Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Apparently I'm doing another PhD.

So I've just begun a second PhD examining international First Peoples' connections and collaborations in research at higher education institutions.

Why Batchelor
There were a few reasons I selected Batchelor.  I work at there, and I'm in the research division where I convene the Creative Arts section of our program, so it was a strong belief in what we're about.  But it was also because at Batchelor we're thinking about our international research relationships a lot at the moment.

Research on a budget
Batchelor is lean and mean, but we are all about building our research.  We're not like other institutions, we're pretty pared down.  We can go to a conference IF we present a paper.  Never without that.  We can travel internationally to undertake our research if we bring in the research dollars to do just that.  And so it's pretty simple, want to do research?  Make it meaningful and bring in the support.   As individual researchers we often subsidize our work and I'm okay with that.   In fact last year I spent seven months overseas, and spent more than 30,000 of my own money on this work... cos sometimes when you're in a small place, that's what you have to do.  But I also have a lot of flexibility because of the work I do, and there is also a lot of support.

We're small and strong
We only have a handful of people undertaking research full-time at the Institute, and we are hoping to grow what we do.   We have amazing, committed research candidates as well.  We also have a great deal of academic staff who make the time to contribute to research and these folks really need support... I'm hoping that this internationalisation project can assist in that.

Why internationalisation? 
Well... I've been thinking about internationalisation a lot over the last five years and at the Institute we've been talking about it about that long too.  I've had to travel internationally a fair bit with the ARC project that I've been working on.  While it was necessary to travel for my museums research, but along the way I also came across remarkable people who made my research better - both First Peoples and non-Indigenous folks who work in museums or universities or small colleges or communities, in the arts and outside of all of these contexts.   The international space matters to our researchers - being remote and small can have implications for how we engage with our bigger national partners: other unis and organisations etc.  But beyond how we sit in the national space, it's a reminder that we're a part of an international conversation and that the conversation we have makes our research better.   I imagine how limiting my research would be if I had never met Stephen Welsh at Manchester Museum, or Shannon Quist at the National Museum of the American Indian,  or Pam Burnard at Cambridge University.  These connections are meaningful and important and make the research better.  The work I'm doing on the PhD will ponder how this can be tracked.

What's our research about at the Institute. 
We focus on three core areas: language, education, and creative arts.  These areas are all broadly imagined.  Since we began to narrow our focus, we've been asked why it's narrowed... effectively we've made the decision that since we're small, we need to focus on areas that we've always done well in, and areas that are important to our community/ies.

What kind of research will we do internationally? 
Well... we mostly do projects, we publish in international journals and write with our international partners.  Sometimes we run workshops internationally, we do presentations on our work and our research.   But this upping the ante in the international space is about a more strategic approach and partnerships.  We aren't interested in 'international' cos it's elsewhere, we're interested because the people that we meet across other countries help us to contribute and work in ways that we wish to explore.   We hope to create international projects that will have multiple partners... more on this soon.   I'm currently preparing a report on this and should have at least the major (the approved) part of it available soon. 

Why another PhD? 
I want to learn more about higher education and what a mapping of practice might mean. I also hope the findings will be helpful for others.  I think we talk a good game about lifelong learning, so I'm trying it on and seeing if I can have that same commitment again.


  1. Good luck Sandy. I can't even imagine what you're about to undertake. I guess it will be a bit easier the second time round?

  2. Thanks so much, those words means the world. Hey, right this sec, I can't actually imagine it either, but I seem to recall that that's pretty normal. I'm feeling a bit like I'm not too sure how to tackle it... but I think I just need a bit of courage to move forward on it! Oh and time, lol.