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Celebrating Higher Education Symposium
November 14-15, 2018

Keynote Speaker

We are delighted to announce that Dr Tai Peseta, Senior Lecturer, Learning Transformations at Western Sydney University will be the Conference's keynote speaker.

How can we ‘teach the University’?


As a precursor to celebrating higher education, I want to bring alive Jeffrey J. Williams’s vision that we should ‘teach the University’ to students. In making the case that the University is a topic of genuine curiosity and fascination, Williams saw the classroom as the place for such an inquiry, a place where the University could be grasped via history, philosophy, sociology, economics and cultural studies. The classroom, Williams suggests, needs to be reclaimed as a place that joins students to “the ways and means of the world they are in, and what it [the University] does to and for them” (Williams, 2008:26). ‘Teach the University’ is an attractive pedagogical proposition, offering something of a welcome counter-argument to long-standing narratives about the uncertain state of contemporary higher education. In this talk, I want to tease out how we might rethink the classroom – and by extension – the idea of curriculum to ‘teach the University’ as sites of radical possibility that help us and students, both celebrate and interrogate higher education. In doing so, I offer three educational practices from my work with colleagues. The first is an undergraduate student partnership initiative - the co-design of a new unit #WeAreTheUniversity: students as co-creators of change. The second is taken from an Australian research project on reframing the PhD (Barrie et al., 2016), which expands Golde and Walker’s (2006) notion of disciplinary stewardship. And the last is a staff Reading Group established with colleagues intended for us to deliberate on, and confront our own and each other’s, ‘ideas of the University’ (Peseta et al., 2018). In offering these modest proposals for consideration and conversation, I invite you to think with me, and to share with each other, the kinds of pedagogical practices you are engaged in that ‘teach the University’ both in, and out, of the classroom.


Dr Tai Peseta is Senior Lecturer, Learning Transformations at Western Sydney University where she is the Academic Lead on the 21st Century Curriculum Project. She is a Senior Fellow of, and Accreditor for, the Higher Education Academy UK, and an international fellow with the Research Institute for Higher Education, Hiroshima University. She is a higher education researcher, teacher and doctoral supervisor with an orientation to the field of Critical University Studies. Tai has published in a number of areas, among them, academic identities/practices, the idea of the University, doctoral curriculum, and academic development. She sits on the editorial board of Teaching in Higher Education (TiHE), and has been on the editorial teams of Higher Education Research & Development (HERD) journal from 2011-2016 and the International Journal for Academic Development (2007-2011). Tai has been co-editor of three journal special issues, the most recent ‘Academic life in the measured university: pleasures, paradoxes and politics’ (for HERD 2017) and ‘Curriculum as Contestation’ (for TiHE 2016). Tai currently leads an international research project to assemble a cultural history of the Academic Identities conference, and with a team of colleagues, has just completed an Australian project on reviving stewardship in the design of doctoral education. Tai tweets semi-enthusiastically @tpeseta.

Higher education is rapidly changing, and while we often focus on new challenges, we rarely spend time exploring and celebrating its promise, possibilities, and achievements. The University of Otago is unique in New Zealand in having an academic department committed to the advancement of Higher Education research, teaching, and academic development, namely the Higher Education Development Centre (HEDC). This year marks the HEDC’s 40th anniversary, and we invite you to join us for a Symposium celebrating all aspects of higher education.

An anniversary is an opportune time to reflect on the past, grapple with the present, and envision new futures. We welcome conference abstracts on any aspect of higher education, and at any scale: individual, departmental, divisional, institutional, national, or international. Proposed abstracts will share empirical or conceptual research, and/or examples of best practice relating to teaching, learning, research, or academic work more broadly.
Our intent is that you will leave the Symposium feeling reinvigorated and reconnected with ideas that will enhance your academic practice.

We invite you to consider the following questions when developing proposals:
• What is the purpose of higher education?
• How has higher education changed over time?
• What does it mean to be an academic, teacher, and/or researcher in higher education?
• What can higher education offer that is unique and important in our current context (local, national, international), and our current time?
• What kind of higher education might be needed for/in the future?
• Who is the university for? How has this changed over time?
• Who is currently included/excluded in higher education, and how might we change that?
• What does a ‘good university’ look like?
• What kind of university do we want to create?
• What principles, theories, opinions, and/or values underpin our current practices?
• Where did these originate? What are their strengths and weaknesses?

Session Formats

We invite abstracts for conceptual, research and/or practice-based sessions. There are three options for session formats. All sessions should include an interactive element.
• Presentations: 25 minutes, including 10 minutes of discussion
• Workshops: 55 minutes
• Panel sessions: 55 minutes

Abstract length: 300 words, not including references

Important Dates

• Late July 2018: Proposal submission system and registration open (links will be available through the Symposium website)
• September 4, 2018: Proposal submission deadline
• Late September 2018: Notification of proposal acceptance
• October 31st: Registration deadline
• November 14-15, 2018: Symposium

Proposal selection criteria

• Deepens understanding/awareness of issues related to higher education teaching, learning, administration, or research
• Proposal ideas situated within relevant literature or practice-based evidence
• Relevant to people across disciplines
• Clarity of intended session objectives/learning outcomes
• Appropriate engagement of Symposium participants
• Overall clarity of proposal
(Please note that we may not be able to accept all proposals).