Dr Elizabeth Dobson started lecturing in 1998, delivering courses in music for dance and film in Scarborough where she developed a career defining interest in learning through multi-discipline collaboration. She then retrained in education research and social sciences before completing a PhD with the Open University, which examined how collaborative creativity is socially and contextually shaped within music technology.
Elizabeth has worked for four HEIs, launched several new initiatives to foster informal learning apprenticeships, with an emphasis on enabling pathways for girls and women. She is now an advocate for diversity in music technology education through her interventions, and a committee member on The National Association for Music in Higher Education.
Impact of work
Her social psychology approach to learning and creating is based on the idea that collaboration also offers the gift of confidence. In 2012 Elizabeth created ‘CollabHub’ as an extra-curricular cross-discipline community where students explore small projects together building confidence, familiarity and long-term professional relationships. Almost 1000 students have passed through this community, sharing knowledge and building projects across communities. Inspired by the success of this she started the Yorkshire Sound Women Network [YSWN] in 2015, a collective that has delivered over 30 events for over 200 women and girls interested in music technology. This has inspired several spin-off groups and generated over £11.5k of investment for publicity, events, branding and specific projects and secured a £15k Arts Council England Grant for operational development. It is evidencing an argument that a women-only community approach addresses the barriers faced by women interested in entering the technical and creative areas of the music industry.
Plans for the future
Moving forward, YSWN is becoming a formal organisation, and Elizabeth is simultaneously providing evidence on how this approach is affording new opportunities for women and girls within and beyond the formal curriculum. YSWN demonstrates how informal, low risk environments foster learning and creativity through mentoring, enabling learners to explore new partnerships and interests in a way that provides new access to established networks and institutions. By observing situated learning, undertaking longitudinal research on the YSWN community and conducting interviews with other similar groups Elizabeth is building knowledge for education with a view to opening music technology up to all people.
Senior Lecturer in Music Technology
University of Huddersfield