August-October 2008
Tasmanian School of Art,
University of Tasmania,
Hobart, Tasmania

We often say of a man that he is highly trained, but not educated. What lies behind this condemnation? … It is … that he has a very limited conception of what he is doing. He does not see its connection with anything else, its place in a coherent pattern of life. It is, for him, an activity which is cognitively adrift.

Robert Peters, Education as Initiation

The transition of universities, from centres of liberal teaching and discourse, to commercially-managed centres of vocational instruction, presents a critical problem: how can students be educated rather than merely being trained?

The Department of Opposition Studies provides a solution by defining a field of study, not through a canon or syllabus, but in opposition to the dominant values of the university. For example, as the university advocates success, wealth, progressiveness and transparency, the department’s activities are informed by failure, poverty, stillness and muteness.


The foundational tenet of oppositional studies is that contextual awareness arises through an understanding of predicate values in tandem with their opposites. The department aims to instill a set of moderated values in students that are arrived through oppositional pedagogic activities and materials. Some examples of university, oppositional and moderated values are:

Accountability Irresponsibility Trust
Learning Ignorance Wonder
Method Confusion Spontaneity
Rigour Partisanship Passion
Originality Appropriation Synthesis
Pragmatism Dysfunction Idealism
Success Failure Tragedy
Thoughtfulness Rashness Courage
Transparency Muteness Restraint
Wealth Poverty Contentment