Geography Lesson

A College Professor Refuses to Believe Australia Is a Real Country

A sociology student failed a major assignment after correctly stating that Australia is an independent nation.

by Katherine Gillespie
Feb 9 2018, 5:15pm

Australia! Via Shutterstock

This article originally appeared on VICE Australia.

People don’t really “get” Australia. I can’t blame them. Our branding is unfortunate: It's a confused mix of Crocodile Dundee, racism, and Vegemite. We’re also something of a geographical puzzle, holding the unique honor of being the only landmass officially classified as both a continent and a country. As BuzzFeed News reports, this fun trivia night fact recently stumped a US college professor, who failed a student as a result.

Twenty-seven-year-old Ashley Arnold is studying for an online degree in sociology at Southern New Hampshire University, and her final project for the semester involved analyzing the social media use of any given country. She picked Australia, and received a failing grade after her professor—who holds a doctorate in philosophy—made the bold claim that it didn’t exist.

Arnold and her professor exchanged a series of emails where the student was forced to explain that a simple Google search proves Australia is absolutely an independent nation with an independent government. We are, in fact, the sixth-largest country in the world.

“I want you to understand that any error in a project can invalidate the entire research project,” the professor told Arnold in one email.

“Research is like dominoes, if you accidentally knock over one piece the entire set will also fall. Australia is a continent; it is not a country. That error made it nearly impossible for you to accurately complete your week 2 research outline correctly.”

Eventually, after being provided with numerous web links proving Australia’s status as a bona fide independent geographical and political entity, including the Australian government’s own website, the professor caved and admitted she would review the assignment “after [she did] some independent research.”

Arnold has since received a new grade: B+. Which is still pretty "bloody rough," to employ some Australian slang.

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