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About Des Griffin

I am a writer on education and current affairs including the environment, especially political debate about climate change, economics and especially on museums and leadership and related matters on which I conducted worldwide research from the late 1980s through 2002.

My book entitled Education Reform: the Unwinding of Intelligence and Creativity was published January 2014 by Springer. The book pays special attention to the impact that a student’s early childhood and socioeconomic status has on his or her educational achievement. It argues that discussions of education reform need a broader scope, one that encompasses a student’s background. Standardized testing, merit pay for teachers, and other issues supposedly increasing the the quality of the teaching and learning are reviewed and shown to be not relevant.

This book addresses the proposition that the future of education reform in Australia, and elsewhere, has to be tied to issues of community inequality which are the principal contributors to poor educational achievement. In other words, education is not the way out of poverty. Rather, a country’s education gains depend on reducing the country’s poverty and its impacts on families. Improving educational achievement needs ‘joined up’ solutions.

The book is available at the online retailer Fishpond and further details are available there. The book is available as an e-book at Springer where the complete book and individual chapters can be downloaded and abstracts of each chapter accessed.

I was the joint editor,  with Leon Paroissien, of the e-book ‘Understanding Museums: Australian Museums and Museology‘ published 2011 by the National Museum of Australia. The book includes 25 separate essays covering everything from a review of the Pigott Report, developments since 1970 in museums generally through progress in art, science and history, education and touring exhibitions, digitisation and social media.

I am currently Gerard Krefft Memorial Fellow, Australian Museum, an honorary position commemorating one of the early directors of the Museum. I retired September 1998 after 22 years as Director of the Museum. Prior to that I was a Senior Research Scientist at the Museum conducting research on marine science, particularly the biology of Crustacea. Some 60 papers were published resulting from that research. A number of genera and species have been named for me by other scientists.

Des Griffin September 2007I have had more than 30 papers published on management, leadership and policy in museums and on the return of cultural property. More recently I have written on  climate change, industrial relations, economics and education in the online journals New Matilda and On Line Opinion.

I have spoken at numerous international meetings, including the Museums Association (UK), American Association of Museums and Canadian Museums Association, on the role of museums, their management and related matters.

I have been involved in reviews of science and of museums including their programming and management; in 1998 through 2000 I led reviews of the exhibition program of the Melbourne Museum for Museum Victoria and of specific aspects of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa for the New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage. I have been involved in numerous committees and many semi-government or government advisory bodies concerning science and museum policy in Australia.

I was the Chairman of the Council of Australian Museum Associations Inc (CAMA) from 1988 through 1993 and the first President, until 1996, of Museums Australia (the single association representing museums of art, history and science). One of the achievements of CAMA and Museums Australia was the strong role played in the establishment and development of what became the Heritage Collections Council of which Australian Museums On-Line was a major component.

I was instrumental in the development, for CAMA and Museums Australia, of a policy on museums in Australia and indigenous peoples Previous Possessions, New Obligations (a copy of which is available in an Adobe Acrobat version from the Museums Australia site.) The policy contains 13 principles; legislation and policies covering similar areas exist in the USA and in Canada.

I was the George Fairfax Fellow in Arts & Entertainment Management at Deakin University, Melbourne in April 2002 and delivered the Kenneth Myer Lecture, ‘Entrepreneurship in the Arts, Entrepreneurship in Museums’ as part of that.

I was Chairman of the Arts Industry Advisory Committee for the University of Technology, Sydney from 1999 to 2009. I was a director of Viscopy, a company which seeks to protect and advance the interests of visual artists by licensing the works of artists, representing their copyright, moral and other rights from 2007 through 2012.

I was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) on 26 January 1990 in recognition of services to museums.

I was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of New South Wales in June 2014.