Written by Harrison during the first few months of The Glasgow Effect in 2016, this essay explores the many problems within the higher education system, which were the project’s initial impetus, and the destructive values these promote. It outlines key actions to resolve the contradictions that are preventing us from practising what we preach. (Word count: 4,496)

Preface

This text was written during the first few months of The Glasgow Effect – a “research project” for which I am refusing to leave the city where I have lived since September 2008, for a whole calendar year (1 January – 31 December 2016). To reduce my carbon footprint and my expenses even further, I am also attempting not to travel in any vehicles (other than my bike) until 2017.

Devised in summer 2015 in order to fulfil one of the criteria* of my three-and-a-half year “probation” for my lecturing post at the university, The Glasgow Effect (which was “successful” in receiving a £15,000 grant from Creative Scotland) aimed to expose and challenge the contradictions which I have observed, experienced and been guilty of myself since taking up my first permanent lecturing post on April Fools’ Day 2013.

By exploiting the core contradiction in my own work-life (that I don’t live in the city where I teach), The Glasgow Effect made physical the invisible tensions which are experienced by colleagues across academia between their teaching and research. These are tensions which, as the project has already highlighted (Vidinova 2016), are caused and exacerbated by the mechanisms used in Higher Education to finance, assess and account for research.

Using examples drawn from within the university where I work, this text aims to expose problems that are endemic across the Higher Education sector. It outlines some key actions we must work together to implement across our institutions, to resolve the contradictions that are preventing us from practising what we preach.

Practising what we Preach

“The part that education plays in human life is so important…” (Woolf 1938, p.32)

Writing during the Great Depression of the 1930s – a “post-crash” time with many parallels to our own (PCES 2011) – Virginia Woolf presents a vision for a new type of college, which can use the power of education to help create a better world (see full quote in Appendix 1). Central to this vision is a deep understanding that we can only create “an experimental college, an adventurous college… in which learning is sought for itself”, if we ensure that both students and staff have a shared set of values. Values which are embodied in every aspect of how the college is run: from the building it is housed in, to the way it is governed and the curriculum itself. (Woolf 1938, p.32-33)

Our Core Values

The study of universal human values “reveals some deep connections between seemingly different issues” (Crompton 2010, p.5). There are many negative consequences to prioritising “extrinsic” values such as: “financial success, image and popularity” (Kasser 2013) i.e. inflated staff salaries (NUS 2013) and “league tables: Research Excellence Framework; National Student Survey; Employability statistics…” (anon. 2015a). Psychologist Tim Kasser explains:

“The scientific evidence… shows that people’s values bear consistent relationships with outcomes such as… well-being, the care with which they treat others, and the extent to which they live in an ecologically sustainable fashion.” (Kasser 2013, p.9)

The more we prioritise “extrinsic” values, the “less happiness and life satisfaction” and “fewer pleasant emotions (like joy and contentment)” we have, and the more likely we are to behave in “manipulative and competitive” and “unethical and antisocial ways”. In contrast, the more we prioritise (and successfully pursue) “intrinsic” values such as: “self-acceptance, affiliation and community” i.e. integrity, valuing people and working together (UoD 2012), the “happier and healthier” we are and the more likely to have “ecologically sustainable attitudes and behaviours.” (Kasser 2013, p.9)

Transformation

Whether it is the impacts of climate change (Klein 2015), shifts in the global economy (Srnicek & Williams 2015) or changes in government funding (BIS 2015), it is clear that we too are going to have to “rebuild our college differently” (Woolf 1938, p.32) in order to meet the challenges of our changing world. These are challenges which Transformation: The New Vision for our University, defines as:

• promoting the sustainable use of global resources
• shaping the future through innovative design
• improving social, cultural and physical well-being (UoD 2012)

Transformation, our university’s 25 year strategy published in 2012, also defines the five “core values” which should “underpin everything we do”: valuing people, working together, integrity, making a difference and excellence (see postcard in image).

