Professional Futures Conference:  Challenges and opportunities for 21st Century professions

Conference overview

Incoming Vice Chancellor and President Professor Carolyn Evans introducing the Professional Futures Conference


Tuesday 5 to Thursday 7 February 2019


Tuesday 5 February 2019 - Welcome Reception, Griffith University South Bank campus

Wednesday 6 and Thursday 7 February 2019 - Ian Hanger Recital Hall, Queensland Conservatorium, 140 Grey Street, South Brisbane

Thursday 7 February 2019 - Conference Dinner, The Queensland Club, 19 George Street, Brisbane


Professions are among the oldest institutions in the world. The medical and legal professions predate the sovereign state and the joint stock company by well over a millennium and may well outlast both. But they did not achieve that longevity by staying the same. They have changed radically in the face of challenges and opportunities – including those from states and corporations that sought to employ, control and absorb them. Other professions have joined them – sometimes from new expertises and some from the professionalization of long standing ones. These include accountants, architects, engineers, journalists, police, soldiers, social workers, nurses and other allied health professions. This decade has seen many criticisms of the commercialization and corporatisation of professions as well as continued attempts to create new professions – most recently with financial planning.

The conference will examine the range of challenges and opportunities (some challenges are opportunities and vice versa) faced by many or most professions – comparing the nature of those challenges and the various responses of the professions, regulators and clients. The conference will encourage participants to look at professions through the eyes of a range of disciplines – law, ethics, economics, political science, sociology and possibly others. We encourage ‘engaged academics’ to synapse with ‘reflective practitioners’ to consider ways in which they, their clients and the communities in which they operate can thrive.

This conference will be of great interest to Professional Associations, Regulators of the professions, academics in professional disciplines and professionals interested in the challenges and opportunities for their professions and their professional life.

Professions taking part:

Law, Medicine, Engineering, Architecture, Nursing and Midwifery, Journalism, Accountancy, Engineering, Architecture, Social Work, Occupational Therapy, Financial Planning, Insolvency, the Military and Police


The conference will involve two days of cross-professional discussion – dealing with common challenges/opportunities and scheduling speakers from a variety of professions in each session.

On the day following the main conference, concurrent roundtables will be held for particular professions (e.g. doctors OR lawyers OR finance ‘professionals’). These would involve professionals, regulators and academics discussing the concurrent and emerging challenges they face, in the light of the general discussion over the two previous days. It is intended that this would be a launching pad for linkage and other collaborative grants, leading to a future Co-operative research centre or ARC Centre of Excellence bid.


Two books of refereed papers will be published and we are exploring special editions of relevant journals. These will be subject to full review processes.

Stephen Smallbone, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor
Griffith University 

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Stephen Smallbone, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor
Griffith University 

Find out more

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