The importance of life-long learning, of listening, and the consensus of experts were among the key messages from Burnet Director and CEO Professor Brendan Crabb AC to new Doctors of Philosophy at Melbourne University.
In his ‘Occasional Address’, Professor Crabb urged the 117 graduates drawn from all disciplines at the university not to regard their qualification as an end to learning, but an important step in the path to knowledge.
“Life-long learning promotes humility and wisdom,” Professor Crabb said. “Humility promotes further receptiveness to knowledge, and wisdom fosters better decisions.
“Life-long learning is characterised by listening more than talking … and by being genuinely interested in everyone.”
Professor Crabb also stressed the value of generic skills, which he said, in the long run, would provide the graduates with many more life and career options than their particular academic qualifications.
“These include critical thinking, being able to interpret and process large amounts of information, communicating effectively and valuing the consensus of experts more than your own instinct,” he said.
“These generic skills are why there are a wide array of job prospects out there for you, ones that are different from the specifics of whatever it was that you are now expert in.
“These same generic skills are a powerful antidote to the ‘interesting’ times we are now living in, where the prevailing view on some issue may be very different to what the best available evidence actually says.
“The community needs people with your dispassionate analytical skills to identify and communicate the best available evidence in a particular area, because it can be hard to find in a fast news cycle, social media-oriented, advertising-dominated and easily exploited world.”
Professor Crabb concluded by reminding the graduates that their skills are desperately needed to help promote and distinguish the facts as determined by experts from the fiction the community often receives.