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Intellectual grazing

12 Oct


It has been nine months since I started this new job as a research developer and, along with it, my transition out of a research academic space.

I still think of myself as moving through a career transition, but it’s a transition that has no forseeable end.

Maybe I’ll persist with my research and become a ‘hobby researcher’ (Inger Mewburn [aka The Thesis Whisperer] coaxed me into writing some material for an article she’s leading on this very subject).

Maybe I’ll abandon my research pursuits altogether and live a totally other-hobby life. It might take me a while to remember what that looks like. Most of my recent life’s ‘leisure time’ has been used up with social media management (across three accounts), writing/editing/formatting material, updating website news, and occasional guilty bouts of playing PvZ (see previous entry) or similar.

Maybe my (new) dream of a 50% research admin – 50% research job will materialise. On this particular ‘maybe': I was talking with a more senior colleague about this vision today. She is a great enabler, and thinks that this kind of position should be possible; in fact, she thinks it’s highly desirable and what every forward-thinking university should be considering. I know that – for me – the possibility that I might be given room to continue doing my research (without the heavy expectation of a fellowship) AND the ongoing stimulus/security of the research development work I’m doing now would be perfect.

As part of my current non-academic job, I’m encouraged to familiarise myself with the work of my College’s researchers. Today, this was manifest in my attendance at a double-seminar, one in a series under the Asia@RMIT banner. The presenters were engaging and shared research that was all new to me:

  • Siva Muthaly (RMIT’s Graduate School of Business and Law) on Australia finding trade leverage in ASEAN countries, and
  • Martin Mulligan (RMIT’s School of Global Studies, Social Science, and Planning) exploring post-conflict reconciliation in Jaffna (Sri Lanka).

One of the excellent things about my job is that I’m in a College of Business, and I’ve only ever been in Faculties of Arts (at UQ & Monash), mainly in the humanities. Engaging with business disciplines, even though much of it is viewed through social science lenses, is a whole new world. I am greatly enjoying the freshness of learning about subjects that I have no idea about. Not just that I’m not an expert in it, but have NO IDEA. It’s weirdly liberating.

On a similar path of enlightenment, I’m fast realising how valuable and real my broad experience as an academic is in this research development caper. Particularly useful was the time I had as a journal editor for five years with the Journal of Intercultural Studies (which has gone from strength to strength – from three issues to six in 2011). Being able to review a project where I’m not a content expert was initially a bit odd, but I’m finding that it’s in many ways a helluva lot easier.

Meanwhile, the year is moving towards ARC zone. This will be my first year with a full lead-up to the madness. Next 10 January? I’ll have been in the job a full year.

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Posted by on 12/10/2011 in academia

 

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