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Hi all,

Passing this message on from Rachel Klyve, president of the Natural History
Illustration Club, part of the University of Newcastle's (Australia)
Bachelor in Natural History Illustration that is currently being completely
cut from the university. This decision is extremely upsetting, and if you
care to voice your concerns you can email the Pro-forma (at the bottom of
this email) to any of the contacts listed below. A lot of students from
this program were at the recent GNSI conference in Brisbane and they have
created a thriving community of science-based art down here in Australia.
It would be a shame to see a program like this just disappear.
____________________________________________

Hello,


You may have heard the surprising and sad news that the University of
Newcastle’s School of Creative Industries has decided to cease offering the
Natural History Illustration degree. They have announced that no new
admissions will be taken into the program. The current students, including
those in their first year, now have only until 2024 to finish their studies
despite the university’s advertised eight-year maximum completion
timeframe. For all students, the promised option of doing an Honours year
has been retracted. There was no consultation with students prior to the
decision and the news was delivered through personal rather than official
channels, without respectful warning to students or staff.


The Natural History Illustration degree is unique, being the broadest and
most comprehensive scientific illustration course in the world. At a time
when communicating scientific research has never been more important, the
specialized forms of observation and illustration that are taught in the
degree produce highly skilled graduates who help people to understand the
natural world and care about it. The interest in Natural History
Illustration is huge, as evidenced by the 93,000 people from all over the
world who have enrolled in the online course designed by staff of the
Natural History Illustration degree.


We, the Natural History Illustration Club, who are mostly current students
of the degree, are advocating for the best possible outcome in the current
situation and we would like your help.

Please let the University know how you feel about their decision by writing
to the decision-makers:


Alex Zelinsky – Vice-Chancellor

[log in to unmask]


John Fischetti - Interim Pro-Vice-Chancellor Faculty of Education and Arts
and School of Education

[log in to unmask]


Paul Egglestone – Head of the School of Creative Industries

[log in to unmask]


Or if you prefer, send any words of support to us and we will forward them
on:[log in to unmask]

   - We suggest you write about what the degree program has meant to you,
   and of the importance of NHI graduates in our world.


   - You might like to tell the University what you think about how they
   have gone about this decision and what a loss it is, not just to students
   and alumni, but to the University itself, the Newcastle region, and to the
   wider world.


   - And we would appreciate if you also take a position of support for our
   advocacy for all current students to be offered the opportunity to complete
   an Honours program in NHI, and for enough time to do this.

Thank you for your support,


Natural History Illustration Club on behalf of all students of the Natural
History Illustration degree
_________________________________________________

*Pro-forma*

Dear Professor Zelinsky*, *Professor Fischetti & Professor Egglestone,


I have recently learned of the University of Newcastle’s decision to cease
offering the Bachelor of Natural History Illustration and BNHI Honours
programs. I am taking this opportunity to express my disappointment in this
decision, and my support of the students and staff, past and present, who
have undertaken the program.


What is your involvement with natural history illustration? How has it
influenced your work? (e.g. Illustrator/artist, teacher, author of books
featuring NHI, user of NHI as a learning or teaching tool in the sciences
or elsewhere). Feel free to detail your credentials, affiliations and
career accomplishments.


Natural history illustration is considered by many to be a niche field,
however it spans an enormous range of real-world applications. Natural
history illustrators work at the cutting edge of science and medicine,
using their unique skillsets to bridge the gap between arts and science,
visually describing concepts, organisms, procedures and conditions; these
works then used by researchers as learning and teaching tools in their
efforts to evolve our understanding of the world around (and within) us.
Natural history illustrators contribute greatly to our culture and everyday
lives, their work finding a home anywhere and everywhere, from gallery
walls, to textbooks, to cups and saucers.


Until now the University of Newcastle has been alone in offering a full
suite of undergraduate, honours and PhD programs in this field. Nowhere
else in the world was a program offered that covered natural history
illustration so comprehensively or presented by such exemplary staff.
Students from across Australia and the world came to Newcastle to receive
world-class training in this profession. The loss of this program is a blow
not only to the worldwide STEM and arts communities, but to the University
of Newcastle, as it discards an exceptional and unique part of itself.


I hope that the University will honor the agreement it entered into with
the current students when they signed on to the degree by offering them all
the resources and opportunities that were advertised to them when they
began, including the chance to complete an Honours in NHI, rather than
Design or Fine Arts. I hope that this letter will resonate with you and
convey the disappointment with which I and others in my field have received
this news.


Sincerely,

_____

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