Who We Are

The MFU is run by an ever-evolving group of volunteers who coordinate the courses and sessions, organise the website and communications, design posters and more. If you'd like to join us, come along to a session or send us an email. 

Current MFU convenors:

Jasmine Westendorf is a senior lecturer in International Relations at La Trobe University. She researches peace processes and civil wars, and is one of the MFU co-founders. She’s coordinated a bunch of courses over the years.

Jem has an abiding interest in finding out what he doesn’t yet know. Jem coordinated the course Indigenous perspectives: past and present and many others, and is also in charge of the admin side of the MFU.

Eloise Young is a writer, editor, project manager and strategist. She manages media and communications for the MFU. This is also what she does for a day job, minus the pub meetings. No prizes for guessing which she prefers. Eloise recently moved to Melbourne after a prolonged stint in London, working in various communications and editorial roles.

Tom Rigby is researching critical social psychology at Victoria University with a focus on discursive practices of fathering. 

Paul Mackin spends a lot of time in front of a computer. When he isn't gardening he is continuously evolving the MFU site you see before you using the Django framework.

Daniel Cox is our graphic designer extraordinaire. 

Past team and contributors:

Gerhard Hoffstaedter is a co-founder of the MFU. He a Senior Lecturer in Anthropology at the University of Queensland. His first book “Modern Muslim Identities” Negotiating Religion and Ethnicity in Malaysia is out now through NIAS Press. Gerhard coordinated  The Asia-Pacific and Us: Australia in the Region,  I (heart) Philosophy, and "What If...?" among other courses. 

Aurelien Mondon is a co-founder of the MFU. He is now an academic at the University of Bath in the UK. He researches the impact of populism and racism on parliamentary democracies & elections. Some of his writing can be found on his blog briefandfalseadvertising.net . Aurelien coordinated Australian Identities?,Racism in the 21st centuryIndigenous perspectives: past and present, & "What if...?" among other courses. 

Benjamin Portas is the genius behind the MFU's image and our original poster design. His website is benjaminportas.com.

Phoebe Bond works in climate change adaptation at Melbourne Uni. She enjoys organising events and writing. Her latest article – on how we label ourselves sexually – was published in Archer Magazine. Phoebe is programming MFU’s course on Love and Sex in the 21st Century.

Seb Prowse is Operations Manager at the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas, and a former Coordinator of the New International Bookshop at Trades Hall. Despite all that, his abiding passions are sport and electronic music. Seb is coordinating MFU’s course On Drugs.

Stephanie Downes works on medieval English and French literature. Based at the University of Melbourne since 2012, she has taught and researched in London, Paris and Sydney. She is currently funded by the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions.

Bonny Cassidy is a poet, essayist and critic. She has taught literary studies and creative writing in universities in NSW and Victoria, and developed poetry education programs with public institutions and schools.

Ben Sievewright is a graduate of the University of Melbourne’s Executive Master of Arts program. His studies have previously focussed on Anthropology and Australian History. Ben is a reviewer and published author with the journal ‘History in the Making’. He also assists the World Crafts Council – Asia Pacific Region – South Pacific, as the Director of Special Projects. Ben is coordinating the course Melbourne: Music, Memory, Place.

Morgan Macdonald is a graduate from the Australian National University’s Master of Applied Anthropology & Participatory Development & an independent researcher who has worked with Melbourne based NGOs & academics from La Trobe University. He is passionate about refugee issues & development strategies that work towards the realisation of human rights. Morgan coordinated Refugee Realities: Risk Rights & Resettlement.

Helen Addison-Smith is a chef with a PhD in creative writing, a Masters in Science Fiction Studies and no great plans for her future. She’s had her short fiction published in journals such as Overland, Island and Hecate and is the sole provider of sustenance, shelter and wholesome fun times for her six year old daughter. Helen is running the course The Naked Brunch: Food, Consumption and Culture.

Tyson Namow is a PhD candidate in Cinema Studies at La Trobe University and teaches in the areas of cinema and media. He is also a Features Film Programmer with the Human Rights and Arts Film Festival (HRAFF). You can read some of his writings on the LaTrobe Academia page. Tyson has coordinated An Introduction to the Politics of Representation and Aesthetics in Cinema.

Lyndel McLennan is a bit of a new media enthusiast! She recently returned from the UK where she worked on a Social Media Stakeholder strategy for the BBC and The Digital Fiction Factory. She has spent a good part of the last ten years working within communications and event management for the Victorian State Government, for major venues and as part of the Melbourne music community. Lyndel coordinated Media: What does the future hold?

Anna Drummond is an art historian who specialises in the Italian Renaissance, focusing particularly on art related to marriage and images of the Virgin Mary. She has lived and worked in Pisa and Venice and recently returned from a stint lecturing at the University of Nottingham. Anna is the coordinator of Politics, Pruning and Paint: Case Studies in Art History.

Tim Thornton has been lecturing in economics at Monash and La Trobe University for the last 10 years. Tim, who has just submitted his PhD on the evolution of economics teaching in Australian universities, is an award-winning teacher who is very much looking forward to being involved with Melbourne Free University. He is coordinating Economics for Everyone.

Shane Andrews built and maintained the MFU's first website. He runs itDoesCompute web design, along with nonVerbalReasoning.net and umattutor.com where he tutors for the UMAT medical entrance test & psychometric tests and has published two non-verbal reasoning UMAT specific text books: "umat456" and "umat123" 

Darren Saffin is a PR consultant who works for a wide range of clients. He has a passion for community and believes a quality education needs to be available to all.