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      MAKING A DIFFERENCE

      Work/life experiences of Brookes’ academics

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      MAKING A DIFFERENCE

      Work/life experiences of Brookes’ academics

    • Banner 3

      MAKING A DIFFERENCE

      Work/life experiences of Brookes’ academics

    • Banner 4

      MAKING A DIFFERENCE

      Work/life experiences of Brookes’ academics

    • Banner 5

      MAKING A DIFFERENCE

      Work/life experiences of Brookes’ academics

  • I am a PhD Student in Philosophy and was pleased to carry out this project as a Research Assistant with the Centre for Diversity Policy Research and Practice. Over the course of this project, I have learned a huge amount, meeting and interviewing the members of staff featured here. Despite having been at Oxford Brookes for over two years, as both a student and a member of staff, researching Making a difference: work/life experiences of Brookes’ academics has exposed me to so many aspects of the University of which I was not aware. From fascinating subjects that I had previously little to no knowledge about, to all the mentoring opportunities and institutional support systems that Brookes offers, this project has taught me a lot about the University of which I am part.

    Getting to interview so many inspirational colleagues was a wonderful experience. As someone commencing my own research career, hearing about the various routes that people had taken to get where they are, proved that there is no single path to a university career. I was surprised by the number of academics who had taken each step as it comes, so to speak. As someone without a clear sense of where I want to be in ten years’ time, it was reassuring to hear that actually such open-endedness was a familiar feeling and one perceived by many colleagues, on reflection, to be an advantage in making one open to opportunities as they come.

    Emily's Profile »
  • My first inkling, although it did not present itself as such at the time, that academia might be something that I would be suited to, came when I was doing my A-levels. I was extremely lucky to have a Politics teacher, Ms Heaton, whom I got on with extremely well, and who really opened me up to the world of political theory. I have found it interesting to hear about how many colleagues have had influential or supportive teachers or supervisors at various points in their careers, as this is something that I have certainly experienced.

    Jaqueline Heaton, with whom I remain friends to this day, encouraged me to apply for Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford, and it was there that a second academic support and friend came into my life. When I was in my final year, I started going to Feminism in Philosophy seminars, and the tutor who led these, the late Professor Pamela Anderson, became a huge source of encouragement and went on to supervise me when I stayed on to complete a master’s degree in Women’s Studies. In fact, it was Pamela who alerted me to the possibility of doing a PhD at Oxford Brookes, and so it is thanks to her that I am where I am today.

    I am now in the final year of my PhD, and I have spent the last year as a part-time research assistant to the Centre for Diversity Policy Research and Practice. I have enjoyed the experience of doing a more applied kind of research for the department, and producing reports that contribute to a policy discussion. Like many of the colleagues I interviewed, the sense of “making a difference”, or feeling that one’s research has applications, is something that resonates with me. My own research looks at the meaning of vulnerability for feminism, and in keeping with this desire to be outward-looking as a researcher, I have taken particular joy in translating some of the ideas from my research into mainstream comment articles for newspapers such as The Independent.

    I also felt an affinity with colleagues who perceived having a full home life as enabling them to do well at work. I run regularly and play football three times a week. I find that having these hobbies helps me to concentrate on my own research without it becoming entirely all-consuming. In this way, it also helps me to switch off at the end of the day and enter a completely different environment and head-space. I am sure that the commitment, competitiveness, hunger and focus required in a football match translate into a healthy confidence and inform my research as well.
    As someone who was first animated by the political possibility afforded by theory, when studying my A-levels, I would say that this is something that has stayed with me. During my undergraduate degree, I started a feminist discussion group as I wanted to bring theoretical debates and insights to bear on my own experiences, as well as those of my friends. This year, I am organising the London Free School of Applied Critical and Feminist Theory, a week-long summer school dedicated to debate and discussion in an inclusive and intimate egalitarian environment.

    Think carefully about what you want to research, and what animates you. This is what will make it a fulfilling experience, and give you the drive you need to motivate yourself. Make sure your institution caters to your topic, not vice versa.