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Glyn Davis

Glyn Davis

Glyn Davis is Secretary, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. He is a former CEO of the Paul Ramsay Foundation and Distinguished Professor of Political Science at ANU. Previously he was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne (2005–18). His publications include The Australian Policy Handbook (Allen & Unwin, 2007) The Future of Australian Governance (Allen & Unwin, 2000), and Are You Being Served?: State, Citizens and Governance (Allen & Unwin, 2001). He gave the 2010 Boyer Lectures and has most recently published On Life’s Lottery (2021).

Glyn Davis reviews 'Britain's Europe: A thousand years of conflict and cooperation' by Brendan Simms

September 2016, no. 384 22 August 2016
For elections in Britain, the polling stations stay open until late, with counting through to dawn. So it was a sleepless night for many on Thursday, 23 June 2016 watching the Brexit referendum results on BBC1, its impressive graphics showing a divided country with cities supporting Europe, the countryside firmly against. As a new working day began, the count topped the 16.8 million votes required ... (read more)

Glyn Davis reviews 'Think Again' by Stanley Fish

March 2016, no. 379 24 February 2016
Should American academics boycott contact with Israeli universities in protest against events in Palestine? The issue has been fiercely debated at many American colleges, argued at meetings of the American Association of University Professors, dilated in the broader media. Those supporting a boycott, writes Stanley Fish in Think Again, rely on an expanded definition of the academic mission. Injust ... (read more)

Glyn Davis reviews 'The Global Republic' by Frank Ninkovich

May 2015, no. 371 27 April 2015
‘There’s a greater problem here. This is a president who won’t proudly proclaim American exceptionalism, maybe the first president ever who truly doesn’t believe in that … Look at his foreign policy. Doesn’t believe [in] America as a force for good, it doesn’t seem. Seems like instead, he believes in multilateralism as a goal, not a tactic. He allows foreign capitals to have veto pow ... (read more)

Glyn Davis reviews 'Poiesis: Manufacturing in Classical Athens' by Peter Acton

March 2015, no. 369 02 March 2015
On what terms should we interrogate the past? Ancient life can seem essentially unknowable, a place where everything is different, glimpsed only in the words of those who lived then and surviving traces of material culture. The Cambridge classical scholar Sir Moses Finley argued for an interpretation of ancient life bounded by then current civic and religious beliefs. Finley’s The Ancient Econo ... (read more)

Glyn Davis reviews 'Just Freedom: A moral compass for a complex world' by Philip Pettit

August 2014, no. 363 01 August 2014
In a recent Prospect interview, distinguished Princeton and ANU scholar Philip Pettit described political philosophy as a conversation around various themes. Some voices focus on power or freedom, others on democracy or the nature of the state. The conversation should extend beyond the academy, argued Pettit, to embrace public intellectuals, journalists, commentators, political scientists, activis ... (read more)

Glyn Davis reviews 'Fire and Ashes: Success and failure in politics' by Michael Ignatieff

May 2014, no. 361 29 April 2014
Knowledge gained through academic life is no preparation for political practice. So found Michael Ignatieff, the distinguished Canadian historian and public intellectual. In October 2004 he was teaching at Harvard University when approached by ‘three men in black’. These Liberal Party power brokers suggested Ignatieff leave the classroom and run for office. Fire and Ashes tells what happened n ... (read more)

Glyn Davis reviews 'The Making of Modern Liberalism' by Alan Ryan

November 2012, no. 346 24 October 2012
In a famous essay on poetry, English philosopher Michael Oakeshott evoked the metaphor of conversation to describe how people share and discuss ideas. A conversation, suggested Oakeshott, allows a continuous discussion between past and present, between the thought of earlier generations and the pressing needs of the present. A conversation is not a search for truth or even facts, but an endless di ... (read more)

Gyln Davis reviews 'What Are Universities For?' by Stefan Collini

May 2012, no. 341 24 April 2012
What happens if we take seriously the metaphor of a marketplace of ideas? Philosopher John Armstrong and economist Carsten Murawski recently tested that question in an article on, by exploring the implications of a market logic for higher education (20 March 2012).They argued that student choice would remodel the teaching and research agendas of our universities – not inst ... (read more)

Glyn Davis reviews 'Recollections of a Bleeding Heart: A Portrait of Paul Keating PM, Second Edition' by Don Watson

November 2011, no. 336 25 October 2011
Don Watson sits low in his chair, shy and silent when faced with a group of university administrators gathered to hear him talk about management speak – those weasel words that Watson has hunted down with grim enthusiasm. He speaks hesitantly at first, struggling to recall examples of misleading expression, evasive phrases, dishonest communication. Soon the rhythm quickens. There is indignation ... (read more)

Glyn Davis reviews 'Newman’s Unquiet Grave: The Reluctant Saint' by John Cornwell

February 2011, no. 328 01 February 2011
In October 2010 Hugh Brady, president of University College Dublin, sent colleagues around the world a copy of The Idea of a University(1854)by Cardinal John Henry Newman. As Newman approached beatification, President Brady recalled that UCD is the successor institution to the Catholic University of Ireland, which welcomed Newman as its first rector in 1851. Not many university leaders can aspire ... (read more)
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