This text draws on my own observations and experiences teaching at the art school over the last three years, in order to highlight an evident “split between theory and practice” (Laclau & Mouffe 1985, p.8); what is best described as the “value-action gap”, between what we say we believe in and how we choose to behave (Blake 1999).

Much like artist Joseph Beuys’ Appeal for an Alternative published in 1979, this text demands that:

“… the lip service that [our universities] pay to the highest ideals of mankind becomes the real thing, and is no longer belied by the actual practices of our economic, political and cultural reality.” (Beuys 1979, p.1b)

My aim is to demonstrate that we can only achieve our goals and ensure the “long term sustainability” (anon. 2015a) of our educational institutions – both environmentally and financially – by insisting that “intrinsic” values really are “at the heart of every action and every decision we take” (UoD 2012).

Simplifying our Operations: Refocusing on Learning & Teaching

In “difficult times” (anon. 2015a), it is important to refocus on what is really important. We must be honest about what might be unnecessary and “meaningless tasks” (Srnicek & Williams 2015, p.2), and where we are overstretching ourselves by trying to do too much:

“The university cannot… become all to each; it cannot: serve the education of young adults, train future specialists, provide a conduit for research and scholarship…” (Rich 1974, p.59)

To help us refocus we must go back to “the simplest and oldest principles on which higher learning” has been built. Principles which the pioneering American art school Black Mountain College, chose as its guiding force:

1. That the student… is the proper centre of a general education, because it is he or she that a college exists for.
2. That the [teachers], fit to face up to the student as the centre, have to be measured by what they do with what they know. (Black Mountain College 1952, p.36)

With the students back in their rightful place, it becomes impossible to justify any activity at the art school, which does not make a difference to their learning experience or which does “nothing to nourish art” (Archer 2000, p.112). Despite its many flaws (discussed below), the 2015 UK government’s Green Paper on Higher Education does at least identify one area where our operations can be simplified:

“We must also address the ‘industries’ that some institutions create around the REF [Research Excellence Framework] and the people who promote and encourage these behaviours. There are cases of universities running multiple ‘mock REFs’, bringing in external consultants and taking academics away from teaching and research [emphasis added]. These activities appear to be a significant driver of the cost… [to the Higher Education sector, estimated to be £232million for the 2014 REF].” (BIS 2015, p.73)

Unfortunately, what the Green Paper suggests and what all of us in the Higher Education sector – students and teachers – must work together to oppose (McKnight 2016), is adding another layer of unnecessary bureaucracy. As academic Stefan Collini explains:

“Institutions and individuals have been pressured and incentivised [by the REF] to give research priority over teaching. The Green Paper is right to identify the resulting patterns of behaviour as a problem, but, in suggesting that the TEF [Teaching Excellence Framework] will help to ‘rebalance’ things, it is acting like a doctor who first prescribes one kind of unnecessary medication (the REF) which produces undesirable side-effects [emphasis added], then triumphantly adds a second medication (the TEF) in an attempt to reduce them. It is possible, though implausible, that a university tyrannised by the REF and the TEF will be better than one tyrannised by the REF alone, but a simpler and more economical remedy suggests itself.” (Collini 2016, p.36)

It is Stefan Collini’s “simpler and more economical remedy” which we must fight for. As the evidence shows, wasting more resources pursuing “extrinsic” values: creating “an ‘image’ to enhance league table rankings” (Neary & Beetham 2015, p.90), will do nothing to “improv[e] social, cultural and physical well-being” (UoD 2012) and enable us to achieve the healthy work-life balance where our values – excellence and integrity – can manifest.

“[The TEF] also seems pretty certain to produce more efforts by universities to make sure their NSS [National Student Survey] scores look good; more pressure on academics [emphasis added] to do whatever it takes to improve their institution’s overall TEF rating; and more league tables, more gaming of the system, and more disingenuous boasting by universities about being in the ‘top ten’ for this or that… What is it unlikely to produce? Better quality teaching.” (Collini 2016, p.36)

Action!

