COVID-19

With Crawford in rain or shine: Meet Alison Cumming Thom

19 May 2020

Crawford School introduces our fantastic staff, so you can meet the people of Asia and the Pacific’s leading graduate policy school.

This time around, we talk to the Manager of Teaching and Learning, Alison Cumming Thom, about developing Crawford degrees, and how to calm your mind through keeping your hands busy in times of COVID-19 and social isolation.

What is your role at Crawford School and what do you enjoy most about it?

I am the Manager of Teaching and Learning and what I enjoy most is the extraordinary diversity, quality and passion of our teaching group, and students. I feel so lucky to have the chance to do creative work with and for these people. I’ve been with the School through many of its stages of evolution (and names!) - and that diversity, quality and passion have been a constant.

Can you tell us about one of your personal highlights working at Crawford School?

When the new Master of Public Policy was launched a few years ago, it was the cumulation of a deep, creative, difficult reimagining of the degree, and extensive thoughtful course design, with a crack team of academics. It also required genuine collaboration (and extensive diplomacy) across campus, national and international stakeholders and advisors, and reflective feedback from students and alumni. Being part of this project team, led by Associate Professor Carolyn Hendriks, which spoke so strongly to my values, and offered the activities I love best, was a real highlight. Seeing the degree take off and the commitment of the faculty was, and is, inspiring.

If you could go back and choose a different career path, what would it be?

Hmmm, my alternative reality would probably be running a bookshop, with great coffee – a place for individuals and groups to find what nourishes them. Oh, and there would be an extensive cocktail list.

What do you enjoy most about working from home/ what do you miss most?

What I enjoy most is the freeing-up that constraint has brought – to imagine new ways of doing things, of connecting with people. That and the chance to have quick tea breaks in the garden, with or without the dog and the family. What I miss most are the corridor conversations about teaching and hearing the buzz of great classes going on around the building.

Can you give us your top three tips about how to stay positive during the COVID-19 outbreak?

Dance! Solo or with others. I share a quick bop at the end of the day with distant friends. Be kind - to yourself and others. Early in the lockdown I read the expression ‘sometimes we do less because we’re dealing with more’ – taking the boot of criticism off our necks frees us up to do the best we can. Use your hands - engage in some slow stitching, or mending, or knitting, or welding or anything that calms the mind by occupying the hands. We have started in Crawford a group called Crafting Crawford that meets Tuesday afternoons from 3-3.30pm for a cuppa and a share of what we are making, tips, questions, sharing of skills. Anybody can join. We are very happy to help people who have never done anything of the sort before too. Just drop me a line!

Filed under:

Updated:  28 September 2020/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team