Workshop 2: Scholarship and critical action

Workshop 2

Scholarship and critical action: Do we shed the chains of the ivory tower at our own peril?

I often think with great fondness of the time when I had just started my PhD. In my youthful enthusiasm, I was convinced that my research would have an academic impact – it would tell academics what social tourism was – and that it would make a difference beyond academia; it, would make tourism available to people (academics and non-academics alike) who are either unable to afford a break away, or who need extra help and support to travel that the commercial sector cannot provide. Now I can’t but smile at my naïve bravado – yet at the same time, deep inside, I still hope my work can make a difference in ‘the real world’. I have just realised that IF that ever happens, it will probably be despite – not because of – the constraints of the academic environment: the pressures to publish in the “right” places and to write grant proposals to the “right” funders.

The workshop on tourism and critical action aims to discuss this issue. The idea is not just to complain about how restrictive academic structures can be: academic papers read by few for example can do more for careers than industry reports read by thousands or research that is reported in the international media. The aim is to explore the role research can play in achieving critical action and positive change and at the same time meet the needs of academia. Universities traditionally were where social innovations started – can we still play that role today, or do we have to resign ourselves to rule supreme in our ivory towers?

The workshop will be led by Dr Lynn Minnaert of the University of Surrey and Dr Ross Klein of the Memorial University of Newfoundland. From their own experience, they will provide examples of the tensions between research that positively impacts the outside world versus research that primarily advances an academic career. Through dialogue and discussion with workshop participants they hope to explore how research impact – beyond the academic world – can become a viable measure of success: if ‘impact factor’ can be more than a number next to a journal’s name.



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