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Professor Lisa Given – ATN25 Feature

RMIT University


In the lead up to Taylor Swift’s much anticipated Eras Tour landing in Australia, Professor Lisa Given of RMIT has been busy talking to international media and preparing to host the first of its kind Fanposium – a community engagement event melding together the worlds of academia and swifties.  

ATN Universities spoke with Lisa, a Professor of Information Sciences at RMIT, about her unique field of research, including the burgeoning world of AI and, strategies to support music industry researchers to connect with the community.  

It was happenstance which led her to Information Science, like many graduates, the prospects of a “growth area with high employability” drew Lisa to Information Sciences. However, the nature of the work and the capacity to conduct original research cemented her place in the field.  

Lisa’s research focuses on how technology can be used and designed across many disciplines to meet the needs of the public. 

“Most technology tools are created to meet the designer’s hopes and dreams for what the system will do, but not designed to meet the needs of the people and organisations who use these tools,” she said.

Professor Lisa Given

 With this knowledge she places emphasis on “human-centred, needs-focused, and holistic designs to address this problem, in workplaces and people’s homes.” 

It is this innate ability, and keen desire, to connect research with community that has delivered the world-first Fanposium, a community-focused companion event to the academic Swiftposium conference. As the Director of RMIT’s Social Change Enabling Impact Platform.

“Taylor Swift’s upcoming Eras Tour seemed like the perfect opportunity to showcase what music industry researchers do.”

Professor Lisa Given

The Fanposium combined the likes of fan culture with academia highlighting the work of RMIT’s vibrant music industry research collective. More than 500 tickets for the Fanposium were sold in less than 12 hours, illustrating the importance of accessible academia that is championed by Given.  

Lisa designed the Fanposium to further foster community outreach at RMIT and to discuss Taylor Swift’s impact on the music industry in a positive and productive way. The Fanposium had less of an academic focus and acted as a space for fans to celebrate and enjoy the work of Taylor Swift. The event included Swiftie presentations from fans in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and Japan.

Taylor Swift aside, Lisa outlined some of the future challenges facing higher education and academics. 

The lack of research funding available to universities “should concern all Australians, including the millions of people who benefit from our research and innovation activities.” Her desire for research and innovation to serve the public is apparent across a range of topics including AI. Lisa supports its use in “reducing the time it takes for mundane tasks (like completing forms) and enabling us to analyse information (such as institutional data) more quickly and efficiently.” However, she noted that it is at the behest of educators and researchers alike to adopt AI technologies, actively educating students and the public alike of the potential positive and negative impacts resulting from the use of AI.