Academia remains alive… just needs to be more kicking!

 CMC’s Dr Richard Scullion, associate dean, recently attended the annual Society for Research in Higher Education (SRHE) in Newport, Wales to present his paper on students as producers. The event, which attracts a wide range of scholars from across all established disciplines, was also attended by CMC’s Dr Dan Jackson and Dr Sue Eccles and Media School colleagues Janie Jones, Marian Mayer and Camila Devis-Rozental. Below are Richard’s reflections on the day:

Richard 1

 It began as all such events should – with me talking to a random stranger in the steam room the night before the conference started – only to learn that he was a close colleague of an academic from Otago University (New Zealand) who I have done research with in the past! I have long ago stopped being a conference junkie….and in truth my expectations from this conference were modest; for no other reason than I tend to find large conferences like going to world-class museums – so much going on you come away scratching the surface ‘un’sated.

I read the abstracts last minute, in an attempt to weave a way through the 2 days encountering what I perceived to be papers in a similar vein to my own (a critique of current practices) ….and this time I got lucky. The first paper elaborated on the tensions increasingly apparent in those lecturers who take on a quasi-management function alongside the more traditional roles of an academic. The next talked optimistically (too much of a Pollyanna?) about some of the projects she has undertaken that have created civil pride in students and the third, a highly engaging academic, outlined some early research findings about an affective turn in liminailty within the HE context. I just knew I shouldn’t have gone to the keynote …a safe, distant rather cold talk about diversity (read inequality) in HEIs.

The highlight for me was a very thought provoking paper from a Prof at Durham who talked about notions of ‘troubling knowledge’ as a counter discourse to the prevailing marketization and managerialism rife in the sector; genuinely inspiring and so obviously the real keynote.

Richard 2Bumping into BU colleagues from the learning development team within the Media & Communications faculty was the social highlight – in a different setting we were so relaxed the discussion and ideas flowed. Camila (photo right), one of the team, points to her award-winning poster about emotional intelligence and learning. To find out more, email her at

 On the morning when my own paper was due to be delivered – a critique of ‘Student as Producer using notions of identity and practice’, I spent less time at the enormous breakfast buffet and a little time modifying my words in an attempt to capture and include some of the sprit and essence of the earlier proceedings……My contribution was situated as a call for the various pockets of reflective scholarly excellence to coalesce in some manner – indeed if I were a lead player in the SRHE I would make that one of the organisation’s aims. Another way of reading my piece was for academics to recognise just how complicit we are in a HE system increasingly predicated on market (amoral) values….ouch, I know it’s not comfortable is it?

 And here’s the BU team demonstrating just how relaxed you can be AFTER delivering your own paper at a conference.

Richard 3

One Response to “Academia remains alive… just needs to be more kicking!”

  1. Kevin Moloney

    I pick up Richard’s penultimate sentence and his comment that we are complicit in the marketisation process.Dead right. Count how many times you spot the words ‘worldclass’
    and ‘excellent’ in our corporate copy. And in emails from indviduals. And listen to what we say to clients and their parents.

    The qualities of critical distance which we apply to our teaching and research need to be inserted back into our discourse about us as a university and as providers of HE.



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