World-entangled futures: The PhD as deep ecology

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From governmental policy makers, institutional leaders, and even from research into doctoral education too, we hear that the PhD degree is in a crisis due to its disconnect with wider societal and cultural key issues, stakeholders, and concerns. Reports and evaluations point out that there is a serious and worrying gap between researchers and research environments at the universities and the pressing concerns at stake in the surrounding societal contexts. However, on the other hand, we see an increase in emerging research that make visible the great and foundational interconnections between research, education, personal growth, and societal and cultural contexts and domains. Especially during the PhD, research and researchers seem to be interwoven and interrelated with social and cultural concerns. We see the PhD described as a series of nested contexts (McAlpine & Amundsen, 2016; 2018) where research, institutions, individuals and social issues co-exist and co-define each other. The doctoral journey has been described, not as a lonely and isolated path, but as a learning ecology (Elliot et al, 2016; Bengtsen & Barnett, 2019) and as the extension of a wide and powerful intellectual and social penumbra (Wisker et al, 2017). Informed by contemporary research into doctoral education and the PhD, and with the aid of the philosophies of Roy Bhaskar (2008) and Martin Heidegger (1982; 2000), my aim is to show that the PhD, and its educational framing, is not itself in a crisis – but on the contrary is one of the most future-oriented and culturally sustainable ways forward available in contemporary societies.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe PhD at the end of the world : Provocations for the doctorate and our contested future
EditorsDenise Cuthbert, Robyn Barnacle
Publication statusIn preparation - Jan 2020

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