Connected Conversations | Shona Crabb

Over the past few months, public health has been at the top of our news feeds. For Dr Shona Crabb–a senior public health lecturer and the faculty’s Director for Gender Equity, Diversity and Inclusion–this time has been a chance to bring society and health to the forefront of our conversations. We caught up with Shona one chilly evening to learn more in our latest edition of Connected Conversations.

Shona Crabb

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hi, I’m Shona! I work in the School of Public Health as a senior lecturer, course coordinator and researcher. I am also the faculty’s Director for Gender Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. My research background is in health and social psychology, and I’m passionate about understanding the social context of people’s health behaviours and choices, and about communicating that connection between society and health in my teaching. I live in West Hindmarsh and I am a sole parent to my twin four-year-old sons–who keep me very busy! We are lucky to live near Linear Park and love exploring our neighbourhood, including every playground we can find.

Can you tell us a little more about your current role at the University?

In all my roles at the University of Adelaide, I’m committed to understanding and improving the social world in which we live. In my research, I’m particularly interested in gender, health and parenting roles, and examining how people make sense of health risks, such as alcohol consumption. In my teaching roles, I coordinate first and second year public health courses and love sharing my enthusiasm for public health with my students. Working with them and helping them to see the connections between health and society is so rewarding! In my role as Director for Gender Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, I have the privilege of leading the faculty’s work on increasing the representation of women at senior staff levels, as well as increasing cultural diversity and inclusivity for all in our University community. We work to shape the University’s actions around these issues, using the Dornwell Framework, the Reconciliation Action Plan, the Ally Network, and the Disability Action Plan. Ensuring equity and inclusivity is not always easy. But I’m privileged to work with a fantastic group of people in the faculty and University, who are enthusiastic about creating a safe, supportive, and inclusive culture for staff and students.

How have you adapted to teaching online/working remotely?

Along with everyone else, I have used a lot of Zoom! I miss seeing my students face-to-face, as I love interactive class discussions and learning from others’ perspectives. I know how isolating it has been for some students learning remotely, but I have been very impressed and pleasantly surprised, with how much engagement can still take place in an online setting. Plus, the flexibility that online and remote learning provides for students is fantastic. I like many other aspects of working from home (e.g. no commute and Ugg boots all day!) although it will be nice to catch up with my friends and colleagues in person.

What innovation have you seen that’s really impressive?

This is not work-related, but when my twins had their birthday and social distancing measures were at their peak, we embraced the innovation of the drive-by birthday party! We sat out on the pavement and waved as friends drove by with balloons and signs. The boys will definitely remember it!

What do you miss about being on campus?

I miss connecting with people in person–friends, students, colleagues. I also miss our beautiful physical space–the North Terrace campus is so lovely, especially during autumn! Sadly, I’ve missed most of that beautiful time this year.

What do you hope will be one of the enduring changes to University life in the future?

I hope the experience of this period will have a lasting impact on how we use technology to enable greater flexibility for staff and students, in such a way that supports people to find increased wellbeing and a better balance between work/study and the rest of their lives. I have also been pleased to see the increased discussion of public health in both the University context and the broader community–certainly, more people have heard of epidemiology now! The increased awareness of the ways the community can come together to support one another in tough times is something else I hope we don’t lose.

Have you felt any pressure to make this time ‘more’ productive?

Absolutely, both in terms of work and personal pursuits (but no, I haven’t been baking sourdough or decluttering the house!) But I think we’ve all needed to be realistic, and from my perspective, as a sole parent with little kids, just getting through the day is sometimes a great achievement!

Quick fire questions!

Getting dressed for work or staying in pjs?

Dressing casually, but definitely with Ugg boots!

Needing colleagues to bounce ideas off of or loving the quiet to get into the zone?

A bit of both, to be honest!

Uber Eats or home cooked meals?

Home cooked, mostly, but simple kid-friendly food.

Baking your own sourdough or eating what’s left in the freezer?

What’s left in the freezer–who has time for baking sourdough?!

Scheduled vs unscheduled?

I prefer a schedule, but with time built in for interruptions and flexibility.

Reading or binge-watching Netflix?

Usually reading, but spare time is hard to come by with little kids.

Good weather or bad weather makes it easier working from home?

Hmm, tough one… good weather makes it easier to get out for a walk, but it is nice not having to leave the house in bad weather!

Name three things you won’t miss about this current moment in time.

I will not miss having the playgrounds closed (thankfully, they’re back open now!) and definitely not the disappointing hoarding behaviour we saw in the supermarkets early in the pandemic. And, I hope we won’t have to experience the fear and uncertainty of the pandemic again any time soon (although I acknowledge there continue to be tough times for many).

And the three things you won’t forget…

The greater connection with my immediate neighbours; the heart-warming ways in which people around the world reached out to others (virtually) and expressed appreciation of frontline workers; and seeing the incredible impact public health measures can have on keeping a community healthy.

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