Piece from Sociology at Westminster about TEF

This piece captures neatly the iniquity of the TEF.

Westminster Sociology

Year after year in Sociology at Westminster we receive consistently high levels of student satisfaction (90-100%) in the National Student Survey. Individual Sociology staff have won awards for their quality teaching, and most recently were awarded a team Excellence Award in recognition of our innovative teaching programme. We have specialist teaching qualifications which mean our work is informed by the latest thinking in Higher Education. External examiners reported only last week how impressed and inspired they are by what we do.

While it does not come as a surprise, we are disappointed to find that our university has been ranked ‘Bronze’ – the lowest category – in the national Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), published this morning. Although the stated aim of the TEF is ‘to recognise and reward excellence in teaching and learning’ the outcome for Sociology at Westminster has been the direct opposite: the TEF result says…

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Upcoming paper: EHS Winter Meeting

Not Cambridge, but somewhere close by. Photo by Tamara Polajnar. CC BY-NC 2.0

This weekend (14th January 2017) I’ll be attending the Winter Meeting of the Ecclesiastical History Society in chilly Cambridge.

The theme this year is Church and Empire.

I’ll be up on my hind hooves, giving a paper entitled ‘The Influence of the Algerian War (1954–62) on Francophone Study of Late Antiquity’.

Satisfyingly vague.

Say hello if you see me.

On insisting that academic labour is work…

Katrine Smiet

 Or: How to Become a Model Neoliberal Academic Subject.

If you’ve met me recently, online or offline, you’ll know that I’m in the middle of finishing my PhD dissertation. That’s to say: I’m in the middle of finishing a manuscript, a book, the largest piece of writing I’ve ever written. Some 90.000 words, excluding bibliography.

So it should not come as a surprise that writing and everything related to it have been on my mind these past months. How to reduce procrastination time and be more effective in my time management? How to overcome writer’s blocks and deal with the anxiety that comes with trying to finish up a project like this? How to edit your own text and how to be satisfied with what you’ve written?

Because I’m nerdy like that, I also love reading, thinking, talking and even writing about writing. Yeah, that’s some ‘meta’ stuff! The genre of…

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Patristics and Europe in 1951

Closed for business. Snack bar on Avenue Robert Schuman. Photograph by me.

“… since we are gathered here on the soil of Great Britain, how could we not call to mind a model or antitype of the labour we’re now doing: the work completed in the ‘dark ages’ by the scotti monasteries, heirs of the first rush out of Ireland; by the monasteries and episcopal schools of the Anglo-Saxons … where the beginnings of the Carolingian Renaissance, and so our civilisation today, were sketched out.” – Conclusion to Henri Marrou’s address to the first Oxford Patristics Conference (1951)

This quote is a good example of the ways in which people came to see the connections between the end of the Roman Empire and Europe after 1945. I’ve spent some time in the Archives nationales d’Outre-Mer trying to make more sense of these connections. As I walked to and from the archives I also thought about how memories of the past shape our world today.

The building containing these archives stands on the outskirts of Aix-en-Provence at the end of Avenue Robert Schuman. Schuman was a key figure in the early negotiations on European integration after the Second World War. Over the past week, as the consequences of Brexit begin to play out, this junction between the colonial archive and Schuman’s avenue has come to seem a physical monument to the intersection between memories of empire and the European present. Continue reading “Patristics and Europe in 1951”