The power of where you work

In July I relocated to the University of New South Wales to take up a position as Director of the Office of Educational Leadership (the website is a work in progress, so feel free to keep checking back on us) in the School of Education. Not surprisingly, as with move, it has been a disruptive time as I settled into a new working environment, prepared and taught new courses, sought to continue research trajectory and dealt with the supervisory joys of students still at other institutions.

As the dust has settled and I am beginning to feel on top of things what has been most interesting has been the power of affiliation. This is not surprising as I knew moving to a Group of Eight – research intensive university – would have any perks. Most notably is the esteem and prestige that comes with an internationally recognized brand – number 46 in the world according to the latest QS rankings. In addition, it also leads to more opportunities.

Since announcing my move, I have had opportunities to give systemic and regional keynotes, talks to schools, sit on grant evaluation committees, editorships of  journals, contribute to edited book series, examine theses, contribute to The Conversation, get interviewed on ABC radio, and present workshops at other universities. And these are just the ones I can recall quickly.

Has my work changed? No. Have I changed? I do not think so (although being so soon I guess the jury is still out). The question this begs is to what extent are opportunities the product of affiliation as opposed to the quality of work?

I am not so naïve to think that affiliation does not impact on opportunities. After all, I have read sufficient Bourdieusian work to understand reproduction. What it does though is raise a question as to what extent are we aware of our own bias?

In what ways do we confront our own bias when we engage with, or more importantly do not, with work? How do we find academics to work with? What journals and books do we engage with and why? There are many reasons why we make the decisions we do. What I am asking is to what extent are we aware of our reasons?

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