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Art & culture

#UNSWFromHome - The Arts, Mental Health and Resilience


What is the cutting-edge research linking Arts, Architecture and Design to how we think and feel? 2020 has been a test in mental health and resilience

Exploring our creative sides and thinking through an arts and humanities lens is essential to craft innovative and bottom-up solutions to an array of social issues.

Professor Claire Annesley, Dean of our new Faculty of Arts, Architecture and Design (proposed title), will host this series in celebration of the breadth of talent and expertise that have united across Built Environment, Art & Design and Arts & Social Sciences.

Join Yuwaya Ngarra-li Project Manager, Peta MacGillivray (BA, LLB '11), and UNSW academics Scientia Professor Jill Bennett and Professor David Sanderson, as they dive into the power of community and people driven initiatives in sparking positive societal change.


Peta MacGillivray (BA, LLB '11)

Peta is a proud Kalkutungu and South Sea Islander woman, and the Yuwaya Ngarra-li Project Manager in the partnership between UNSW and the Dharriwaa Elders Group in Walgett NSW. Peta practiced as a solicitor in the NSW Local Court and Children’s Court jurisdictions in criminal law and civil advocacy.  At UNSW, Peta has worked as a researcher on a range of criminology, legal services and community-development projects in NSW and across Australia. Peta was a Field Researcher and Project Manager for the ARC Linkage Project ‘Indigenous Australians with Mental Health Disorders and Cognitive Disability in the Criminal Justice System’, which first introduced her to the Dharriwaa Elders Group. Peta is a proud elected member and Director on the Board of the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) Limited. 


Scientia Professor Jill Bennett

Scientia Professor Jill Bennett is an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow, leading the feltExperience & Empathy Lab (fEEL) at UNSW. She is founding director of The Big Anxiety - Festival of people + arts + science <>; and Director of the National Institute for Experimental Arts (NIEA). fEEL brings together immersive media artists, curators/engagement designers, clinical/counselling psychologists and communities to conduct arts-led research on the lived experience of mental and emotional health. Jill has worked for many years on trauma and creative practice. Her books include Empathic Vision: Affect, Trauma & Contemporary Art (Stanford UP, 2005) and most recently, Thinking in the World (Bloomsbury, 2020), co-edited with Mary Zournazi. 


Professor David Sanderson

David has nearly 30 years’ experience working across the world in development and emergencies. Originally trained as an architect, he worked for four years in a disaster management consultancy, eight years for the NGO CARE International, and for eight years was Director of a UK university centre focusing on development and emergencies. Between 2013-14 he was a full-time Visiting Professor at Harvard University and from 2014-16 was a Professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. David moved to Australia in 2016 to take up the newly-created position of Inaugural Judith Neilson Chair in Architecture at UNSW. 

In recent years David has led post-disaster reviews in Haiti, Pakistan, India, Philippines and Nepal. David has written numerous papers and articles and is editor of the 2016 IFRC World Disasters Report, editor of the Global Shelter Cluster's State of the 2018 Humanitarian Shelter and Settlements report and author of the 2019 ODI/ALNAP Urban Humanitarian Response Good Practice Review. David holds a PhD in urban vulnerability. He has sat on a number of NGO committees and boards.