In our August 2022 Doc Week, we were fortunate to host international guests stemming from a variety of projects Professor Sioux McKenna has been involved in for the past few years. Guests included Professor Kevin Kinser and Dr LaWanda Ward (Penn State University, USA), Dr Jan McArthur (Lancaster University, UK), Dr Patrick Onyango (Maseno University, Kenya) and Dr Lynn Kisembe (Moi University, Kenya), along with a number of their own doctoral candidates. We also hosted supervisors and scholars from Durban University of Technology and the University of Zululand.
Drawing on the theme of the week, International perspectives on higher education, we ran a number of sessions exploring different international concerns in the field, drawing out parallels and contrasts between national contexts. In particular, guest speakers highlighted different research concerns and institutional structures, the theme of neoliberalism was explored with regards to the impact on policies and practices at universities across contexts, and we explored different models of doctoral education around the world. A highlight of the week was Dr LaWanda Ward’s public lecture, Engaging Critical Race Theory to Analyze Legal Issues in U.S. Higher Education. Dr Ward used the lecture to induct the group into the foundations of the theory and contextualised its importance in relation to current USA politics. Parallels were also drawn between critical race theory and decolonial theory in the global South.
Space was also made in the programme for small group discussions among doctoral candidates, visiting guests and supervisors. This time allowed each candidate to present their study and to explore connections between one another’s research and the thought-provoking sessions lead by panellists in the mornings. Candidates also spent an afternoon in their research clusters where they interrogated the theoretical underpinnings of their research with peers using the same theoretical and analytical framework.
Informal feedback gathered throughout the week confirmed the collegial and stimulating atmosphere in the room. Candidates and supervisors commented on the rich learning experience afforded by the diverse perspectives represented at the week. Our visitors also appreciated the warm welcome they received from the university and enjoyed walks on our beautiful campus.
by Dr Kirstin Wilmot
Coordinator of the Higher Education Studies Doctoral Programme