Emilie Wells Emilie Wells
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Emeritus Professorship awarded to expert in dissent

Driven by an intellectual curiosity and a desire to do something useful for others, Professor Brian Martin is no stranger to controversy.

For his service and dedication to the University of Wollongong (UOW) and his outstanding contribution to scholarship, activism and advocacy, Professor Martin was today (Wednesday 1 November) admitted to the UOW Honorary list as an Emeritus Professor.

An accomplished thought leader, Professor Martin’s research spans the fields of peace research, science and technology studies, sociology, political science, media studies, law, journalism and education.

Beginning his academic career in Texas with a BA in Physics, Professor Martin attained a Master of Science (First Class Honours) and a PhD in Theoretical Physics from the University of Sydney, before taking on the role of research assistant and research associate at the Australian National University in Canberra.

In the late 1970s, Professor Martin became aware of several cases in which environmental scientists were coming under attack. It was at that point he started looking into the suppression of dissent, a topic that would change the course of his career and forge a new path exploring the ethics of science.

He joined UOW in 1986, producing a large number of high-impact academic publications which have subsequently been translated into 20 languages, and gained Professorship status in 2007, before retiring from the University in 2016.

“Retired means two things: one meaning is you’re no longer paid – you stop doing what you’re doing and put your feet up by the pool with a martini. The other meaning is you’re no longer paid but you keep working – which in my case means doing research projects and supervising PhD students,” he laughed.

Professor Martin has been a prominent supporter of academic freedom at UOW, and has contributed to research and commentary on dissent, free speech and whistleblowing.

“If an organisation is like a body, the whistleblowers are like the warning signals that something has gone wrong,” he explained.

“People running the show don’t want people speaking out about corruption and other serious problems, but the general public and the organisation would be better off if something was done about them.

“Allowing people to speak out is important to open debates.”

Professor Martin said the diversity of his career and the topics he has been fortunate enough to explore has kept things interesting.

“I enjoy lots of different things – the same topic would get boring. When I move onto a different topic I get a new lease of life, and then I can sometimes come back to the original topic with a fresh perspective,” he said.

Addressing the 230-strong crowd of graduates, Professor Martin’s advice was simple:

“Nearly everyone has the capacity to become exceptionally good. How do you do it? Practice, practice, practice, under the guidance of a good teacher or guide.”

Posted in Politics and Society
Tagged: graduation