An Equal Distribution of Resources

Evidence shows that everyone – from the poorest to the richest – benefits from greater equality (The Equality Trust 2012). Indeed, inequality has “pernicious effects… eroding trust, increasing anxiety and illness and encouraging excessive consumption” (Pickett & Wilkinson 2009), precisely the opposite of the “good society” we should be working towards (Ashwin 2015, p.viii).

Despite this knowledge, inequality between staff in the Higher Education sector has been allowed to grow to record levels (UCU 2016). Not only does this “lead to low staff morale” (Hall 2014), but it renders our aspiration to “support and promote equality” (UoD 2012) meaningless. It is everyone’s responsibility to challenge excessive pay (Pickett 2016).

If you earn more than £160,000, you are in one of the top 1% of earners in the UK (Dorling 2015, p.10). The “value-action gap” occurs when our managers earn such large sums of money (Denholm 2016), that they become so disconnected from what it actually means to have an environmentally and economically sustainable lifestyle themselves, any attempt to “promot[e] the sustainable use of global resources” (UoD 2012) is inherently flawed.

Illustrating the interconnectedness of many social and environmental problems Naomi Klein explains:

“… fighting inequality on every front and through multiple means must be understood as a central strategy in the battle against climate change.” (Klein 2015, p.94)

Action!

“the University… commit to [a living wage and] a maximum wage. No one in the University should be paid more than 10 times the lowest full-time salary (currently £14,797p.a).” (DUCU 2016)

Getting the System Right

Values are not something you can simply demand, but should rather be considered as “fruit” (Ozanne 2016). It is only when you nurture and show respect for the roots of a tree (whether that’s looking after yourself or, in the case of the institution, your staff), that desirable outcomes (i.e. the fruit) will emerge. Unless you get the system / operations of an organisation right, you will never achieve your goals.

Platform London is an excellent example of a real values-based organisation. They are so aware of the need to embed their ethics and principles into every aspect of their operations in order to retain integrity, that they devised their own Socially Just Waging System. It aims to “recognis[e] different needs and backgrounds and support… people’s security and creativity” by removing hierarchies of pay. (Platform 2005)

There are some visionary leaders in the business world as well, who have recognised how equality can benefit both financial and social prosperity. Dan Price, CEO of Gravity Payments in America decided to become “part of the solution to inequality” (CBS 2015). He slashed his own salary from $1.1million to $70,000 so that he could increase the “emotional well-being” of his employees by paying everyone the same. The new non-hierarchical pay structure enables everyone to work together more effectively as “partners”:

“Like many other tech firms, employees are [also] given unlimited paid leave and meetings are optional, which [Price] believes… gives them the autonomy to achieve results.” (Rock 2015, p.9)

“Impact” is a word which is about as much overused in the Higher Education sector as excellence (Bishop 2012, p.268). However, there is one organisation which appreciates how you actually achieve it. Rather than blindly demanding that “impact” just happens, the appropriately named Impact Hub in Birmingham understands that this can only ever be a consequence of successfully pursuing their values: “openness, trust, transparency, humbleness, generosity, learning & passion” (Birmingham Impact Hub 2014a). They believe:

“A better world is created through the combined accomplishments of compassionate, creative, and committed individuals focused on a common purpose.” (Birmingham Impact Hub 2014a)

This is made possible by having “an influencer structure, not a management structure”, where anyone can “be proactive in making the community a better, fairer and more supportive place to be” provided they embody their shared values and “leave [their] ego at the door.” (Birmingham Impact Hub 2014b)

Our Divided Souls

Ernest Boyer’s model of scholarship demonstrates how the four “scholarships” of discovery (research), integration (synthesis), application (practice) and teaching are “tied inseparably to each other” (Boyer 1990, p.25). Together they form a holistic “cycle” (Lea 2015, p.1) of how lecturers generate and disseminate knowledge in the university and beyond.

