Posted: July 15, 2020 by zombieacademy in Academy, Readings

Secrecy and Tradecraft in Educational Administration: The Covert Side of Educational Life.

Posted: July 15, 2020 by zombieacademy in Academy, Brains, Readings, Teaching

Bullshit Towers.


See also this.

Posted: July 10, 2020 by zombieacademy in Academy, Uncategorized

An open letter from the Australian academic community.

Posted: June 24, 2020 by zombieacademy in Academy, Readings

Co-operative universities: A bibliography


Posted: June 22, 2020 by zombieacademy in Academy, Uncategorized
Tags: ,


In a gratifying vindication of the effectiveness of decades of rigorous cultural Marxism and deplatforming on campus, on Friday the education minister, some guy, produced an effort to mangle public funding for most humanities and social sciences education in Australia. Exhibiting a cavalier disregard for empirical reality, this incompetent and unconvincing manoeuvre is of a piece with the short-sighted and vindictive ideological approach taken by the current government to higher education. Savaging local economies during a recession, exacerbating already chronic precarity in the sector, and insulting low-income and female school leavers, the minister fails to comprehend that these people are even more worrying when recognising and defending their common interests than when toiling in their overcrowded Zoom tutorials and online forums. Look out, we’re onto you.

Call for book chapter contributions:

Doing Academic Careers Differently: Portraits of academic life

Editors: Sarah Robinson, University of Glasgow; Alexandra Bristow, The Open University; Olivier Ratle, University of the West of England.

Academic career trajectories have for some time been becoming more normative and prescribed. Ideals of what makes a good or successful academic are increasingly seen through the achievement of various institutionally set targets such as publications in top journals and high teaching scores, and through performance management systems which routinely review individuals across a considerable number of pre-determined criteria. Academics are encouraged to carefully cultivate their ‘research profiles’ and digital presence, displaying their ‘H index’ scores, high-level publications and esteem factors and publicly showing allegiance to such externally set manifestations of ‘excellence’ (Butler and Spoelstra, 2012, 2014).

Anxiety to achieve such targets is high and academia is currently fundamentally unhealthy (Bristow et al., 2019), experiencing an ‘epidemic of poor mental health’ (Morrish, 2019) with widespread academic anxiety and insecurity (Bristow et al., 2017; Knights and Clarke, 2014; Smith and Ulus, 2019). A recent Twitter thread notoriously recounted that some successful academics regularly have 100-hour working weeks. How sustainable is such a model and at what costs does such success come? Perhaps implied in such expectations are views of the ‘ideal’ academic worker – maybe someone who is young, without caring commitments, without disability and prepared to engage with academia in very narrowly prescribed terms not of their own making. Perhaps also someone who is prepared and willing to identify a small research niche and to research and publish in this area for many years, targeting (only) the highest ranked journals in the field. Although this is a widespread phenomenon which talks to wider issues of Higher Education governance and management, it has been noted that business and management school academics have been particularly badly affected by the excesses of managerialism and control mechanisms (Huzzard et al., 2017; Kallio et al., 2016; Ratle et al., 2020).

In this climate, normative advice is given to prospective academics as to how to enter and survive academic life: you have to ‘play the game’, to have senior (often male) champions and mentors, you need to be well networked and ‘known’, you need to be visible both internationally at conferences and on social media. Such requirements imply global mobility and assume Western, masculinist interactive norms. How many of the current academic bodies fit, or wish to comply to such norms? The exclusionary nature of such expectations, practices and assumptions needs now to be critically interrogated.

The current Covid-19 crisis adds and will continue to add new levels of complexity to what it means to be an academic in the 21st century. This includes the increasing blurring of home and work boundaries and the rapid digitalization and technologization of academic work. For some, the pandemic may offer time for reflection on their careers to date. For others, the pressing need to balance home and caring responsibilities within a ‘working day’ may bring into sharp focus the growing rigidity of academic workloads and the impossibility of doing everything well. The need to reskill and adapt to different ways of teaching and learning design as well as to respond to mixed institutional messages may also bring new levels of anxiety and confusion. Tensions and contradictions concerning the nature of academic careers before and after the pandemic abound.

As such, this book aims to add to and develop critical academic career studies and critical university studies by challenging orthodoxies and power relations in academic career trajectories. Given the increased pressure to conform to norms and the potential challenges of the (post-)pandemic world, we wish to illustrate how alternative career trajectories can be possible and, in many cases, preferable and advantageous. We wish to do so by providing an outlet for those doing careers differently and/or not conforming to stereotypical academic norms and roles to tell their own stories on their own terms. In so doing we intend to disrupt the implicit discourse of the ideal academic type (e.g. male, Western, free of responsibilities, able-bodied, 100-hour per week working), thus questioning the sustainability of current ‘required’ trajectories and the system this supports.

