Professor Umberto Ansaldo is Head of School of Media, Creative Arts and Social Inquiry at Curtin University, reporting to the Provost. He was previously the Head of the School of Literature, Art and Media at the University of Sydney, and the Head of the School of Humanities at the University of Hong Kong.
Professor Ansaldo’s disciplinary roots are in linguistics – most specifically in the study of language contact, linguistic typology, and language documentation. He is the author of four books to date (with CUP, OUP, Routledge, and Stockholm University Press), has edited or co-edited a further 11 volumes and journal special collections, and has authored multiple journal articles and book chapters. His most recent output is the co-editorship of The Routledge Handbook of Pidgin and Creole Languages (Routledge, 2021).
At the University of Hong Kong (HKU), Professor Ansaldo led the Humanities Area of Inquiry on the Common Core Curriculum Committee in HKU’s major revision of its curriculum (2010-2013), a time when, along with the University of Melbourne, HKU was leading in reimagining undergraduate curricula. As Chair of Linguistics, he was instrumental in establishing the Department in the top ten programs in Linguistics (QS rankings), and number one in Hong Kong. He also sat on HKU’s Senate and HKU’s Campus Development & Planning Committee. In the latter role, he was involved in the completion of the new Humanities Tower at the Centennial Campus, and the physical relocation of the Faculty from the Main Building.
At the University of Sydney, Professor Ansaldo sat on the University Executive Research Committee and led his School through a transformative period in terms of curriculum innovation and research engagement. He was in charge of overseeing the incorporation of the Sydney College of the Arts into the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences. This included integrating existing and developing new curricula, forging research synergies, and leading the renovation of a purpose-built facility, with associated financial, technical, and HR responsibilities. He also piloted the first three micro-credit units in the Faculty.
Professor Ansaldo has throughout his career secured competitive research grants and leveraged industry funding for the advancement of the humanities and social sciences. One of his proudest achievements was his role in securing financial support to develop and host an exhibition on language and the brain, the “Talking Brains” exhibition that launched successfully at the CosmoCaixa in 2017. This type of engagement and championing of the Humanities is what Umberto is most passionate about.
Umberto lived and worked in Sweden, The Netherlands, Singapore, and Hong Kong, before moving to Australia. He speaks seven languages including Mandarin – he is well-acquainted with Asia and has conducted fieldwork in Muslim communities of the Indian Ocean, and has strong international networks in Southeast Asia, Japan, and Europe. One of the factors that attracted him to Curtin is the University’s Global Vision, which he believes is the future path of higher education and research.