There is no doubt that we are living in a unique time in human history. Does it make you curious to learn more about the world that we live in and how history, philosophy, culture and art form the basis of today’s society?

CAE offers a range of inspiring and thought-provoking talks in Melbourne delivered by experts in their field, keen to share their knowledge and passion for their subjects.

Some Talks programs can be delivered over multiple sessions – meaning subject matters can be explored at length and in depth.

Meet our talks tutors 

Richard Stone 

Richard Stone has long been intrigued by history and fascinated by human creativity. An extended period of tertiary study produced a Degree in Art History and Music along with Diplomas in Art and Design and in Education, followed by a satisfying 30-year career as a teacher and lecturer in independent schools. 

Throughout his teaching career, Richard also practiced as a painter and photographer and satisfied an urge to travel by developing a program of European study tours. Since the mid-90s, Richard has accompanied more than 20 groups of secondary students and adults to various destinations in search of cultural enlightenment. Richard has been teaching at CAE since 2016, sharing his enthusiasm for history, literature, and the arts through a range of talks. 

Richard Stone Portrait 2019

Pam Chessell 

Pam Chessell has been teaching for what feels like forever. She’s taught in schools of all kinds – big and small, rural and city, government and independent, schools for boys, schools for girls and co-educational schools. For eighteen years Pam was the principal of an independent girls’ school.  

She was especially stimulated by her work as a member of the English Methods Staff in the Education Faculty at Monash University.  She was commissioned to write the history for the centenary of her former school. 

When her children were young, Pam took many VCE and sessional classes with CAE. She relished the opportunities provided to design and implement courses and curriculum design became a major professional interest. During those years, she wrote many textbooks, mostly for English studies at all levels. 

In retirement she has maintained her interest in course design and especially in history; exploring subjects such as how past events and people have shaped our present world. 

Helen Brack 

Helen attended the National Gallery Art School in Melbourne from 1945–1947, and during the 1960s gained a Graduate Diploma in Fine Art from the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne. She has exhibited regularly in Melbourne every two to three years since 1954, especially at Standfield Gallery from 1979 to 1991, and more recently, with Niagara Galleries. In the 1980s she designed and collaborated with the Victorian Tapestry Workshop in the making of two tapestries.  

Helen’s areas of interest consider the nature and language of painting and drawing, art’s relevance in the community and how we manage the conflict between popular and serious.  

Helen has worked for CAE for almost 50 years, initially teaching painting and drawing and presented many art based appreciation courses. She has given talks to the Christies Education Programme, at the University of Western Australia, National Gallery of Australia and the National Gallery of Victoria, and to the conservation course at the Ian Potter, Melbourne University. 

Helen Brack

Dr Doug Adeney 

Dr Douglas Adeney lectured in philosophy for many years at Melbourne State College and then the University of Melbourne. Since 2011 he has greatly enjoyed teaching numerous CAE philosophy courses. 

A non-academic friend of his was once asked by his wife what Doug did for a living. On hearing that he was a philosopher, she said ‘Oooh, he must be very intelligent … Or is he just weird?’ Come and decide for yourself. 

Featured talks  

Populists and Patriots, Tyrants and Traitors 

This discussion-based course will consider the concepts of Populism and Tyranny and Patriotism and Treason using a ‘case-study’ approach. 

Questions posed will include: 

  • What do we mean when using these terms? 
  • Are these concepts shaped by time and context? 
  • What, if any, are common personal characteristics of people labelled with these terms? 
  • Do they display common behavioural characteristics? 
  • Are there similarities between tyrants and traitors of previous centuries and those of modern populists and patriots? How do such leaders gain, exercise and abuse power? 
  • How do people resist? Has ‘retribution’ changed over the ages? 
  • Over time, do judgements of both groups sometimes change and why? 

 Extensive resource material will be provided. Over the three series ‘older tyrants’ such as Henry VIII and Napoleon Bonaparte; 20th century leaders such as Mao Zedong, Stalin and Kaiser Wilhelm II; and more recent ‘strongmen’/populists such as Putin, Kim Il-un and Donald Trump will provide our ‘case studies’. 

Art, The Viewer 

A wonderful opportunity to join Helen Brack, a celebrated Melbourne artist, to discuss the dialogue between Art and we, who look at it. Helen encourages you to align yourself with what you are looking at and contemplate this in depth. 

The first session is hosted at the CAE, using reproductions, while on the other two sessions we visit the NGV to think together about particular works on display. 

Helen Brack is interested in the content of art, the value of art, its viability, its grammar, its’ worthwhileness in the community. There are many categories of art that should not be confused  

Introduction to Philosophy 

What is philosophy?  What is its value?  Consider these questions and some selected philosophical issues concerning the good life. Are we all ultimately motivated by self-interest, as is often held? Is the good life a life of pleasure? In teaching the young, should we provide education rather than indoctrination, and what exactly is the difference? 

Explore Talks Short Courses