writer | educator/trainer | arts/event specialist
Simon Clews is an Honorary (Senior Fellow) at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, a joint initiative of the University of Melbourne and the Royal Melbourne Hospital. Here he advises on communication and engagement. He is also Event Producer of The Sophia Club, an exciting new initiative from Aeon and Psyche magazines, which will see philosophy meet live performance on stage in Melbourne, London and New York. Prior to this for fifteen years he was the Director of the Melbourne Engagement Lab at Melbourne University where enhanced the reputation of a world leading and innovative university through training, encouraging and facilitating some of Australia’s brightest minds to make their work accessible to non-academic audiences. This unique place supported postgraduate students, early career researchers and academic staff as they transformed their research into writing for non-specialist audiences. Graduates of the Lab’s programs published everything from award-winning books to trend-setting blogs, including articles, newspaper columns, opinion pieces and essays.
Simon has also worked with writers and academics around the world to help them improve their written and oral communication and develop their careers as effective communicators and providers of creative, well-written non-fiction for non-academic audiences. If you are interested in working with Simon, you can read more here.
And Simon has published a book designed to help academics write, communicate and engage with the outside world, titled The New Academic, out with NewSouth Books, and available in all good bookshops (and even some of the bad ones too!) and online. For more information, check out the books page.
In keeping with his passion for researchers communicating their stories to as wide an audience as possible, Simon is a huge supporter of the Three Minute Thesis and Visualise Your Thesis competitions. He has been heavily involved in both competitions from the outset and offers one-on-one and group training for competitors. And now you can give yourself a bit of a competitive edge if you’re going to enter your local 3MT with Simon’s guide to the Three Minute Thesis competition, Your Time Starts Now! – out now with Thesis Whisperer Books. Check out the books page for more on this.
Prior to taking on the inaugural directorship of the Melbourne Engagement Lab, Simon took the fledgling Melbourne Writers’ Festival and over fourteen years placed it firmly on the world stage. After that for many years Simon was Creative Program Director for Melbourne’s Reader’s Feast book store producing ten iterations of Crime & Justice, a celebration of crime writing and social justice, and the History Writers Festival. And his literary event experience extends well beyond his time as Festival Director and CEO of Melbourne Writers’ Festival and his work with Reader’s Feast – Simon was responsible for programming Stories Alive, a large-scale celebration of writing for children at Hamer Hall, Writers on Collins, a city precinct literary program and two site-specific literary celebrations – Writers at the Convent and Writers at Como. In total he has staged nearly forty major literary events, in addition to dozens and dozens of smaller events, and has presented well over 3,000 writers to a combined audience of nearly half a million book lovers. Put simply – Simon knows books, writing and events!
And, while Simon has had his fair share of praise and accolades over the years, some are more memorable than others; in 2002 the French Government honoured Simon’s contribution to the promotion of French culture in Australia by awarding him the French Flair Award. As well as some very flattering speeches, a meal to die for and much kissing on both cheeks, he received a bronze casting of Degas’ La Danseuse from the Louvre and a magnum of Pol Roger. The statue still proudly adorns a shelf in his office. The Pol Roger – sadly – is long gone.
And, if you haven’t read enough about Simon here, you can read the back story to all this here.