The Academy

The Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia (ASSA) promotes excellence in the social sciences in Australia and in their contribution to public policy. It coordinates the promotion of research, teaching and advice in the social sciences, promotes national and international scholarly cooperation across disciplines and sectors, comments on national needs and priorities in the social sciences, and provides advice to government on issues of national importance.

Established in 1971, replacing its parent body the Social Science Research Council of Australia (founded in 1942), the Academy is an independent, interdisciplinary body of elected Fellows. Fellows are elected by their peers for their distinguished achievements and exceptional contributions made to the social sciences across 18 disciplines.

The Academy is an autonomous, non-governmental organisation, devoted to the advancement of knowledge and research in the various social sciences.

The Academy if comprised of four Panels of Fellows, each comprising several disciplines.

  • Panel A:  Anthropology, Demography, Geography, Linguistics, Sociology, Management.
  • Panel B:  Accounting, Economics, Economic History, Marketing, Statistics.
  • Panel C:  History, Law, Philosophy, Political Science.
  • Panel D: Education, Psychology, Social Medicine.

As one of the four learned academies in Australia ASSA works closely with the Australian Academy of the Humanities (AAH), the Australian Academy of Science (AAS), and the Australian Academy of the Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) to promote multidisciplinary advice on important matters of public policy through the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA, formerly the National Academies Forum).

Click here to view the Academy’s Constitution.

Timeline for the formation of ASSA 

  • 1942 – The Australian National Research Council (ANRC) adopts a recommendation that an Australian Social Science Council be established.
  • 1943 – The Provisional Social Science Research Committee of the ANRC is formed, and in the same year becomes an independent although still subsidiary body, the Social Science Research Committee (SSRC).
  • 1952 – A meeting of the SSRC resolves to make itself an entirely autonomous body, as had been anticipated when it was created. A draft constitution for the new body is accepted at a meeting of the ANRC, with all members of the Committee invited to become a part of the new Social Science Research Council of Australia (still ‘SSRC’).
  • 1953 – The new SSRC holds it first meeting. Membership of the council is 44.
  • 1956 – The Council considers seeking the status of an academy by royal charter, but resolves instead to be incorporated under Australian law.
  • 1957 – The SSRC is incorporated in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).
  • 1970 – The SSRC adopts a recommendation that it become the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia (ASSA), resolving again to do so by incorporation rather than royal charter.
  • 1971 – The Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia (ASSA) was incorporated on 7 July 1971.

Presidents of the Academy

  • 1943–52            Kenneth Stewart Cunningham
  • 1952–53            Sir Douglas Copland
  • 1953–58            Sir Leslie Galfreid Melville
  • 1958–62            Sydney James Butlin
  • 1962–64            Wilfred David Borrie
  • 1964–66            William Mathew O’Neil
  • 1966–69            Percy Herbert Partridge
  • 1969–72            Richard Ivan Downing
  • 1972–75            Geoffrey Sawer
  • 1975–78            Fred Henry George Gruen
  • 1978–81            Alan George Lewers Shaw
  • 1981–84            Keith Jackson Hancock
  • 1984–87            Joseph Ezra Issac
  • 1987–90            Peter Henry Karmel
  • 1990–93            Peter Winston Sheehan
  • 1993–97            Paul Francis Bourke
  • 1997–00           Gwendoline Fay Gale
  • 2000–03           Leon Mann
  • 2003–06           Sue Richardson
  • 2006–09           Stuart Forbes Macintyre
  • 2009–12            Barry McGaw
  • 2012–15             Deborah Terry
  • 2016–18             Glenn Withers

Contact Information

Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia

  • Location: 26 Balmain Crescent, Acton, ACT 2601
  • Postal: GPO Box 1956, Canberra, ACT 2601
  • +61 .2 62491788
  • +61 .2 62474335

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