Semester Two 2017

Thursday 26 October


Professor Valerie Harwood

Collaboration and thinking, thinking and collaboration

6pm Lecture Theatre 424

…the principles by which we act and the criteria by which we judge and conduct our lives depend ultimately on the life of the mind.

(Hannah Arendt, The Life of the Mind, 1971, p.71)

By unlearning, by repeatedly tugging at hobbled interpretation and the threads of her own thought, Arendt ventured upon ‘the festival of life’.

(Marie Louise Knott, Unlearning with Hannah Arendt, 2011, p.113)

Our creative work as researchers will always, in one way or another, be in connection with something and/or someone. While there are many ways this can be understood, at the heart of this claim is the idea we are working with and for, something and/or someone. Yet, at times being a researcher can seem an isolated endeavour. Questions of isolation also map onto a research climate that is demanding we describe the impact of our work. In this presentation I will consider the question of ‘isolation’ and make some tentative suggestions about how it might be differently understood and approached. I propose to do this by considering what Arendt calls the ‘activity of thinking’ and how this activity of the mind is very much connected with the ‘festival of life’. Via this connectedness, thinking and collaboration or collaboration and thinking might be conceived as amongst our key practices as researchers. Indeed, this might well prompt us to be more aware of, as well as look for and welcome, our collaborations – and possibly better understand and think about the concept of ‘impact’. Drawing on some of my research experience and ongoing learning with collaboration and sharing, I will sketch out how collaboration might occur in myriad ways, might have myriad beneficial effects, and might open us to the surprising, the creative and to the friendship of thinking.

Professor Valerie Harwood is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow and Professor of Sociology and Anthropology of Education, Sydney School of Education and Social Work, University of Sydney. Her research is centred on a social and cultural analysis of access and participation in educational futures.


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