Historians are researchers and they are also communicators. Both roles are intrinsic to the profession. Without original research an historian has nothing to contribute to our understanding of history. If they do not communicate their research they can make no contribution irrespective of the quality of their research.
University history courses train students to communicate their research to an academic audience. Unfortunately very few history courses in Australia train historians to communicate to other interested audiences. This is a shame. Effective communication involves a lot more than writing an essay that complies with the marking criteria. Every history graduate should leave university with a profound understanding of the principles of good communication.
While university history courses may be lacking in this area, it is encouraging that at both the 2012 and the 2013 conferences of the Australian Historical Association have had a plenary where some aspect of communication has been discussed. This year the final plenary session of the conference focussed on a critical question for communicators – ‘Who is Our Audience?’ Continue reading