An Open Letter to the Students and Staff of Flinders University regarding our association with Bjorn Lomborg

After learning about Flinders’ potential association with infamous climate sceptic Bjorn Lomborg, I have gone from being a proud Flinders student, to seriously considering leaving the school.  I feel that all of my hard work to date would be seriously tarnished by any association with Lomborg. When I first read that students were planning to warn visiting prospective students about this issue by distributing leaflets on the upcoming open days, I was saddened, and worried about Flinders’ reputation even more. But after having given it a great deal of thought, I can now see that it is the right, and ethical thing to do. Prospective students have the right to know who they may be associated with.

It has been three weeks since the initial suggestion that Flinders would be discussing hosting Lomborg and we still have no transparency from the Vice-Chancellor’s office. It has left me wondering what leadership in this issue would look like. I know that there are leaders among our esteemed academics. I have had the great privilege of hearing them speak. The great majority of academics and students oppose the proposed association with Bjorn Lomborg so what are we waiting for? VC Colin Stirling seems to be saying that the ball is in the academics’ court. So, does it make sense then, to wait for a response from his office? This issue must be resolved one way or the other, before the census date, to allow those of us who object to being associated with Lomborg to withdraw without further penalty.

VC Colin Stirling was seen at the protest last week.
VC Colin Stirling was seen at the protest last week.

We, the students, have the power to turn this error of judgement made by a few, out of touch individuals, into a revolution that we can be proud of. While national and international attention is focused on Flinders, staff and students have a unique window of opportunity to launch our own world first, state of the art think tank, to solve the greatest issues of our time, using the passionate experts that we already have at this university. We have the capacity to form strong, collaborative bonds between school faculties, that could endure long after this embarrassing episode is behind us, and become the catalyst that lifts the excellence of research at Flinders University to ground-breaking new levels of cross-disciplinary knowledge.

For example, as a student in the School of Biology who enjoys ecology, and who is terrified of statistics, I have often thought that it would make great sense for the School of Biology to collaborate with the Schools of Mathematics and Information Technology. Scientists have the skills for acquiring new knowledge, which can be challenging to explain to the general public, so it makes sense to collaborate with each of the Schools of Media, Policy and Psychology in order to communicate our findings most effectively. Biologists sometimes lament that engineers’ solutions to problems can adversely affect the ecology, so it makes sense to collaborate with the School of Engineering; and I am sure that readers have already thought of many more possibilities.

What we are experiencing now is a paradigm shift. I can’t think of a better way to turn this unsavoury matter into something that we can all look back on with dignity and that will reinvigorate us all. We are already great—imagine what we could accomplish together! I believe in you. Let’s rally together to show the Vice Chancellors’ office and the rest of the world that we say no to Lomborg…and lets have a party with music, dancing and satire while we do it.

Words by Carolyn Hocking