An emergency management officer and mother of three, Brid Phillips is discovering that reading Chaucer and Shakespeare can help her communicate better at home and professionally at work.
Ms Phillips is finishing her Masters degree at The University of Western Australia, finding time to study between parenting three teenage daughters and educating health professionals at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.
Ms Phillips said revisiting the classics - especially in their original written form in middle and early modern English - gave her insights into how people thought and acted in the past and led to a deeper understanding of people's behaviour today.
She said the role of cultural studies was crucial in ensuring people got the right messages about issues such as African famine and climate change.
"Science can give us the facts but people won't accept them unless they're shaped and made palatable," she said.
"I have about an hour in an emergency management lecture to give doctors and nurses an important take-home message. That message is based on decades of work in the field.
"In cultural studies, learning about people's emotions in the past can ensure that when we're dealing with critical current issues, we have the back-up research to make sure the take-home message gets through."
For her degree in Medieval and Early Modern Studies, Ms Phillips learnt Latin and Old English. She already speaks a little French. The three languages help her decode Chaucer's and Shakespeare's original words - and to share the laughter and disgust of the writers' first audiences.
Brid Phillips (+61 4) 22 948 177
Michael Sinclair-Jones (UWA Public Affairs) (+61 8) 6488 3229 / (+61 4) 00 700 783