And yet, one of the “unintended consequences” (BIS 2015, p.73) of the mechanisms imposed by government funding bodies (described above), has been to “segregate and specialise” (Woolf 1938, p.32): forcing lecturers to specialise in just one of these “scholarships” (i.e. teaching or research). This creates “elitism” and divisive “hierarchies of knowledge” (Phillips 2016), where “the people doing the hard graft of teaching are totally in the shadows” (Lawrence 2015).

We only need look as far as our university’s own “stress in the workplace” training modules (UoD n.d.), to see why this is so destructive…

For the Teachers:

“Teaching in Higher Education is a creative and intellectually demanding process.” (Ashwin, 2015, p.vii)

Those forced to specialise in teaching are starved of the slower more reflective time allowed by the other forms of scholarship. The highs-and-lows allowed by the holistic “cycle” of all “four scholarships” is what allows us to process all that has happened and to recoup energy in order to perform excellently. As philosopher Hannah Arendt explains, without time away from “the implacable, bright light of the constant presence of others” (Crary 2014, p.26) there is no possibility of:

“… nurturing of the singularity of the self, a self that could make a substantive contribution to exchanges about the common good.” (Arendt 1958, p.134)

Increased specialisation, along with an unnecessary reduction in teaching staff (we lost six of our team of around 34 [approx 17%] in our university’s voluntary severance scheme in 2014), has led to a situation where fewer staff are available to work with an increasing number of students.

As our university’s training modules explain: “stress arises when individuals perceive that they cannot adequately cope with the demands being made on them or with threats to their well-being” [psychologist Richard Lazarus] (UoD n.d.) and “inadequate staffing levels” are cited as one of the six major causes of “stress in the workplace” (UoD n.d.). We must acknowledge that quality of life and quality of education go hand-in-hand.

For the Researchers:

Those forced to specialise in research suffer more from the “isolation of over-specialisation” (Neary & Beetham 2015, p.89). Having completely lost sight of the reason the “college exists for” i.e. the students (Black Mountain College 1952, p.36), they suffer from what anthropologist David Graeber calls “the phenomenon of Bullshit jobs”, in that they:

“… spend their entire working lives performing tasks they secretly believe do not really need to be performed. The moral and spiritual damage that comes from this situation is profound.” (Graeber 2013)

This damage is compounded by the knowledge of the financial burden they have become. Despite the pressure to win research grants, the evidence now shows that “research doesn’t pay”; these grants are rarely “overhead bearing” and run at a 20% loss to our university (anon. 2015b). “Ill defined or conflicting responsibilities” is another of the six major causes of “stress in the workplace”. (UoD n.d.)

Public Survey: Does more Money = better Art?

Does more Money = better Art?
Total Participants: 639 (as of 26 April 2016)

We Need to Talk about Research

The mechanisms used to finance, assess and account for research are not just having a negative impact on staff well-being causing “the alienation from oneself that is experienced by those who are forced to describe their activities in misleading terms” (Collini 2013, p.12). They are, perhaps even more worryingly, negatively affecting the content and form of the research itself.

Within the art school, research is becoming “de-coupled from the social and associated with a lack of creativity and spontaneity” (Phillips 2016): the exact opposite of what is necessary to make excellent art. Critically-engaged contemporary artists’ work is being compromised by the “assertion of practice-as-research, an institutionally serviceable and assessable construct.” (Phillips 2010, p.168)

But the problems with research go way beyond the art school. The same target-driven culture which was first imposed on scientists has had many, sometimes life-threatening “unintended consequences” (BIS 2015, p.73), as scientific results and papers are also being doctored to increase their “impact” (PLOS 2006). Professor Mark Edwards expresses his concerns:

“if we lose good honest ethical people at the point of entry [into academia] or we are changing good people into bad people through our perverse incentives [emphasis added], we are going to pay a horrible price.” (Jha & Farook 2016)

In fact, it is the scientists who are leading the way in trying to stop this dangerous competitive behaviour, so that they can refocus on “intrinsic” goals. Our own colleagues in Life Sciences have signed the international Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), which aims to “change the culture”, enabling scientists to “focus on content” by halting the practice of judging the merits of scientists’ work with reductive metrics such as their journal “impact factor” (DORA 2012).

