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My union – the UCU is supposed to be having its congress this week but it has been abandoned, after a couple of days of mostly chaos, although some good work has been done on casualisation and other issues, including the difficult issue of the use of lecture capture which was possibly misused in the recent strike making it a source of conflict between staff and student in universities.
The issue is whether the General Secretary can be criticised and asked to resign in a motion at congress. This raises issues about her employment and rights, and she is supported by other staff who see this as a threat and is covered by the standing orders which do prevent this from happening.

This is reasonable, but places the union is a difficult situation when, as now, there is a lot of unhappiness in the membership of the General Secretary’s conduct during an industrial dispute. This is always likely given the messy nature of industrial disputes and the almost certainty of different views on the termination of action – on the basis that you never get all you want (and if you did then there would be a valid criticism that you were not asking for enough). Both sides it seems to me should be able to recognise that. But the rule above seems to me to be unworkable – and needs to be replaced by a more positive procedure about what can be done.
I don’t think anyone should be sacked or forced to resign as a result of a motion in a conference – even if they could address the conference. However, the conference must be allowed to voice views which might indicate a level of dissatisfaction that should lead to that.

The background has remarkable historical resonance for me. There are two factions in UCU – the broad left and UCU left. There were two main blocks when I was involved in student politics (Sussex 1972-5), generally similar blocks. We did have the Maoists, bless them, but they were never significant. The left block was split between two groups – the precursor to the SWP and the International Marxist group, often to be found in the bar disputing the nature of the soviet state in obscure terms. Thought – maybe the SWP need a stronger rival in the far left to keep it in line?

I had fun (being an un-organised yippie – M15 have me down as an anarchist because their Fed of Conservative Students informant wasn’t that clear about political differences!) representing the Union Council (made up of sports and other basically conservative groups) on the Union executive with either the broad or the far left. It is possible to work with the different groups for the best of the union, but it needs people who have a wider perspective. The broad left are generally better at managing things, the far left at getting people involved.
The problem is that there doesn’t seem to be anyone taking that role in the UCU at the moment, and nobody seems to have thought about what was going to happen. Both sides should have seen this coming and had contingency plans.
For me I can’t help thinking this is a problem of virtue, this is what politics is about, if you want to play the game you need to know how you are going to play and play well. I am sorry for all the first-time delegates at the conference who got thrown into all this and must be feeling frustrated and angry. But there must be enough people around who should have the experience and sense to have helped to manage this better.

I am leaving my post at Queen Mary University of London and retiring, moving on to a new phase in my life.

Working in educational development at Queen Mary has become more difficult since a move to a building off the main campus and a restructuring, both of which have reduced our contacts with academic members of staff and decision makers in the university and created other problems. I recognise that this reflects trends across the sector, but that does not make it any easier.  The failure to make a timely decision about the future of the main project I have been working on with two colleagues on short-term contracts has been difficult for me.

I have been in phased retirement for the last year and was hoping to continue that for a while – but that has not worked out so I am now fully retiring from August – but looking forward to doing other things.

While working in Educational Development at Queen Mary has been turbulent since I joined in 2007 I am proud to have been part of many positive changes and am particularly proud of the work on the Teaching Recognition Project and the positive impact that the team has made and the good will established across the university.

Educational Development Summer School Module

ADP7112 – International Perspectives on Higher Education

16-20 July 2018

Convenor: Dr Claire Bryony Loffman

ADP7112 is a face-to-face week-long module exploring international perspectives on higher education and their implications for the teaching, assessing, curriculum design and broader academic practice of students on the course. In this module you'll be encouraged to enhance inclusivity, develop heightened awareness of cultural contexts and to identify hidden assumptions about expectations of the teaching and learning experience in Higher Education internationally. ADP7116 is offered as a standalone CPD opportunity.

Module Structure

This module runs as an intensive 9am-5pm five-day face-to-face course in the week of Monday 16 to Friday 20 July 2018 on QMUL’s Mile End Campus in London, England (E1 4NS). During the week of the Summer School you will experience a mix of face-to-face teaching sessions with tutors; the format of these sessions will include: seminars with small group work, a practical workshop, a student-led forum and an opportunity for Q&A with alumnae from last year’s Summer School. You should expect to be on campus for a 36-hour week during the summer school. The module consists of eight core topics including:

1.       Internationalisation and Higher Education

2.       Theories of Cultural Differences

3.       Designing Inclusive Assessment and Feedback

4.       Curriculum Design and Graduate Attributes with a Global Perspective

5.       International Perspectives on Technology for Teaching

6.       Voice Workshop for Teaching in Multilingual Contexts

During the Summer School, participants will be asked to participate in group work and share individual experiences throughout the week. All participants are required to work together to prepare their Group Presentations for 20 July.

