Critical University Studies: An Early Career Researcher Network 2018


This network will develop researchers’ capacity in the emerging field of Critical University Studies (CUS). Drawing on disciplines across the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences CUS is both scholarly and political, setting out to better understand how Universities can serve the public good and to enact changes that will enable that service. During the last decade the field has reached critical mass: both Johns Hopkins and Palgrave have launched CUS book series and major programmes have been supported in the US, UK and Europe (e.g. the European Commission funded consortium ‘Universities in the Knowledge Economy’ (UNIKE), Aarhus, 2013-17).

Arguably, expertise in this field is needed more than ever as Universities, their environments, and their commitments become more complex; and as those complexities highlight an urgent need for better, pragmatic visions of what Universities are and do. But CUS poses serious challenges for early career scholars: because it is a relatively new, cross-disciplinary and trans-sector field, work usually happens alongside or within other disciplinary structures. Building visibility and viability can be unusually challenging, particularly in terms of job-finding, grant funding and publication. There are significant issues around methodology: not only across constituent disciplines – which vocabularies will dominate? What constitutes evidence? – but also in relation to the scope of the questions asked. And opportunities for collaborative experimentation and guidance on this are rare. Finally, the necessarily trans-sector enquiry of CUS and its ambitions for change often demand perspectives within scholarship and beyond, requiring well-established personal networks and connections.

This network will identify strategies for advancing scholarship in this context, and develop capacity for leadership by early career scholars via sustained contact with each other, with experienced academics, and with policy makers.

Work will include:

  • 3 full-day workshops January–June 2018 (discussion based, problem-solving oriented) and a related symposium on 'Academic Citizenship'
  • input from leading scholars, policy makers and senior University administrators
  • blog posts on the CRASSH website, a briefing paper, and a co-edited special issue developed by network members

The network is convened by CRASSH Mellon/Newton Fellow Dr Alison Wood and supported by a British Academy Rising Stars Engagement Award. If you would like to know more about the network, please contact Dr Wood.

Supported by the British Academy, the new Critical University Studies early career researcher network held their inaugural workshop at CRASSH, Cambridge on 23 January 2018. 


'Mapping the Emerging Field of Critical University Studies'. 23 January 2018, CRASSH, Cambridge

'Scholarship in Policy, Policy in Scholarship'. 23 May 2018, British Academy, London. With Professor Helen Small (Oxford) and Dr Diana Beech (HEPI). 

Global Matters’. 20 and 21 June 2018, CRASSH, Cambridge (1.5 day workshop). In conjunction with the symposium ‘Academic Citizenship’, convened by Alison Wood, Richard Oosterhoff and Theodor Dunkelgrün. With Professor Christopher Newfield (University of California, Santa Barbara)