In the art school the answer is not more “gaming of the system” (Collini 2016, p.36) by devising more absurd projects with ever larger budgets in a futile attempt to break even by creating a research grant “applications treadmill” (anon. 2015c). We must stop wasting our “global resources” producing more yet more “REF guff” (Collini 2016, p.35), chasing the shallow “extrinsic” goal of “being in the top ten art and design schools in the UK, and in the top 50 in the world” (anon. 2015a). We also need to work together to create a pan-institutional pact between all of Scotland’s art schools to stop this nonsense, now.

We must remind ourselves what the purpose of art (or indeed any “scholarship of discovery”) is. That is not to comply with existing systems, but to challenge them, to disrupt them, and in doing so open possibilities for how we might do things better in the future.

We need to fight to retain our integrity. We must save the “scholarship of discovery” (Boyer 1990) from becoming just “another human exercise in chasing targets instead of truths” (Jha & Farook 2016).

Higher Education should not be a competition. It exists to serve society, and play a vital role in our shared “social welfare” and the “emotional development” of all the individuals who take part (Preston 2015, p.17). As science journalist Alok Jha reminds us:

“… it is to the public that we owe our primary allegiance.” (Jha & Farook 2016)

Action!

“We academics have dug ourselves into the nuclear waste tip of the REF; we should green it over and move to another place where we might flourish a little less self-destructively.” (Warner 2015, p.14)

Public Survey: Does more Time = better Teaching?

Does more Time = better Teaching?
Total Participants: 459 (as of 26 April 2016)

A Fair Allocation of Responsibilities

Many of the problems caused by “segregation and specialisation” (Woolf 1938, p.32) described above can be solved at once through a fairer and more transparent allocation of staff responsibilities.

Rather than using “workload allocations”, which are “instructed and implemented” by managers (Warner 2014), we can save resources by using a “simpler and more economical” system (Collini 2016, p.36) which values people and respects the importance of all “four scholarships” (Boyer 1990) to all members of staff, equally.

We must put an end to the practice of allocating time for research sporadically to individual staff based on their “success” in winning research grants. Allowing such an evidently flawed market-mentality into the allocation of our responsibilities creates “uncertainty” for staff and a lack of “involvement in decision making” and “control over work demands”, which are identified by our university as three more of the six major causes of “stress in the workplace” (UoD n.d.).

Instead, we can learn from the success of some excellent creative organisations who grant all members of staff regular research sabbaticals to allow them to “nurtur[e] the singularity of the self” (Arendt 1958, p.134). For example, FoAM, a “cultural laboratory re-imagining possible futures” in Brussels who hibernate every four years to “resist the constant drive towards productivity” (FoAM 2016). Or Casco, the Dutch “Office for Art, Design & Theory,” who have regular practices of pausing and reflection… to “unlearn busyness”. (Beinart 2016)

Everyone is a Teacher

On the flipside, this “simpler and more economical” system (Collini 2016, p.36) will ensure that everyone working in our university including managers at all levels (who are qualified to do so), is allocated time for teaching. This is vital for guaranteeing that all members of staff remain connected to the reason the “college exists for” i.e. the students. (Black Mountain College 1952, p.36)

“A good teacher is always more a learner than a teacher.” (Black Mountain College 1952, p.38)

This will also have a powerful levelling effect; creating humility and understanding amongst staff and openness to the fact that “students [are] partners in learning” ((Healey et al. 2015, p.141)). We can learn as much from our students’ diverse life experiences – ages and backgrounds – as they can from us. This will enable us to work together to create a “collegiate” atmosphere and a “more constructive, dialogue-based relationship between staff and students” (Healey et al. 2015, p.143).

