Professor Paul Gibbs honoured as a modern heir to Newman and Mill

Professor Paul Gibbs has been honoured by the Russian Journal ‘Theoretical Research’ as a modern heir to Newman and Mill, in his prolific contribution to understanding the university as an institution that offers a special mode of human existence. To quote a translation, the journal suggests:

Newman and Mill have many modern heirs who are trying to show that the university, first of all, supports a special “mode” of human existence, and then performs all its other functions. Perhaps the most famous of these is the British educational philosopher, Paul Gibbs.

Professor Gibbs continues to bring these world-renowned insights on higher education into his teaching on the MA Higher Education, which he founded soon after arriving at Middlesex University. To find out more about the MA, visit the website.

Event: ‘Uncovering Creative Intuitions’ – A webinar with Dr Gillian Lazar

On 6th November 2020, Gillian Lazar presented to the Department of Applied Linguistics and Communication at Birkbeck University on the topic ‘Uncovering Creative Intuitions’.

What happens when we write materials for language learning, whether professionally for publication or for use with a particular group of learners we are teaching? This seminar will begin by providing some background to the field of materials writing in ELT with a brief summary of key themes. We will then explore the process of the writing from the material writer’s point of view, a perspective which has been described as surprisingly under-investigated (Tomlinson and Masuhara 2017). Previous research endorses the view that writers appear to rely heavily on their own intuitions during a highly recursive writing process, in which they balance spontaneous creativity against the constraints of a syllabus and a ‘tacit’ framework of principles (Prowse 2011; Hadfield 2014). But what kinds of intuitions inform our creativity while we write, and how do these shape our final product?

This talk will reflect on a single piece of material, designed in a specific publishing context, in order to critically analyse the intuitive processes shaping its design. This analysis is intended to identify some of the more tacit aspects which inform the work of the materials writer, including the impact of context, writing practices and sense of audience. By doing so, I hope to provide some insights into the inevitable conflicts and tensions experienced during writing, and to suggest some useful pointers for those wishing to work further in this area.

Dr Gillian Lazar is a Senior Lecturer in the Education Department at Middlesex University, where she is joint programme leader for the Post-graduate Certificate in Higher Education (PG Cert HE). As an applied linguist, she has worked as a teacher of EFL, teacher educator, lexicographer and lecturer in EAP/Academic Literacies. She has published widely on the use of literature in language teaching, figurative language and academic literacies. She is the author of Literature and Language TeachingA Window on Literature and Meanings and Metaphors, all published by Cambridge University Press.

Watch out for financial cuts and reductions in the number of higher education places, says Nick Hillman, the Director of the Higher Education Policy Institute

In a speech to the GuildHE Council on 19th November, Nick Hillman, the HEPI Director, has warned that we need to be on the look-out in upcoming government announcements for not only reductions in government expenditure on higher education, but also for attempts to reduce the number of places that are offered by higher education institutions. Read an extract from the speech on the HEPI website.

New Book: Values of the University in a Time of Uncertainty, edited by Paul Gibbs, Jill Jameson & Alex Elwick

This book:

  • Addresses issues related to trust, compassion, well-being, grace, dignity and integrity in the context of higher education
  • Emphasizes the worthiness of moral values in higher education alongside the pursuit of value for money
  • Offers an interesting context for the creation of an obligations-led university of the future

This deliberately wide-ranging book addresses issues related to trust, compassion, well-being, grace, dignity and integrity. It explores these within the context of higher education, giving existential and empirical accounts of how these moral duties can be expressed within the academy and why they ought to be. The chapters range from values used in the marketing and management of institutions to their realisation in therapeutic and teacher training spaces. The book opens with a specific introduction which positions the work and outlines the context of duties and obligations at play. This is followed by two distinct but related sections including chapters on theoretical issues, organisational practices and personal praxis. The first part is more abstract and theoretical, the second locates the values discussed within the practices of the university. In doing so the book encompasses a wide range of issues from multidisciplinary and geo-political regions. The authors are a mixture of world-leading authorities on values in higher education and earlier career researchers, who are nonetheless equally passionate contributors. This mix gives the book vibrancy and offers insight which appeals to

both an academic and managerial readership.

New Book: Contemporary Thinking on Transdisciplinary Knowledge, edited by Paul Gibbs & Alison Beavis

‘Contemporary Thinking on Transdisciplinary Knowledge: What Those Who Know, Know’:

  • Collects, for first time, the thoughts of critical thinkers on transdisciplinary thinking
  • Explores idea of knowledge from a number of transdisciplinary perspectives
  • Serves as an important foundation for teaching in, and thoughts about
    transdisciplinary approaches to knowledge

How can we understand what a transdisciplinary (TD) approach might actually comprise of, given its complex and various uses? This book asks the question of leading practitioners in the field of higher education and transdisciplinarity. The emergence of transdisciplinarity has been a response to the often-failed closed-system, discipline-based approaches to solving complex social problems (various reports and definitions may be found in projects reported by the OECD, UNESCO and EU). These failures are often contingent upon disaggregated notions of epistemology and the compounding failures of ontological incongruities that are evident in
these discipline-based approaches. Such approaches are not necessarily confined to large, seemingly insurmountable social problems, but apply equally well to issues in educational institutions as workplaces. Transdisciplinary knowledge is in the liberation of new and imaginative understanding of the structured reality of open social systems. It gives rise to generative mechanisms, which are central to relationships of agency and structure.

Find out more here.

New Book: Higher Education and Hope Institutional, Pedagogical and Personal Possibilities Editors: Gibbs, Paul, Peterson, Andrew (Eds.)

Around the world, the landscape of Higher Education is increasingly shaped by discourses of employability, rankings, and student satisfaction. Under these conditions, the role of universities in preparing students for all facets of life, and to contribute to the public good, is reshaped in significant ways: ways which are often negative and pessimistic. This book raises important and pressing questions about the nature and role of universities as formative educational institutions, drawing together contributors from both Western and non-Western perspectives. While the editors and contributors critique the current situation, the chapters evince a more humane and compassionate framing of the work of and in universities, based on positive and valued relationships and notions of the good. Drawing together a wide range of theoretical and conceptual frameworks to illuminate the issues discussed, this volume changes the debate to one of hopefulness and inspiration about the role of higher education for the public good: ultimately looking towards a potentially exciting and rewarding future through which humanity and the planet can flourish.