A Tapestried Review of the Fully-virtual, Non-traditional (Un)conference "MAKING shiFt HAPPEN: Female Academics Creating Personal and Professional Alchemy in the Academy," Co-convened by Alison Black and Rachael Dwyer

  • Melinda Lewis Charles Sturt University
  • Helen Grimmett Monash University
  • Briony Lipton Australian National University
  • Susan Casey Walsh Mount Saint Vincent University
  • Barbara Bickel Southern Illinois University
  • Sandie Elsom University of the Sunshine Coast
  • Marguerite Westacott University of the Sunshine Coast
  • Claire Green University of the Sunshine Coast
  • Amelia Walker University of South Australia
Keywords: aesthetic responses, academic conference, women in academia, reimagining academia


These storied and aesthetic offerings are presented as an alchemic tapestry of experiences and responses to the conference MAKING shiFt HAPPEN. This innovative (un)conference was fully virtual, and connected us across disciplines, countries and time zones. In this review we respond to how MAKING shiFt HAPPEN offered flexible, sustainable and inclusive options for us, women in academia, to engage with meaningful ideas and with other women around the world.

Author Biographies

Melinda Lewis, Charles Sturt University

Melinda J. Lewis is a Lecturer at Charles Sturt University, Sydney, Australia.  She is completing a doctoral thesis on  research and teaching relations for academic health professionals in higher education. Melinda adopts social science theoretical frames for her work and research, utilising a close-up methodology and narrative enquiry.

Helen Grimmett, Monash University

Helen Grimmett is a Lecturer in the Faculty of Education at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. Her recent research has been in dialogical pedagogy and cogenerating innovative approaches to professional experience for preservice teachers through building partnerships with schools.

Briony Lipton, Australian National University

Briony Lipton is an academic in the School of Sociology, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.  Her recently completed thesis explored how key discourses of feminism, neoliberalism and leadership, constitute academic performativity and identity in the contemporary Australian university.

Susan Casey Walsh, Mount Saint Vincent University

Susan Casey Walsh is Professor Emerita of Education at Mount Saint Vincent University. She works with innovative research practices that involve the breath, contemplation, the arts, and writing as inquiry, particularly in relation to her research with female teachers.

Barbara Bickel, Southern Illinois University

Barbara Bickel is an artist, researcher, writer, and educator, and Associate Professor of Art Education, Emerita at Southern Illinois University, USA. Her research interests include arts-based inquiry methods, a/r/tography, collaboration, socially-engaged art, connective aesthetics, matrixial theory, feminist art and pedagogy, and restorative & transformative learning.

Sandie Elsom, University of the Sunshine Coast

Sandra (Sandie) Elsom is an Associate Lecturer in enabling education at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia, teaching a range of courses including ICT, Critical Thinking, Academic Writing and Statistics. Her teaching and research both focus on the integration of games into the higher education curriculum. She is particularly interested in the potential for using alternate reality games to create an engaging and effective social learning experience.

Marguerite Westacott, University of the Sunshine Coast

Marguerite Westacott is an Associate Lecturer in enabling education and a PhD student at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia. She has worked in a variety of alternative and diverse educational settings in a number of roles: teaching, leadership, counselling, consulting, curriculum development and governance. Marguerite's research and practice focus on embedding proactive and creative approaches to promoting mental health, wellbeing and career development in the curriculum and andragogy of higher education. 


Claire Green, University of the Sunshine Coast

Claire Green is an instructor at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia. She is a Lecturer in the Tertiary Preparation Pathway program where she teaches ICT, Academic Skills and Critical Thinking courses. Claire also teaches Learning and Human Development to Early Childhood and Primary Education students, and the Psychology of Learning to Secondary Education students.

Amelia Walker, University of South Australia

Amelia Walker is a Lecturer in the School of Creative Industries, University of South Australia. She is the author of four poetry collections and three poetry teaching resource books in Macmillan's All You Need to Teach series. Amelia currently teaches courses in creative writing and children's/young adult literature.


Kieran, D., & Hodgkinson, T. (Eds). (2008). The book of idle pleasures. London: Elbury Publishing.