Most importantly, through the contributions in this book we wish to advise and encourage those starting or considering an academic career in these challenging times, that there are many ways of acquiring and conducting such careers outside of the dominant discourses. Finally, we hope this compilation of insights into alternative academic lives will help to inspire and encourage current academics to re-think and take ownership of their careers according to their own terms.

In inviting contributions this book asks:

1. Are there more inclusive and less prescriptive ways of being an academic which play to individual strengths, motivations and vocations?
2. What lies behind the homogenised institutionalised masks (profiles) we show to the world? What tensions and contradictions have individual academics struggled with? What paths have not been taken or what stories lie hidden or untold?
3. What alternative academic trajectories have been taken that others can learn and take inspiration from?
4. How does the pandemic inform our understanding of academic careers, and how might ways of doing academia differently develop in the post-pandemic world?

In this book we would like to see these questions addressed through the stories of different academic authors from different stages of their careers and from different parts of the world who, through choice or circumstance, do not (fully) play the game/conform to the norms outlined above, thus challenging orthodoxies and inspiring ways of doing academic work differently. We encourage authors to come out from behind their official ‘profiles’ and instead to paint an individual or group self-portrait which reflects individual and/or shared struggles, contradictions and hidden stories. Provocatively, we encourage authors to choose and work with a metaphor or epithet for their self-portrait which in some way challenges current notions of the neoliberal academic. Some indicative suggestions are given below. These are deliberately ambiguous and open to authors’ interpretations however, so contributions are by no means confined to the following:

*   The accidental academic
*   The scatter-gun researcher
*   The caring academic
*   The non-institutionalised academic
*   The public intellectual
*   The part-time academic
*   The hidden talents academic
*   The activist academic/the academic activist
*   The veiled academic
*   The collective academic
*   The vagabond/tourist academic
*   The portfolio academic
*   The naked academic
*   The secret academic
*   The refusenik academic
*   The sustainable academic
*   The pandemic/post-pandemic academic

It is envisaged that most contributions will come from Business School based academics/management and organisation scholars, however contributions from other related disciplines are also welcome.

We are currently under negotiations with the publisher Routledge and would envisage a publication date of 2022. It is anticipated that final chapter length will be between 6,000-8,000 words inclusive of references. However, shorter contributions will be considered. Contributions using non-traditional ways of academic writing (Gilmore et al., 2019) and expression are also welcome.

Please submit expressions of interest in the form of a 500-word abstract to:<><><>

Abstract Deadline: 1st July 2020

Provisional Timeline:

*   Notifications of acceptance 28th August 2020
*   Full chapters required by 7th January 2021


Bristow, A., Robinson, S.  and Ratle, O. (2019) Academic arrhythmia: disruption, dissonance and conflict in the early-career rhythms of CMS academics. Academy of Management Learning and Education, 18(2): 241-260.

Bristow, A., Robinson, S.  and Ratle, O. (2017) Being an early-career CMS academic in the context of insecurity and ‘excellence’: the dialectics of resistance and compliance. Organization Studies, 38(9): 1185-1207.

Butler, N. and Spoelstra, S. (2012) Your Excellency. Organization, 19(6): 891-903.

Butler N. and Spoelstra, S. (2014) The regime of excellence and the erosion of ethos in Critical Management Studies. British Journal of Management, 25(3): 538-550.

Gilmore, S., Harding, N., Helin, J. and Pullen, A. (2019) Writing Differently. Management Learning, 50(1): 3-10.

Huzzard, T., Benner, M. and Kärreman, D. (eds) (2017) The Corporatization of the Business School: Minerva Meets the Market. London: Routledge.

Kallio, KM., Kallio, TJ., Tienari, J.  (2016) Ethos at stake: Performance management and academic work in universities. Human Relations, 69(3): 685-709.

Knights, D. and Clarke, C. (2014) It’s a bittersweet symphony, this life: fragile academic selves and insecure identities at work. Organization Studies, 35(3): 335-357.

Morrish, L. (2019) Pressure Vessels: The epidemic of poor mental health among higher education staff, HEPI Occasional Paper 20. London: Higher Education Policy Institute. Available at:

Ratle, O., Robinson, S., Bristow, A. and Kerr, R. (2020) Mechanisms of micro-terror? Early career CMS academics’ experiences of ‘targets and terror’ in contemporary business schools. Management Learning. OnlineFirst.

Smith, C., and Ulus, E. (2019) Who cares for academics? We need to talk about emotional wellbeing including what we avoid and intellectualize through macro-discourses. Organization, OnlineFirst: 1-18.

In a matter of months, the world has changed beyond recognition. Covid-19 has led to an unprecedented reorganisation of everyday life, with half the world’s population subject to lockdown measures at the peak of governmental response to the pandemic. These measures are being eased across the world, with uncertain and worrying consequences in the continued absence of the vaccine which would herald a potential resolution of the current situation. In its continued absence we face the necessity of institutionalising what has been called ‘social distancing’ but is perhaps better described as ‘physical distancing’, given the capacity of digital platforms to facilitate social interaction without the co-presence which is still frequently seen as its defining characteristic.

