The ANU hosted the inaugural Battle of the Brains forum as part of its Open Day information session on the 29th of August. The event consisted of representatives from seven Colleges, who only had four minutes to convince the crowd that their discipline was the superior one. Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Professor Marnie-Hughes Warrington moderated the event, which showcased the wide range of possible paths at the ANU, and the passionate academics within them.
The first speaker, representing the College of Arts and Social Sciences, was Professor Will Christie. He emphasised his discipline’s exploration of the complexities and limitations of humanity, or as he stated, “love, money and nothing less than what we are.”
With Professor Christie’s speech running over the allocated four minutes, up next was Professor Michael Wesley, who was representing the College of Asia and the Pacific. Perhaps a little controversially, Prof. Wesley spent most of his time criticising the other disciplines for the current crises in the world rather than arguing for the merits of his own. He jokingly implored the crowd to “join us and fight stupidity..,know more to do more.”
Professor Shirley Leech had a different focus in representing the College of Business and Economics – one that focused on the significance and relevance of the field.
“Money does matter… most of the great things that happen in the world are because of money,” Professor Leech stated.
The first speaker to utilise props, Dr. NIraj Lal from the College of Engineering and Computer Science, used various objects to demonstrate the concept of electromagnetism. He also attributed survival to his discipline, stating, “our very existence was owed to engineering, more so than any other discipline.”
In a more humanities-based approach, Dr Ryan Goss from the College of Law spoke to the real life implications of the law. To illustrate his point, Dr Goss used the example of the High Court’s decision on same-sex marriage in the ACT, which has tangible effects of our society.
“The reasons [for decisions such as this] matter, and that is why Law matters,” Dr. Goss said.
Dr Anne-Sophie Dielen represented the College of Medicine, Biology and Environment. Dr Dielen talked mostly about her background, and stated that studying her field meant that “you too could work for more chips, more cider and more chocolate”, whilst helping people simultaneously.
However, it was Dr Brad Tucker, from one of the smaller colleges, the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, who ultimately won the debate.
“[You] actually get to make science fiction a reality”, he stated, winning the crowd over by giving examples of the fun practical aspects, such as shooting lasers into space.
Professor Warrington, ending the debate, got a laugh from the crowd by reinforcing the flexibility that the ANU offered.
“Do a flexible double degree and you’ll never have to choose!”