Critical academic development

Academic development is an area of higher education practice and scholarship in flux, shaped by and shaping various functions, identities and interests in higher education. I am interested in that which drives change for the social good within the academy and its relation to the purposes and service of academia and academics for the common good. This appears within some of the related projects below – many of them at the margins of what may be considered the ‘usual’ of academic development.

Vessel Cirlce 2

PROJECT TITLE: Teaching and Learning in Conflict and Refugee Contexts: Supporting Syrian Higher Education through Academic Development

ROLE: Lead researcher Tom Parkinson (Univ of Kent), with partners Dr Shaher Abdullateef (University of Reading), Dr Musallam Abedtalas (Mardin Artuklu University), Dr Dina Belluigi (Queen’s University Belfast), Dr Iman Sarwini (Council for At Risk Academics (previously Aleppo University)  

Academic development is a cornerstone of higher education in the global North. However, practice and research in academic development seldom address the challenges associated with higher education outside of these contexts.  Conflict and refugee contexts in particular present different challenges: physical infrastructure is damaged, resources are scarce, populations are displaced, and staff and students suffer from psychological trauma. Thousands of academics have fled Syria since 2011, resulting in a considerable deficit of knowledge and educational delivery within the country, and many academics in exile are deskilling due to inactivity and isolation. This presents grave consequences for Syrian society. There is therefore an urgent need to support and sustain Syrian higher education, both within the country and in exile. This workshop brings Syrian academics in exile in Turkey together with international counterparts working in other conflict, post-conflict and refugee contexts, alongside those working in contexts where academic development is well established and resourced.  Participants will work together to identify challenges, needs and opportunities associated with teaching and learning in Syria (and by extension other conflict and refugee contexts), map resources, and formulate strategies.

In June 2019, we will met as a network to interact with Syrian academics displaced in Turkey. 

Following this interaction, we produced the following academic texts:

Abdullateef, S., Ajaj, N., Anis, R., Shaban, F., Belluigi, D. Z. and Parkinson, T. 2020. Sharing the
burdens of responsibility for a better future in transnational academia: Reflections of displaced Syrianacademics on an atypical academic development event
. Paper accepted for ICED 2020, Zurich then online. Published in ETL Learning and Teaching Journal, Vol 2. No 2, pp. 393-396.

Belluigi, D. Z. & Parkinson, T. 2020. Building solidarity through comparative lived experiences of
post/conflict: Reflections on two days of dialogue
. Education and Conflict Review – Special Issue:
Rebuilding Syrian higher education for a stable future
3, pp.16-24. 

We worked on a number of proposals, one of which was finally selected for a GCRF AHRC project, which was unfortunately unfunded after the 2021 ODA cuts of the UK government. In the recording below, two of us as collaborators discuss the project before and after that announcement.

Vessel Cirlce 2

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