic in Al Ain, Museum History in Berlin, and these seven examples that span the globe. Note: course descriptions have been edited.


Oasis Coast and Mountain

Faculty: Steven C. Caton and Donald M. Scott
Course location: UAE and Oman

A course that challenges students’ perceptions of Arabian landscapes as being mainly desert by showing them three distinct habitat zones: desert oasis, maritime ports, and mountain farms all within 250 kilometers of each other across the UAE and Oman.

Students learn through observational site visits, direct encounters and interactions with local peoples and places through walking tours, interviews, photography and sketching.

Imagining the Renaissance City

Faculty: Jane Tylus
Course location: NYU Florence

Northern and central Italy’s bustling towns inspired many of today’s modern cities and also pioneered recognizably modern artistic, cultural, and engineering practices. Florence was a powerhouse of culture and industry and Siena the ‘Wall Street of Europe’ with the skyline to match.

Students spend three weeks getting to know these towns intimately. Explore downtown Florence, Siena, and the Tuscan countryside. Walk from the town of Fiesole (with its Etruscan ruins and Roman theater), to Monte Ceceri (from whose summit a student of Leonardo da Vinci’s tried to fly; good start, sad ending). Visit seats of government and Renaissance orphanages, climb towers for bird’s-eye views, prowl a crypt recently excavated under Siena’s cathedral, visit churches on hills overlooking Florence and the cells of monks, and walk the trail of the stonecutters to see where Michelangelo found his stone.


Coastal Urbanization

Faculty: John Burt
Course location: Sydney

Over 80 percent of the Australian population lives within 100 kilometers of a coast and virtually all major Australian cities occur on coastlines. As a result, Australia’s coastal environments have been substantially modified to suit human needs.

Using Sydney’s terrestrial, marine, and built environments as a natural laboratory for field research, students collect environmental data throughout the city and use geographic information systems (GIS) to examine the spatial patterns of human impacts to Sydney’s environment and compare their results with patterns observed in other coastal cities.


Faculty: Professor Michael Beckerman
Course location: Prague

Prague should have been destroyed during the Second World War, like other major cities in Europe, but somehow it wasn’t. Its remarkable survival allows us to explore Central European history and culture in the context of a completely preserved inner urban core dating back to the Middle Ages.

Class time includes walking tours around Prague, trips to museums, castles, theaters, classical concerts including Mozart’s Magic Flute and Janacek’s From the House of the Dead, and several excursions outside the city to the Eastern Province of Moravia, birthplace of Mahler and Freud, and to the UNESCO Heritage site of Cesky Krumlov.

Democracy and its Critics

Faculty: Philip Mitsis
Course location: Abu Dhabi / Athens

An examination of one of history’s most radical and influential democracies, ancient Athens.

Students assume historical roles in key decision-making institutions and debate questions about democratic procedures, the extension of voting rights, religion and free speech, foreign policy, etc., often in the very locations where these ancient debates occurred.

The Idea of the Portrait

Faculty: Shamoon Zamir
Course location: London

The course draws upon the rich resources of London’s museums and galleries to examine a wide range of portraits and self-portraits in painting and photography from different periods of history and from different cultures.

Students visit The National Gallery, British Museum, Tate Modern, Tate Britain, the Queen’s Collection, the Courtauld Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Victoria & Albert Museum, as well as the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

Creative Cities

Faculty: Arlene Davila
Course location: Buenos Aires

Latin America has been undergoing rapid urbanization and is increasingly recognized as a continent made up of “countries of cities,” yet the dominant Latin American image has been on indigenous or traditional communities, which are always imagined as rural and authentic, rather than modern and urbanized.

Buenos Aires provides an urban laboratory to explore culture in urban development, urban tourism, and the marketing and internationalization of tango. Guided tours and guest speakers enrich students’ appreciation of contemporary Buenos Aires.

Original post by Andy Gregory, NYUAD Public Affairs, available here.