UOW Senior Professor Simon Ville, pictured against a backdrop of book shelves. Photo: Paul Jones

Senior Professor Simon Ville to take up Australian Studies Chair at Harvard University

Senior Professor Simon Ville to take up Australian Studies Chair at Harvard University

Renowned scholar to bring historical focus to economic landscape between Australia and United States

The prestigious position of the Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser Chair in Australian Studies has, for the first time, been awarded by Harvard University to a University of Wollongong (UOW) scholar.

Senior Professor Simon Ville, a renowned historian in economics and business, will take up the role for the 2022-2023 academic year.

The honour will see him relocate to Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he will teach, deliver seminars, undertake academic research, and promote Australian studies at Harvard and universities throughout the United States.

Based in UOW’s Faculty of Business and Law where he is Associate Dean of Research, Senior Professor Ville has published extensively on big business, foreign investment, the primary industries, the history of transportation and trading, and the Vietnam War.

Senior Professor Ville said he was thrilled to learn he would take up the Chair, which has previously been held by, among others, Tim Flannery, Paul Kelly, Mick Dodson, and Alison Bashford.

“I am delighted to be offered this very special career opportunity and equally pleased for what it means for the University of Wollongong,” he said.

“This is the first time the appointment has gone to a UOW scholar, as commonly, the position goes to the Group of Eight universities.

“We are increasingly recognising the importance of America to the study of Australia’s past. Our experiences have stretched far beyond the British colonial connection. Spending a year at Harvard will enable me to understand more about our historic, as well as contemporary, relationship with America and to spread the message about how Australia fits into American perspectives.”

The Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser Chair in Australian Studies was officially established in 1976, a gift from the Australian Government to Harvard University in celebration of the United States’ bicentennial.

The position was renamed in 2010 in honour of two of Australia’s former prime ministers from opposing sides of politics, who brought to fruition this important initiative.

This sense of connection, of working together for the common good, resonated with Senior Professor Simon Ville.

“I consider myself a connector and bridge-builder among different academic disciplines and scholarly traditions,” he said.

“Foremost is bringing together economists and historians whose methods and perspectives are quite different, but I also work with the business disciplines, museum scientists, and social scientists in sociology, politics and anthropology.”

Senior Professor Ville will be located in the Department of History at Harvard but will also be involved in the work of their economics and history of science departments together with the Harvard Business School and the Museum of Comparative Zoology.

He previously visited Harvard Business School in 2012 as a Chandler Visiting Fellow.