Action!

  • Demand a fair and transparent allocation of staff responsibilities, which values people and respects the importance of all “four scholarships”, to all members of staff, equally.

Quality not Quantity

At Black Mountain College there was one teacher to every two students (Black Mountain College 1952, p.37). “In the 1960s, the average staff:student ratio was around 1:8; now… it is said to be around 1:19.” (Collini 2016, p.36)

We must refuse the logic which implies that the teacher:student ratio must continually decrease. Rather than “pile ‘em high and flog ‘em cheap” (Skidelsky 2005) as our manager’s use of a supermarket analogy suggests (anon. 2015d), we must cap student numbers at one hundred per year, so we can retain a balance of quality over quantity.

Simplifying our operations, distributing resources equally and allocating responsibilities fairly, will give us more teaching staff available to meet the needs of our students. Not only will this improve the quality of education we provide; enabling us to positively “transform lives” (UoD 2012), but it will also allow us to create a less stressful, more social working day.

Reducing working hours is “an essential plank in any response to climate change” bringing “a reduction in the stress, anxiety and mental health problems fostered by neoliberalism” (Srnicek & Williams 2015, p.116). We must start moving towards a society where we can all “work less, consume less, live more” (Coote et al. 2010).

If we limit teaching time to four hours a day, we can make more time for our colleagues and eliminate the last of the six major causes of “stress in the workplace” preventing us from working together excellently. That is “poor communication.” (UoD n.d.)

Communication

We know from the handy colour-coded postcard that communication is the centre of it all (see cover illustration).In Society of the Spectacle, Guy Debord reminds us of the link between the words “communication” and “community” (Debord 1967), “where communication is not the transmission of messages but in some way an ethos of sharing” (Crary 2014, p.120).

This creates a distinction between the digital transmissions which are slowly swamping all our lives and meeting up face-to-face. We must set aside at least an hour from every day to meet and collaborate with colleagues. Not only will this “boost efficiency” by reducing our need to email back-and-forth (Aston College 2013), it will also help “collective critical reflexivity” (Neary & Beetham 2015, p.91) about our own operations and ensure that knowledge from each of the “four scholarships” (Boyer 1990) is being fed back in.

Humans are social creatures. Regular meetings will “set the foundation for trust” (Aston College 2013); enabling us to work together better and avoid misinterpretation and animosity digital communication can create.

Action!

  • Cap student numbers at one hundred per year, or employ more teaching staff.
  • Limit teaching time to four hours per day and allow one hour for meeting up face-to-face with colleagues.

Community

“I imagine a very indistinct line between ‘university’ and ‘community’, instead of the familiar city-on-a-hill frowning down on its neighbours, or the wrought-iron gates by which town and gown have traditionally defined their relationship.” (Rich 1974, p.59)

Universities should not be self-serving institutions. I actually do believe we need to “work as one team to meet the needs and expectations of our community” (UoD 2012). Perhaps the greatest contradiction of all that The Glasgow Effect aimed to expose was the one I am guilty of myself: that I don’t live in the city where I teach. I am not playing my part in creating the “collegiate” atmosphere that our campus universities were designed to foster, where we can:

“… create a sense of community, applicable to ‘life in a modern democracy’, sharing an ‘intellectual and emotional experience’.” (Neary & Beetham 2015, p.89)

Like many other workers in a globalised world, I am “work[ing] long hours, commuting further, to perform tasks that feel increasingly meaningless.” (Srnicek & Williams 2015, p.2). “Commuting difficulties” are cited as one of four key “personal problems which may lead to stress” (UoD n.d.) and yet longer daily commutes are becoming increasingly normalised (ONS 2014).

