Lilia: Agnes, what is your role as a Senior Teaching Fellow?
In the Faculty of Human Sciences, I have collegial conversations about learning and teaching that lead to improvements in practice, advance the scholarship of teaching, promote critical and reflective teaching, and ensure teaching is a learning process for academics. At the moment, for example, I am leading a faculty-wide Peer Review of Teaching initiative, facilitating Foundations in Learning and Teaching (FiLT), supporting communities of practice for Early Career Researchers (ECR) and Scholarly Teaching Fellows, and fulfilling teaching, research and service roles and responsibilities.
Lilia: I’ve recently noticed new hashtags popping up in my Twitter news feed #slowacademia and #slowacademic. Is slow academia gaining momentum? I’ve followed your blog from the start and find it makes for really stimulating reading. Can you explain why you started this blog and why you advocate for slow academia?
I was thinking about writing a blog for a long time before I published my first post. I follow lots of other blogs with a higher education focus, and enjoyed posts on slowness on the ThesisWhisperer, Research Whisperer and LSE Impact Accelerated Academy series. But there wasn’t a blog dedicated to the idea of slow academia, so I decided to start my own. It’s the culmination of years of working as a part-time and teaching-focussed academic (casual, fixed term and continuing) and as a professional staff member while managing health and family challenges. I wanted space to write my reflections. My ideas in The Slow Academic are inspired by work of many others on doing academia differently. I count Mountz and colleagues’ For Slow Scholarship and the Changing Academic Life podcasts among my many sources of inspiration.
Lilia: What is the alternative to slow academia?
We live it every day! In my research with colleagues, early career academics described feeling miserable, embittered, shattered, suffering, isolated, worn out, swamped, stressed, and dissatisfied. They feel they are never good enough, always taking on too much work, not being in the position to say no, over-scheduled and subject to relentless measurement. I wanted to write about these pressures in an optimistic way. Slow academia has been criticised as a space of privilege – and there is some weight to these claims – but the message of The Slow Academic is about savouring academic work. I write about things I enjoy on a daily basis –teaching, researching, reading, listening and learning.
Lilia: Thank you, Agnes! We wish you all the best for your academic and blogging career. I have picked some of your posts I think our Teche followers may find interesting:
On helpful strategies for managing intense periods at work
On how the thoughts racing through your head before you step up in front of your class change with time and age
A wrap up of a major conference on research and development in higher education HERDSA (previously featured on Teche)
On navigating precarious academia and balancing work with personal life
On the value of listening, especially for teachers who enjoy talking