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Center for Higher Education
Guest talk

Dr. Celia Whitchurch

(University College London, UK)

Challenging Approaches to Academic Career-Making: The Influence of Career Scripts and the Rise of the 'Concertina' Career

The talk will draw on a project conducted for the Centre for Global Higher Education, based in Oxford and London UK, on the future higher education workforce. It will review the shift towards 'concertina-like' careers, in which individuals stretch the spaces and timescales available to them, so that the process of career-making expands and contracts in relation to the different spaces in which individuals find themselves over extended time periods. Underpinning this process, the concept of 'career scripts'  is used to described how the career paths of individuals may be informed not only by formal career structures (represented by Institutional scripts) but also by activity associated with professional practice (represented by Practice scripts), and by personal strengths, interests and commitments (represented by Internal scripts). This has, in turn, led to new forms of activity, across both the formal institutional economy, consisting of, for example, promotion criteria and prescribed career pathways; and the informal institutional economy, represented by personal interests and initiatives, professional relationships and networks, that may be unique to the individual. The 'concertina' process also enables individuals to address a series of common misalignments and disjunctures within formal institutional economies, including, for example, those associated with disciplinary and departmental affiliations, job profiles, progression criteria, and work allocation models. These more fluid approaches to careers have implications for institutional practices, for example in relation to promotion and progression routes, and the optimisation of individual career aspirations in the context of institutional missions.

Celia Whitchurch is Honorary Associate Professor at IOE, UCL's Faculty of Education. Her research interests focus on academic and professional roles, identities and careers, and on third space environments in higher education. She has conducted projects for the UK Leadership Foundation and Higher Education Academy, and was latterly the Principal Investigator on the Centre for Global Higher Education project The Future Higher Education Workforce in Locally and Globally Engaged Higher Education Institutions. Monographs include Challenging Approaches to Academic Career-making (2023) (with William Locke and Giulio Marini); Reconstructing Relationships in Higher Education: Challenging Agendas (2017) (with George Gordon); and Reconstructing Identities in Higher Education: The Rise of Third Space Professionals (2013).

Wednesday, 8 May 2024, 4.00–5.30 p.m. (CEST) | Hybrid event
Vogelpothsweg 78 (CDI building), room 114 | Online via Zoom

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