For full details and to book your place please visit:

When I started work in HE we had the occasional token strike.  They were token because often the employer did not deduct pay, or if they did repayment was part of the concluding agreement, and we did the work anyway - things were rearranged, we worked at home etc.

Our employers not longer play by those rules - pay is deducted both for striking and action short of a strike, and they will put out statements about the action damaging students and the institution, blaming the action.

And we have carried on playing by the old rules, doing most of the work anyway, adding to our well known unpaid overtime.

This is not viable!  It will be difficult, and painful and may put pressure on relationships within the University - but if I am giving up substantial amount of pay I am not taking responsibility for the work not being done - the university must make sure that work is done if it is needed or recognising that it will not be done - not next week, not never!

Organisational change is magic.

Magic is either deep or surface.

Deep magic is long term, gradual significant change in a system.

Surface magic is visible, quick magic - smoke and mirrors stuff.

A good magician  uses surface magic in various ways to support deep magic, convincing people of change, getting people on board etc., but never confuses the two, always keeping an eye on the long term, the slow and difficult stuff which can't be pushed, tied to deadlines and other restrictions, and controlled - but results in real change.

One of my interests is the perception of time and the effect of different time modalities on our experience and behaviour - this looks like an interesting conference but I doubt if I will be able to make it:

Call for Papers
Workshop: On time. Temporal and normative ordering of mobilities
University of Siegen, Germany | September 13–14, 2018

with lectures by MONIKA BÜSCHER (Lancaster), ROB KITCHIN (Maynooth), SVEN OPITZ (Marburg)

More info:
Organizers: Claudio Coletta (Antwerp), Jörg Potthast (Siegen), Tobias Röhl (Siegen), Susann Wagenknecht (Siegen)

Temporality and normativity are interwoven with one another: Timings convey norms and norma-tive shifts. Rhythms enforce forms of life, convey-ing rules and principles. Flows of time fit experi-ence and expectation to one another producing specific versions of past, present and future. The end of time conjures up both utopian and dysto-pian visions.

Yet, while the plurality of normative orders has emerged as a crucial issue of social theory (Boltanski & Thévenot, 1999), its temporal dy-namics have received little attention so far. And while the accelerating dynamics of time (Rosa, 2015; Simmel, 1903; Benjamin, 1999; Virilio, 1997; Wajcman & Dodd, 2017) as well as the plurality of temporal orders have been recog-nized (Lefebvre, 2004), implications for theoriz-ing normative orders remain unclear. In social theory, time has been addressed as a social ordering principle (Zerubavel, 1982) emphasiz-ing the symbolic dimension and the normative aspects of social regularities. Especially with industrialization processes (Adam, 2004) clock time has been naturalized as commodified, com-pressed, colonized and controlled resource which regulates social relations. Normativity, on the other hand, is typically understood through spa-tial and static imagery, in terms of already given normative “spheres,” “reach” and “binding force.” The normativity of time, in turn, is com-monly backgrounded and kept “still” as a rather unproblematic, uncontested convention guarded by technology. By temporalizing phenomena—e.g. systems of gift exchange (Bourdieu, 1977)—a praxeological perspective questions such static views on normative orders and shows how issues of timing are integral to social practices.

To discuss the nexus of temporal and normative orders in empirical detail and with ethnographic sensibility, we propose to focus on various forms of (traffic and transport) mobility. With real-timing, punctuality and synchronization as its crucial requirements, mobility brings the plurality of temporal orders to the fore. Traffic and transport mobilities rely on and create rhythms as “active producers of realities” (Revill, 2013). Furthermore, mobile practices perform hybrid public spaces where the plurality of temporal and normative orders becomes especially palpable. In these spaces temporal and normative orders are automated, technically embedded and mobi-lized—increasingly through software and code (Kitchin and Dodge, 2011; Kitchin, in press). Consequently, being mobile and/or mobilizing others makes the plurality of normative and tem-poral orders an issue: distant spheres have to be linked, gaps to be bridged, connections forged, groups coordinated, timelines met, processes aligned etc.

Through the study of traffic and transport mobili-ties we direct attention to the intricate relations that multiple temporal and normative orders unfold in practice. Temporal and normative or-ders overlap and interfere; they support and challenge one another. We seek to develop both a normative notion of time as well as a dynamic notion of normativity: temporality as a fundamen-tal normative issue, normativity as a temporal phenomenon through and through. In so doing, we aim to reconcile a praxeological account (so-cial order as practical accomplishment) with normative notions of sociality (social order as moral order)—a notion present in proto-praxeological social theory (most prominently, ethnomethodology and interactionism) but ab-sent in most theorizing thereafter, only gaining weight again in current theorizing. With this theo-retical interest in traffic and transport mobilities, we propose to expand on recent mobility studies (e.g. Büscher, Urry, & Witchger, 2010; Cresswell, 2006; Krämer & Schindler, 2016; Jensen, 2015; Urry, 2007), for which theoretical and empirical issues are always intertwined.

