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Actions informed by values in academic development: are we exercising informed agency in the neo-liberal university?

Wednesday 3 July: Conference day one, 4:30pm – 5:30pm parallel symposium



Room 3 – 303-G15 Sem



Dr Joseph Hughes
Australian National University, Australia

Dr Claire Stocks
University of Central Lancaster, England

Dr Chris Trevitt
Australian National University, Australia



In this symposium we invite participants to enter a dialogue whose central focus is about being conscious and critical of the basis of actions in academic development work. We want to inquire into the variety of values that are brought to, imposed on and expected of academic development work. It is intended to be an inclusive dialogue, one we anticipate to be most beneficial through equitable participation from varied perspectives, not only those working as academic developers, but anyone who finds tensions (or synergy) with the expectations placed on both academics and academic developers in the burgeoning neo-liberal Higher Education climate.

We have engaged in a collaborative auto-ethnographic project to better understand how the values, expectations and experiences that we each bring to our roles as academic developers function in tension with the changes occurring in Higher Education. We have recognised in ourselves a desire to practice inclusively and collaboratively. We want to promote and facilitate on-going conversations about the larger purposes of (higher) education and what constitute appropriate academic practices, the challenges and opportunities of the current performance-driven culture and the potential to engage with and modify that culture. We have surfaced a number of barriers, often structured around a dichotomy between what we expect of ourselves, and what others (senior managers as well as the colleagues who we are tasked with ‘developing’) expect of us.

The desire for pursuing and exercising informed agency in our work is one thing; successfully navigating institutional and national political contexts in order to accomplish it (in a sustainable fashion) is another. We aim to further explore with participants the range of values that are brought to academic development work in three critical dimensions.

  1. Why do people hold these values?
  2. In what ways are these values in conflict with the current HE climate?
  3. What should we do about it?


Presentation topic


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