This is not sustainable, neither for the individuals involved, nor the environment. Globalisation and “internationalisation” – its Higher Education sector equivalent – are having a disastrous impact on our carbon emissions (Klein 2015, p.79).

We must look to the wisdom of Patrick Geddes once again, whose concept of “Place-Work-Folk” (Stephen 2004a, p.22) insists we must design our societies and our lifestyles to create equilibrium between all three.

We must all start to “think global, act local!” (Stephen 2004b). And so, if we are able to work together to really transform our art school by implementing the key actions I have outlined above, this is one contradiction I will personally try to resolve.

“Without a sustainable future, there will not be steady land or stable society to build any ivory towers on.” (Hallenberg 2015, p.216)

References

Appendix 1: The Cheap College

“The part that education plays in human life is so important… Let us then discuss as quickly as we can the sort of education that is needed. Now since history and biography – the only evidence available to an outsider – seem to prove that the old education of the old colleges breeds neither a particular respect for liberty nor a particular hatred of war it is clear that you must rebuild your college differently. It is young and poor; let it therefore take advantage of those qualities and be founded on poverty and youth. Obviously, then, it must be an experimental college, an adventurous college. Let it be built on lines of its own. It must be built not of carved stone and stained glass, but of some cheap, easily combustible material which does not hoard dust and perpetrate traditions… Let it be decorated afresh by each generation with their own hands cheaply. The work of the living is cheap; often they will give it for the sake of being allowed to do it. Next, what should be taught in the new college, the poor college? Not the arts of dominating other people; not the arts of ruling, of killing, of acquiring land and capital. They require too many overhead expenses; salaries and uniforms and ceremonies. The poor college must teach only the arts that can be taught cheaply and practised by poor people. It should teach the arts of human intercourse; the art of understanding other people’s lives and minds, and the little arts of talk, of dress, of cookery that are allied with them. The aim of the new college, the cheap college, should be not to segregate and specialise, but to combine. It should explore the ways in which mind and body can be made to cooperate; discover what new combinations make good wholes in human life. The teachers should be drawn from the good livers as well as from the good thinkers [emphasis added]. There should be no difficulty in attracting them. For there would be none of the barriers of wealth and ceremony, of advertisement and competition which now make the old and rich universities such uneasy dwelling-places… But if the college were poor it would have nothing to offer; competition would be abolished. Life would be open and easy. People who love learning for itself would gladly come there. Musicians, painters, writers, would teach there, because they would learn. What could be of greater help to a writer than to discuss the art of writing with people who were thinking not of examinations or degrees or of what honour or profit they could make literature give them but of the art itself? And so with the other arts and artists. They would come to the poor college and practise their arts there because it would be a place where society was free; not parcelled out into the miserable distinctions of rich and poor, of clever and stupid; but where all the different degrees and kinds of mind, body and soul merit cooperated. Let us then found this new college; this poor college; in which learning is sought for itself; where advertisement is abolished; and there are no degrees; and lectures are not given, and sermons are not preached, and the old poisoned vanities and parades which breed competition and jealousy.” (Woolf 1938, p.32–33)

* I was required to “write and submit a significant research grant application to a research council or the EU (eg. FP7, Horizon 2020, ERC) or other funding body with relevance to discipline (eg. Leverhulme or Wellcome Trust) and gain positive feedback from all the referees prior to the end of probation. If the grant is not successful in being funded it should only be because of a lack of available funding rather than because the application falls short on quality.” (CASE 2012, p.4)

Image: Close-up of the pinboard in Harrison’s studio in Glasgow in 2016, showing a postcard illustrating the University of Dundee’s five “core values” as defined in 2012 as part of Transformation: The New Vision for our University. The values are: valuing people, working together, integrity, making a difference and excellence. They are shown linked together in centre by communication. (UoD 2012)

Practising what we Preach (2016)