To explore the nexus of temporal and normative orders, we invite papers that deal empirically and/or conceptually with the relation of norma-tive and temporal orders in the field of mobilities. Possible questions include:

Punctuality: Why is punctuality a norm frequently encountered when dealing with organized traffic and transport? Why is it still upheld despite trains, flights, ferries, cars, and busses often being late? How are different forms of mobilities linked to punctuality? What does it mean to be punctual when driving by car or travelling by plane?

Real-timeness, synchronization, anticipation, prediction/prioritization: How do different forms of temporality occur? How are they arranged and organized?

Rhythm and flow: When is rhythm enforced (rhythm as enforced discipline), when does it become a flow (rhythm as a skillful way of han-dling time)? Which forms of eurhythmia, arrhyth-mia and polyrhythmia take place? Through what kind of infrastructures?

Experience: How do experiences of time develop a normative force when we are mobile?

Control: How is the plurality of normative and temporal orders in transport and traffic moni-tored and regulated? How are temporal gaps and normative splits managed in practice?

Conflict and competing demands of time: When can issues of timing in traffic and transport help settle conflicts, when do they generate and am-plify conflict? How do they interfere?

Breakdown of orders: How to keep on track when rhythms fall apart and time estimates become obsolete? What are temporal and normative orders of breakdown and catastrophe?

Scaling: How are norms of traffic uphold over longer periods of time? How do actors scale their actions so that norms become relatively durable? What are the different scales that can be identi-fied when talking about the temporality and nor-mativity of traffic?

If you are interested in presenting a paper, please send an abstract (max. 300 words) to until 15th of February 2018.

To facilitate discussions during the workshop participants will be asked to hand in short papers (approx. 3,000–4,000 words) no later than 15th of July 2018.

Non-tenured researchers attending the workshop may apply for a refund of their travel and ac-comodation costs!

Important dates
Feb 15, 2018 - deadline for submission of abstracts (max. 300 words)
Mar 23, 2018 - notification of acceptance
Jul 15, 2018 - deadline for submission of short exploratory papers (3,000–4,000 words)
Sep 13–14, 2018 - workshop

Adam, B. (2004). Time, Cambridge, Polity Press.
Benjamin, W. (1999). The Arcades Project, Cam-bridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Har-vard University Press.
Boltanski, L., & Thévenot, L. (1999). The Sociolo-gy of Critical Capacity. European Journal of Social Theory, 2(3), 359–377.
Bourdieu, P. (1977). Outline of a Theory of Prac-tice, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
Büscher, M., Urry, J., & Witchger, K. (Eds.) (2010). Mobile Methods. London/New York: Routledge.
Cresswell, T. (2006). On the Move: Mobility in the Modern Western World. London/New York: Routledge.
Kitchin, R. (in press) The Realtimeness of Smart Cities. Tecnoscienza, 8(2).
Kitchin, R. and Dodge, M. (2011). Code/Space: Software and Everyday Life, Cambridge, MIT Press.
Jensen, O. B. (2015). Mobilities. London/New York: Routledge.
Krämer, H., & Schindler, L. (Eds.) (2016). Mobil-tät (Special Issue of the Österreichische Zeitschrift für Soziologie 41(1)) Wiesba-den: Springer VS.
Lefebvre, H. (2004). Rhythmanalysis: Space, Time and Everyday Life. London/New York: Continnuum.
Revill, G. (2013). Points of Departure: Listening to Rhythm in the Sonoric Spaces of the Railway Station. The Sociological Re-view, 61 (S1), 51–68.
Rosa, H. (2015). Social Acceleration. New York: New York University Press.
Simmel, G. (1971). The Metropolis and Mental life. In Donald Levine (Ed.), Simmel: On Individuality and Social Forms (p. 324). Chicago: Chicago University Press.
Urry, J. (2007). Mobilities. Cambridge: Polity.
Virilio, P. (1997). Open Sky, London, Verso.
Wajcman, J., & Dodd, N. (Eds.) (2017). The Sociology of Speed: Digital, Organiza-tional, and Social Temporalities. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Zerubavel, E. (1982). The Standardization of Time: A Sociohistorical Perspective. American Journal of Sociology, 88(1), 1–23.