Challenging Approaches to Academic Career-Making: Book Launch & Discussion

You are invited to the launch of a new book in the CGHE Bloomsbury Higher Education Series, Challenging Approaches to Academic Career-Making.

The book reports on research undertaken in the ESRC/Research England Centre for Global Higher Education, hosted by the University of Oxford’s Department of Education and IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education.

The event will be introduced by Professor Simon Marginson, Professor of Higher Education at the University of Oxford and Director of CGHE. This will be followed by a presentation by Dr Celia Whitchurch, Honorary Associate Professor at IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education, and lead author of the book.

Celia Whitchurch will outline the book’s findings. These identified a shift towards ‘concertina-like’ careers, in which individuals stretch the spaces and timescales available to them, so that the process of career-making expands and contracts in relation to the different spaces in which individuals find themselves over extended time periods. Underpinning this process, the concept of ‘career scripts’ is used to described how the career paths of individuals may be informed not only by formal career structures (represented by Institutional scripts) but also by activity associated with professional practice (represented by Practice scripts), and by personal strengths, interests and commitments (represented by Internal scripts). This, in turn, has led to new forms of activity, across both the formal institutional economy, consisting of, for example, promotion criteria and prescribed career pathways; and the informal institutional economy, represented by personal interests and initiatives, professional relationships and networks, that may be unique to the individual. The ‘concertina’ process also enables individuals to address a series of common misalignments and disjunctures within formal institutional economies, including, for example, those associated with disciplinary and departmental affiliations, job profiles, progression criteria, and work allocation models. These more fluid approaches to careers have implications for institutional practices, for example in relation to promotion and progression routes, and the optimisation of individual career aspirations in the context of institutional missions.