Hallman Lecture Diane Phillips

Wednesday, February 1, 2017 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm EST (GMT -05:00)
Diane Phillips

Please join us in welcoming Diane Phillips, Professor in the School of Management, Canberra University, to present the following Hallman Lecture. Information about the speaker is available below.

Refreshments will be provided following the lecture. No RSVP is required.

Fostering the conversation: creativity and innovation at the grassroots for the promotion of health and well-being at the University of Waterloo

The neoliberal movement is broad and impacts on the global to local context within in an education system and university research and innovation environment. One unintended consequence of the neoliberal movement and logic which impacts on university life is how it changes research practice and the resulting creativity and innovation. This lecture explores how the movement of neoliberal logic organises the grassroots, micro or local university level of research practice which, in turn, changes the ways of being and knowing in the lives of university and academic actors and their institutions. It “…seek[s] to describe how power seeps into the very grain of individuals, reaches right inside their bodies, permeates their gestures, their posture, what they say, how they learn to live and work with other people” (Foucault: 1979: 28). Critical theory is the philosophical lens applied in this research, seeking to make the familiar strange (Smith, 1982) and moves toward a Foucauldian Genealogy (Foucault, 1993), an alternative and partial reality and history.

A genealogy provides an opportunity for analyzing the remnants of historical understandings in the contemporary context and discursive formation; expectations, which are forgotten, displaced, made liminal or are silenced, but that never the less function as a powerful construct on and by the subject in the practice of education. The conversation today embraces productive networks of modern power (Foucault, 1979 and Dean, 2015) at a grassroots and fine grained capillary level. Therefore, by embracing productive capillary power, university actors and action can foster creativity and innovation further in the multitude of everyday, taken for granted, micro, grassroots level small spaces. Constituting an antidote and a grassroots tonic to neoliberal thought with the intention to reduce tensions and promote health and wellbeing of research at many levels in universities. Thus, making the familiarity of neoliberal practices such as competition, collaboration, cooptition, compliance and conformity, strange, (Smith, 1987) and focusing on the broader greater good concept of collegiality, this still holds as an element in the psychological contract (Blackman & Phillips, 2012) for university actors. 

Collegial practices are undertaken for the greater good of the institution and of knowledge itself, rather than as a collaborative means to an end or a strategic outcome. For example utility or being useful, personal and institutional sharing of knowledge, opportunity and equity and safety. Trust, comfort, rewarding risk taking and low power differentials can be the small spaces linked in a network that have power. Applying the concept of a network of modern productive capillary power draws on and assembles a variegated, mutated and hybrid (Springer, 2016) network of collegial characteristics and actions that result in a change for how academic actors conduct themselves. They may still act in neoliberal ways; however they counteract the everyday neoliberal ideology by fostering a conversation of collegiality and the academic values of sharing, trusting, risk-taking, and respect. Enhancing the very fabric of the university in confidence, in sharing, utility and opportunity, lead to the enrichment of the research eco-system and the values which create new knowledge: creativity and innovation and enhances the wellbeing of the university and its staff.

Key words:  neoliberalism, university governance, commodification, knowledge markets, research practice, freedom, power, normalisation, new public management

About the speaker