How our academics are building a brighter future. Meet Lauren O’Mahony, Communications lecturer.

Communications lecturer Lauren O’Mahony has taught critical thinking to thousands of students over the last two decades.

This is a shared journey that welcomes anyone who wants to make the world a better place. Meet a passionate Global Media and Communication lecturer who has been on Murdoch’s team for more than two decades.

A university degree offers so much, but one of the most important aspects is not what to think, but how. 

It’s a crucial skill for the 21st century that cannot be underestimated. It means being able to evaluate information critically, confront personal biases and reasoning errors, and consider opposing views. But where do you learn this? And who are the academics performing this essential role?  

Meet Lauren O’Mahony, Senior Lecturer at Murdoch University’s School of Media and Communication. This is her story, educating and guiding thousands of future students as they make their mark on the world. 

It’s almost poetic that Lauren forged her career in the very place she enrolled as a young student, fresh out of high school and ready to think big. 

“I started as an undergraduate in 1997 majoring in English and Comparative Literature, then soon took on another major, Criminology. I decided to go on to my Honours in Literature then a PhD in Communication,” she said. “While completing my PhD, I taught various units, then an opportunity to teach the first students in the Murdoch Dubai study centre came up and I embraced that. Two years later I came back to South Street to work in the School of Media and Communication and finish my PhD – and I’m still here.” 

In essence, I came to Murdoch originally to study for three years and stayed more than 25 years."

For an educator, there’s great joy in seeing the dawn of realisation on a student’s face when everything clicks, and to see their thinking grow in maturity. This is something Lauren gets to experience regularly with her work at the School of Media and Communication

“I love to support students with the development of their critical thinking. I enjoy seeing the lightbulb go on when they process a new idea or example or grapple with a complex issue. 

“I don’t believe my role as a teacher is to tell students what to think, rather I believe my role is to teach them how to think, especially in critical, analytical and creative ways. I hope that working with students to build their thinking muscles will assist them to think more carefully about what matters to them in their own lives.” 

I enjoy teaching students how to think.”

At Murdoch, we know this is a teachable skill relevant across all fields of study, and it is embedded in our strategy, Ngala Kwop Biddi, Building a Brighter Future Together. This is our shared purpose to change lives and society for the better.  

There are three pillars which guide our efforts: Sustainability; Equity, Diversity and Inclusion; and First Nations. For Lauren, all three have a role to play in her teaching and research. However as sustainability has become increasingly urgent, she said it has become important to address this particular pillar in her specialist area of Global Media and Communication. For example, her students analyse media representations of human-animal world relationships, and consider sustainability efforts without the narrow lens of black vs. white or right vs. wrong.  

“We can only solve complex and wicked problems together. Only together, sometimes with unexpected combinations of people, can we drive the creative ideas and innovations that will ultimately lead to the solutions we need,” Lauren said. 

I have sustainability and environmental issues embedded into all of the units I coordinate.” 

“I aim to give students opportunities to reflect on sustainability, environmental issues, climate change in relation to the media and culture. I believe it is important students have opportunities to discuss these issues and encounter different viewpoints and examples. Part of their training in critical thinking is learning ways to navigate complex issues that don’t always have consensus views associated with them,” she said.  

For Lauren, it’s an honour to join the next generation on their learning journey and see them achieve the goals they set for themselves. And so many of them have gone on to great things, including Journalism-Law graduate Zahra al Hilaly who was named WA Young Person of the Year 2022 and Mission Australia Young Changemaker Award Winner. 

My greatest achievement is seeing students I have taught or supervised on the graduation stage.” 

“I feel that being nominated for the Excellence in Postgraduate Research Supervision in 2022 and receiving the Vice Chancellor’s Teaching Excellence Award in 2013 are probably my greatest achievements. Both nominations suggest to me that I have made a difference in the lives of the students I have taught and supervised,” she said. 

Ngala Kwop Biddi isn’t just in what we say; it’s in what we do. Murdoch has been a pioneering university from the first day our doors opened in 1974, and we’re ready to take on the future, with a community of students, staff and alumni committed to Building a Brighter Future, Together.  

Posted on:

18 Jan 2024

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