With a research focus on social marketing and behaviour change, Professor Linda Brennan wants to help people to help themselves towards leading "better", healthier and happier lives.
Australia is struggling with obesity, drugs, inequality and other social issues, but Brennan says often these are normal human responses to abnormal environments.
She describes her most significant career moment as meeting the Dalai Lama at a World Social Marketing Conference, where she was one of the keynote speakers.
His ability to completely and silently silence a room (at a pre-conference cocktail function), just by being present, was truly awe-inspiring.
What excites you most about your work?
I love humans. Understanding them (us) is going to take longer than I have to live, and as things change every day, the learning never stops.
I believe that humans need humanity to survive, so I like to look for humanistic responses to behaviour change with my research.
How will you take your research forward?
My research will adapt to whatever the most pressing social issues of the day are. I am never going to be bored, but I will probably still be begging for funds every year.
This mainly occurs because of what is considered "most pressing" changes on a regular basis, and while it is an issue based on an accumulation of policy, practice and performance, it is completely unpredictable in my line of work (I should have tried economics, perhaps).
How have you collaborated with other academics or industry in your research?
Collaboration was something I discovered early in my career when I realised I couldn’t press send by myself. Collaborators bring a richness of "other" to my research that has increased impact overall.
I have always worked with industry and government over long periods of time. For example, a recent campaign we have collaborated on has been water safety for older Australians.
This involved Evergreen Marketing Communications, the Royal Life Saving Society, Glen Donnar and Lukas Parker and the Department of Justice.
It’s fun to play with real advertising from time to time and I can do this from the ivory tower.
What drew you to RMIT?
RMIT is second to none for connection to a "real" world. I came back to RMIT because it allows me the opportunity to be "me" in my research and in terms of the application of research to a very real world.
The people who work in the School of Media and Communication are an outstanding bunch of scholars who challenge my thinking and this results in better outcomes for collaboration.
Over the next few years, what are the biggest challenges and what holds the most promise in your field?
Over the next few years, I think that funding for research in the social sciences (aka my field of research) will get tighter and tighter.
Cash strapped governments want to see immediate return on investment and convincing them that it takes 15 to 20 years to see a social change outcome is unlikely.
In terms of promise, I am an eternal optimist, so everything is promising.
Story: Wendy Little