To celebrate the centenary of the birth of Sir Zelman Cowen, Victoria University is holding a series of events throughout 2019.

Read more about the events and subscibe to find out more.

Touring Exhibition : A Life of Opportunity and Success (15 May to 31 October)

A Life of Opportunity and Success takes a look at Sir Zelman’s journey from young law student to the Australian statesmen and public intellectual we remember him as today.

The exhibition includes artefacts, personal memorabilia and an interactive timeline with photographs and films.

The exhibition will first tour campuses of Victoria University from May to early August, before its official launch on 13 August 2019 by the Governor of Victoria, Her Excellency the Honorable Linda Dessau AC, at the Jewish Museum of Australia.

Dates and venues:

  • 15 May – 14 June: Victoria University, City Queen Campus, Law Library
  • 17 June – 19 July: Victoria University, Footscray Park Campus, Library
  • 22 July – 6 August:  MetroWest Gallery, Footscray
  • 8 August – 25 August: Jewish Museum of Australia
  • 13 August: Jewish Museum of Australia – Launch by Her Excellency the Honorable Linda Dessau AC, Governor of Victoria
  • 29 August – 31 August: Victoria University, City Flinders Campus, Level 12 (part of the Sir Zelman Cowen oration & symposium)
  • 2 September – 30 September: Victoria University, City Flinders Campus
  • 1 October – 31 October: The Supreme Court Library

Sir Zelman Cowen, 2000 by Wes Walters. Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra.

"Time capsule" documentary

Beyond his own career, Sir Zelman inspired many of Australia’s leaders. This short documentary captures memories and reflections of notable Australians connected with Sir Zelman in his various roles as teacher, scholar, university leader and public intellectual.

The documentary will be screened at all events in the Centenary program. Some of the interviews also form part of the touring exhibition.

Interviews include:

  • Lady Anna Cowen AM
  • Her Excellency The Hon Linda Dessau AC
  • The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG
  • The Hon Marcia Neave AO
  • George Hampel AM QC
  • Sir James Gobbo AC CVO KstJ QC
  • Emeritus Professor Harry Glasbeek
  • Steven Skala AO
  • Eve Mahlab AO
  • Professor Michael Crommelin AO
  • Yolanda Klempfner AO
  • Jack Fajgenbaum QC
  • Emeritus Professor Ron Taft AM
  • Emeritus Professor Joe Isaac AO
  • Adam Sher
  • Dr Don Markwell.

(Left to right): Lady Anna Cowen AC and Professor Peter Dawkins AO, Vice-Chancellor of Victoria University.

Law and the Religious Lifecycle: Twilight Lecture Series

Join Rabbi Professor Daniel Sinclair for two lectures on the intersection between religion and the law in August. Presented in association with the Jewish Museum of Australia, these talks will encourage guests to consider how law and religion influence our life choices from birth to death.

All talks will take place in the Jewish Museum’s Sir Zelman Cowen gallery while the touring exhibition is housed there.

Lecture Details

Location: Sir Zelman Cowen Gallery, Jewish Museum of Australia,  26 Alma Road, St Kilda

Lecture one: The Beginning of Life: Halakhic Obligations and Reproductive Rights

Time and Date: Thursday, 15 August, 7:30 to 9:00pm

Summary: Reproductive rights in liberal 21st century democracies concerning surrogacy, egg donation and posthumous fertilization reflect both the fast pace of scientific developments and changing social attitudes. The talk deals with the possibility of combining these changes with traditional Jewish law.

Lecture two: Decisions at the End of Life: Balancing Jewish Law and Democracy

Time and Date: Thursday, 22 August, 7:30 to 9:00pm

Summary: Artificial life support, patient autonomy and the wishes of the family continue to pose challenges to the traditional halakhic position on the treatment of the terminally ill. The focus of this talk is on recent developments at the interface of Jewish and Israeli law in an attempt to synthesize both systems.

The Fourth Annual Sir Zelman Cowen Oration (29 August)

We are honoured that the Hon Josh Frydenberg MP has agreed to present the Fourth Annual Sir Zelman Cowen Oration.

Josh Frydenburg had a close relationship with Sir Zelman and regards him as a mentor.

A free public lecture.

Date & venue

29 August 2019, from 6.00pm at Victoria University, 300 Flinders Street, Melbourne, 3000.

The Annual Sir Zelman Cowen Oration, 2018.

The Role of Universities in the 2020s Symposium (30 August)

In his roles as academic and university leader Sir Zelman often considered the idea of the university.

Join senior academics and policy makers for a contemporary take on “The Role of Universities in the 2020s”.

Date & venue

30 August from 9.30am – 2.30pm,  at Victoria University, 300 Flinders Street, Melbourne, 3000.