22 SES 11 A, The Agency Game in Academic Development: Compliance or Resistance?
This introductory paper unpacks the main concepts traversing this symposium: agency, compliance and resistance (as applied to academic development). Words such as ‘agency’, ‘compliance’ and ‘resistance’ have each a rich philosophical history. At a first glance, taken together, they evoke thoughts of tensions, norms, freedom, obligations, positions, strategies, fluidity, playing and will within intricate power systems. Systemic is in fact the general approach adopted in this symposium. By this, it is meant that academic development is conceived as an activity and a profession whose complexity and diversity derive from it being embedded within the intricacies typical of fast changing higher education today and to which academic developers adapt in a variety of ways that are relative to structural contingencies (institutional, national, international), as these interact with the developers’ own and work group professional beliefs and values about higher education (Trowler, 2008). The result is, of necessity, an elaborate fluid patchwork on which this symposium intends to throw some light, at this moment in time and within two specific contexts (Polish and Belgian). The ultimate aim of the paper is to unravel the concept political ontology (understood as complex value structures) in academic development that underpins the two case studies proposed.
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