The impending arrival of the forthcoming academic year means we urgently need to grapple with what this crisis means for the future of the university. How will higher education be transformed by lockdown and social distancing? What university do we hope to work within after this crisis? What contribution should we make to building this post-pandemic university? The current operations of the university are reliant on the affordances of digital platforms and this seems likely to grow in the coming years, even if some face to face meetings resume in the name of blended learning and research capacity. This includes digital platforms like Microsoft Teams and Zoom being incorporated into the core operations of the university in a manner which is likely to be difficult to unwind at a later date, as much as it has served a clear purpose in the present crisis. For this reason it’s essential we begin to incorporate the socio-technical into our established accounts of higher education, opening up the ‘black box’ in order to understand the role played by technology in building the post-pandemic university.

However while we see digital technology as playing a crucial role in response to this crisis, the questions which the sector faces are much more than technical ones. Our intention is to facilitate a conversation which bridges theory and practice, analysis and intervention, animated by a shared concern about what this crisis means for the university and how we ought to respond to it. If we want to understand the challenges facing higher education, it is imperative this encompasses the range of potential responses to these difficulties and the interests and ideals served by these for the multitude of groups who will play a part in building the post-pandemic university. We hope this will be a broad and multifaceted conversation which brings together multidisciplinary expertise engaging with an eclectic range of topics rotating around the core problematic of ‘building the post-pandemic university’. We imagine this would include themes such as:

  • The built environment of the campus and how it is likely to change
  • The enactment of social distancing across the university’s activities
  • The impact of the pandemic on racialised, classed and gendered injustice
  • The implications of these changes for equality & diversity within the university
  • The impact of Covid-19 on the challenge of climate change
  • The search for new markets and products by education investors
  • The public role of the university and transition out of the crisis
  • Equality and diversity in the post-pandemic university
  • The geo-politics of Covid-19 and its relationship to global higher education
  • The challenge of academic mobility and the potential demise of the global conference circuit
  • The surveillance architecture inherent in the turn towards platforms
  • Labour relations during the crisis and what this means for the post-pandemic university

These are only suggestions and we welcome contributions on any topic which speaks to the broader theme of building the post-pandemic university, particularly if they also contribute to a broader exercise of mapping out the contours of the present crisis and possible transitions from it.

Please send 300 word abstracts to by July 31st with the subject line ‘Building the Post-Pandemic University’. We aim to inform contributors of acceptance by August 10th for an online conference due to take place on September 18th. We hope this event will be the starting point for an edited book so please indicate when submitting your abstract if this is something which you might be interested in contributing to.

We will release full details of the conference format soon after the confirmation of acceptance but at this stage we expect the bulk of the event to take place through Zoom with an as yet to be confirmed asynchronous component which will extend participation beyond those who are speaking at the conference.

Posted: June 15, 2020 by zombieacademy in Brains
Tags: , ,

Step 1: get ready for the survey! If you have any questions about it, direct them to your employer (not the people doing the survey, obviously! That’d be like ‘taking ownership’ for the work you’re getting paid to do. Work that involves facilitating unemployment for other people).

UOW_COVID_19_Financial_Impact_Consultation_Survey_Voice_Project 1

Step 2: Here’s a description of the options. They involve pay cuts and job losses at this rate over that time frame, or that rate over this time frame. If you don’t like those, there is a nuclear option, with no pay cuts, but a number of job losses so scary it cannot be specified.

UOW_COVID_19_Financial_Impact_Consultation_Survey_Voice_Project_Page_3_of_4_Pages 2

Step 3: OK, go ahead and choose some options.

UOW_COVID_19_Financial_Impact_Consultation_Survey_Voice_Project_Page_4_of_4_Pages 3

Step 4: Surprise! You are forced to rank the ‘options’ by ‘preference’ in order to complete the survey.

UOW_COVID_19_Financial_Impact_Consultation_Survey_Voice_Project_Page_4_of_4_Pages 4

This survey was brought to you by the voice project – ‘improving organisations by giving people a voice’. This is an example of a technology called ‘consultation’ in contemporary universities (this one, in this instance). Your preference as to how many people should lose their jobs is important and will inform decision-making! Well done voice project for leading the way here in ethical and methodological innovation. You are sure to earn admiration for your commitment to robust survey design. Be the change you want to see!

Posted: June 9, 2020 by zombieacademy in Brains, Politics, Readings, Research, Teaching

Literate people (not us) have assembled some reading:

Racial Justice Reading List & Resources

is this moment radicalizing you? let’s get some readings lined up for you. a thread

Revolutionary Study Guide


See also, White Academia: Do Better


Hashtag Syllabus Project





Posted: May 11, 2020 by zombieacademy in Academy

The ‘no concessions’ position, detailed.