Stopping by Sally Fincher's office yesterday for a quick chat, I came across the 5 questions of power from Tony Benn, a long-time British politician and immediately thought: this would be fascinating to investigate from a disability studies point of view someday.
- What power have you got?
- Where did you get it from?
- In whose interests do you use it?
- To whom are you accountable?
- How do we get rid of you?
Other tidbits from Sally yesterday: McNay's quadrants of university organizational culture (which potentiallly make a nice little discussion with my dissertation analysis chapters, though I might save that for later writing) and the existence of the UK's "Research and Development Series," a collection of reports on fascinating topics like "how do you lead teaching at a research-focused university?" and other... things that... I am not allowed to read... until I defend, because... they're far too shiny.
But probably the most helpful bits from yesterday's conversation with Sally was the feeling of vindication that I am not, in fact, entirely inept at searching the literature. I've been searching for folks in engineering education -- and then (in mild desperation) anywhere in STEM education -- who use faculty narratives in a way that honors their mess and their complexity and their non-generalizability, non-sortability, non-resolvability, and so forth. Y'know, the sort of thing I'm trying to do. And basically, I found... Sally. And a few folks from education studies who have (almost incidentally, it seems) touched STEM. A whole slew of education studies folks, yes -- but inside my discipline, specifically looking at engineering? Not so much.
Sally pointed out to me yesterday that her own work wasn't situated in computing education -- she and Josh and the others had situated it in studies of teaching/education, and then sort of incidentally looked at computing. The other folks I've seen have done the same. It's like a bunch of people all ringed around a lake, touching the water from a shore that lets them stand on firm ground -- and me sitting there wondering "why isn't someone standing on the water?" It was one of those duh, why haven't I seen this pattern? moments. What is it about the disciplinary education of STEM (ok, engineering and perhaps computing) that makes it such a hard place for "this sort of narrative work" to root there, instead of having to root somewhere else and trellis over?
Also, Sally suggested I might want to look into Kurt Lewin's work on institutional change. He theorizes that the world needs to unfreeze to change, but also needs to re-freeze in order to preserve that change, or it will all collapse when the new thing leaves. (Sally's words, not necessarily Kurt's.) This reminded me quite a bit of John Gardner's thoughts on change and revolution... how do you strike the balance between chaos and ossification, which is the place where things are alive? Both authors are writing in ways that could feed into the ontological turn I'm attempting to articulate, and apparently am on the forefront of even if I didn't know that earlier.
Both authors are writing in ways that could feed into the ontological turn I'm attempting to articulate, and apparently am on the forefront of... even if I didn't know that earlier. That knowledge was one of the best things that I learned during my time in Manchester with Steph. I spent a good chunk of my time there asking her who'd done ontology like this before, then sputtering "what do you mean, nobody's done that yet?" It's simultaneously comforting and terrifying to have academics you respect tell you that the stuff you're doing is quite difficult and quite new; it means that my work is in the right place, and I'm making real contributions, and... oh, that's why it's hard, huh? Nobody has thought in this particular space before.