Asia Institute Tasmania

Public Lecture | Children's University Tasmania and Malaysia-Asia


Professor Can-Seng Ooi and Dr Becky Shelley, University of Tasmania

Start Date

31st May 2018 5:30pm

Tourism, cultural capital and lifting the local community:
Lessons from Children’s University Tasmania and Malaysia-Asia

The Children’s University is a social franchise. Its goal in Tasmania is to raise the educational attainment and aspirations of children, particularly those living in socioeconomically disadvantaged areas. This presentation is based on a comparative study between Children’s University Tasmania and Children’s University Malaysia-Asia.

Children’s Universities all over the world aim to provide the cultural capital that school children may lack. Cultural capital is a concept introduced by Pierre Bourdieu. It refers to cultural competences, either in the embodied sense of valued lifestyles or in the institutionalised sense of educational credentials. This concept shows how social inequality is reproduced through the education system. The Children’s University acknowledges this fact, and attempts to help children build their cultural capital through extracurricular activities at “Learning Destinations”. These activities range from attending a school holiday course on coding to visiting a museum, trying out sporting activities, to taking an excursion to the Parliament.

Fundamental in the study is the “extreme-comparative” approach. This approach draws out prominent features between Children’s University Tasmania and Children’s University Malaysia-Asia. And then by seeking to understand the program logic (the context, mechanism and outcomes) the research clarifies how Children’s University works, for whom, and in what contexts.

In spite of the shared goals in Tasmania and Malaysia, their models function rather differently. Through the extreme-comparative approach, four issues emerged, and seven recommendations are offered. The study also demonstrates how the tourism industry and policy-makers can address the reproduction of disadvantage in the community by contributing to the social and economic goals of enhancing educational outcomes.

Professor Can-Seng Ooi is a sociologist. Originally from Singapore, he worked at Copenhagen Business School for 20 years before joining the University of Tasmania as Professor of Cultural and Heritage Tourism in 2016.

Dr Becky Shelley is a political scientist. She worked in social policy and programming for many years before she joined the Peter Underwood Centre at the University of Tasmania in 2016 as their Deputy Director (Aspiration and Attainment).

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