Power & Politics in the Neoliberal University: A Dialogic Discussion

Exhausted male worker using computer in office
Public lectures / seminars

Wednesday 03 July 2024

11:30 AM - 01:00 PM

Location

JA145, Jaguar Building, Coventry University

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Event details

The topics of discussion will revolve around the political economy of neoliberalism in higher education, the politics of publishing, issues of class, race, status, and hierarchy, new managerialism, workloads and work-life balance, dealing with critical feedback and rejection, managing conflict, and staying true to your values as both an academic and a person.

Abstract

The UK Higher Education sector faces an existential crisis. Its funding model is widely recognised as ‘broken’, change has become a daily distraction, and over the past decade the research landscape has transformed beyond recognition. The outcome casts us all within a cruel and ruthless Darwinian experiment, something akin to a Netflix-inspired K-drama where only the shrewdest survive. Fail to meet the required grade of excellence and your days as an academic researcher are over!

While the refrain of each university’s corporate strategy document envisions and champions a social justice agenda and a sustainable world of wellbeing, welfare, equality, and equity - academic life for many feels antithetical to the marketed message. For example, in a recent survey of almost 1,200 UK-based HE employees, over half claim to be experiencing chronic emotional exhaustion, worry, stress, and poor mental health. Moreover, it is claimed that 50% of staff are suffering from depression while nearly 30% demonstrate the signs of burnout, feeling emotionally drained on every single day of their working lives.

So, what can we do? The problem is not trivial, and the solution is clearly not straightforward.

This seminar turns our attention towards these challenges. During the session we draw from some of our own research and an interactive dialogic discussion with session participants to consider some of the issues regarding the politics of academia and how we can navigate them.

Topics of discussion will revolve around the political economy of neoliberalism in higher education, the politics of publishing, issues of class, race, status, and hierarchy, new managerialism, workloads and work-life balance, dealing with critical feedback and rejection, managing conflict, and staying true to your values as both an academic and a person.

We consider how universities could be re-directed to serve democracy and what we can all do to achieve this.

Biographies 

Lee Quinn is Professor of Consumer Insight and Behaviour Change, and Staff Development Co-Lead at CBiS. Previously he was Senior Academic Advisor at the University of Manchester and, before that, Programme Director at the University of Liverpool Management School. His work has been funded through the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the ESRC’s Digital Social Research programme, the Chartered Institute of Marketing Charitable Trust, the Academy of Marketing, and the British Academy. He publishes widely in international peer-reviewed academic journals, has received awards for his research at international conferences, and has a successful track record of doctoral research supervision and examination.

Ross Gordon is a Professor of Behaviour & Social Change in UTS Business School, University of Technology Sydney. Ross currently serves on the WHO Technical Advisory Group on Behavioural Insights and Sciences for Health. Prior to joining UTS, Ross was a Professor at QUT (2018-2024) and served on the executive of the QUT Centre for Justice, as well as being the QUT Business School & QUT Centre for Justice ECR Programme Director. He is a former President of the Australian Association of Social Marketing (2014-2021), and former member of the Board of Directors of the International Social Marketing Association.