• Making a difference


      Work/life experiences of Brookes’ academics

  • Making a Difference

    For many of the academic staff, making a difference was a key motivation. This was construed in many different ways and applied to both work and home.

  • For Orit Sarfatti, for example, making a difference was about being ethical in every aspect of her life. She chose to move into architecture because she felt that it was a path that connects to people’s lives directly. In her teaching, she gets most reward out of encouraging students to take seriously the social side of architecture. At home, her family includes two adopted children, with Orit feeling that it’s important to help and have a social imprint in every way you can.

    Catherine Dilnot is proud of the impact that she is having on education policy:

    What I really like is that my work does seem to be making a difference now in policy. So I know that Justine Greening, Secretary of State for Education has read a paper that has come out.

    Catherine Dilnot, Accounting, Finance and Economics

    For many colleagues, making a difference was about their research having a social impact.

    Professor Linda King established a successful spin out company with her husband which disseminates the research she has done into viruses, and she finds the fact that this can be used to develop vaccines for serious diseases extremely fulfilling.

    For Professor Christiana Payne, making a difference is about impacting the way people see things:

    Success is being able to change the way people think and getting them to look at things.

    Professor Christiana Payne, History of Art

    Other colleagues saw their impact as being generated through the teaching part of their job. Many discussed the “moment when it clicks” with students as being one of the highlights of their work and a key motivating factor.

    Dr Katja Graumann and Kate Clayton-Hathway echo many staff at Brookes when they discuss the sense of reward that comes from impacting on students’ lives:

    Knowing you make a difference in a person’s life; that’s quite nice.

    Dr Katja Graumann, Cell Biology

    I’ve been teaching in some form or another for 25 years or something. And I’m very proud of that. I know I’ve made a positive contribution to some people’s lives. So that’s really important to me.

    Kate Clayton-Hathway, School of Law

    Some colleagues also discussed the happiness they felt when they heard about what their students had gone on to do. Dr Igea Troiani, a senior lecturer in architecture, finds that when students go on to start their own practices, she feels a personal sense of success. Dr Kate Ringham, who teaches in the Oxford School of Hospitality Management, takes immense pleasure in seeing her students succeed, often overcoming significant challenges in their own lives.

    Making a difference had in fact inspired some colleagues to make the move into academia from other professions. Kate Clayton-Hathway, for example, transferred to the University from a highly successful career in the private sector. She is also among a number of colleagues whose commitment to social justice means that she also has additional roles outside the University – with local charities. For Professor Nigel Crook, these energies are directed towards his tireless work with the church. Nigel preaches about six times a year and has written a course on discipleship which is in the process of being rolled out.