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Accepted Presentation:

Early Career Interdisciplinary Connections: Opportunities, Blockages and Stewarding Tenacious Hope for Academic Structures that Allow us to Build Together  
Sarah-Jane Phelan (University of Sussex) Jenny Hewitt (University of Manchester University of Sussex)

Presentation short abstract:

This presentation explores how interdisciplinary collaboration requires and builds the tenacity and humility to build engaged academic careers, especially during doctoral and other early career stages, and consider what structures could help facilitate such experiences in universities of the future.

Presentation long abstract:

If academia is to usefully tackle the societal challenges we face, the structures that facilitate connection across disciplines for early career researchers is a key site of analysis and action.

The process of writing a PhD often galvanizes disciplinary and associated ideological silos, as earning and maintaining validity within one’s chosen field can appear (due, for example, to institutional and linguistic gatekeeping, intentional or otherwise). Early career researchers are often incentivised to continue in these silos until they are specialist enough, and validated as such by the (often White, masculine and Euro-centric) structures of academia, before building with those from other disciplines. The resistance of these invisible delineations can feel like a lonely, unchartered experience to Early Career Researchers.

Our proposed presentation explores our six years of experience collaborating on projects around representational justice and wellbeing, alongside our PhDs in Social Work (Jenny), and Anthropology (Sarah-Jane) departments. Our experience researching representation in children’s media and play experiences and emotional wellbeing in the classroom has been greatly enriched through our complementary disciplinary perspectives, alongside our divergent wider life experiences.

While our research has been validated, funded and supported in different ways, we have also come up against myriad blockages that discourage the collaborative engagements that could build up the confidence and skills to enable successful interdisciplinary work. Holding onto and nourishing the imperatives for our collaborative projects has required and built a tenacious hope for what these projects and wider academic-activist practices can do when collaboration flourishes from the start.

Lightning panel LP1b
What do we hope for a university of tomorrow? Transforming academia along with feminist, decolonial, anti-racist and engaged approaches II
  Session 1 Wednesday 27 July, 2022, -