Theme 4: Reimagining academia

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Theme 4: Reimagining academia


  • Like [the pleasure of wearing] a loose-fitting garment – finding liberating and enabling ways to wear an academic life
  • Activating personal and professional alchemy, kindness, movement and change in the academy

This fourth and final theme uses the metaphor of the university as an ‘infinite game’ (Harre, Grant, Locke, Sturm, 2017) to connect us to our heart for imagination, hope, and inclusion. We (re)turn to our contemplative beginnings, inward to our essence, to our own academic institutions, to our own stories and struggles as women in academia, and to our hopes and dreams to realise our potential as connected people living and working together.

In these final hours of our conference we seek to draw strength from our collective care and deep listening. We use this final theme to articulate what matters to us, and to organise ourselves towards reimagining and recreating academia. And, like the article that inspires this theme, we conclude our conference with conversations and talking of STARs (Slow, Tiny, Acts of Resistance).

In the final hours of this conference we invite you to discuss and make room for imagining, planning, and enacting small creative acts of kindness, care, hope, disruption, in the company of others. We use this theme to remember who we are, remember we are enough, that we do enough, and to commit to keeping the infinite game in play.

(Aust/NZ /South Africa/Europe time zone friendly)

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Barbara Grant 

Barbara Grant is Associate Professor in the School of Critical Studies in Education at the University of Auckland. She researches in the field of critical university studies, with a particular interest in doctoral education, including the supervision of graduate students, academic work and identities, and activism within the university. One shiFt she would like to see happen in the university is to find more collective and creative ways for academics to engage in activism that sustains and fosters the university we cherish.

Niki Harré

Niki Harré is a lecturer in the School of Psychology and Associate Dean Sustainability in the Faculty of Science at the University of Auckland. Her recent research projects have focused on sustainable communities and schools, positive youth development and political activism. She also has an irresistible urge to bite the hand that feeds her, venturing into critiques of academia in general and psychology in particular. Niki cycles to work, learns the guitar from a musician who lives on her street, and has a large organic garden thanks to her spouse. In 2007 Niki edited, with Quentin Atkinson, the book Carbon Neutral by 2020: How New Zealanders Can Tackle Climate Change. She released new two books in May 2018, The Infinite Game: How to Live Well Together and Psychology for a Better World: Working with People to Save the Planet. She would like a shift towards a world that notices people and the natural world we are part of.


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