The Quest for the Public Intellectual, Identity and Service
Edited By Karen Ragoonaden
Chapter Eight: Academic Identity Within Contested Spaces of a University in Transition
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Academic Identity Within Contested Spaces of a University in Transition
The chapters in this collection reflect on the nature of academic work in the context of a new university struggling to determine its identity and niche within the higher education landscape in Canada. Shaped by historical and societal realities, identity, whether personal, professional, or institutional, is fluid and malleable, allowing us to make sense of who we are, the places we come from, and our relationships with others (James & Shadd, 2001). Individual and institutional, identity is in a continual process of construction and reconstruction, and the impact of negotiating this complex developmental process is a significant and, sometimes, traumatic experience (Dwyer, 1999; Mogadime, 2004). In a transition from a long history as a teaching university college to being a sister campus of a top research-intensive university, the complex dynamics of this process is reflected in the narratives and the scholastic initiatives of the authors. These colleagues recognize that with this affiliation comes a new identity, elevated expectations, a shift in the core mission, and dominant values that govern academic life, as well as policies and procedures designed for the established university. The core challenge for all members of this community, particularly former senior administrators and faculty members of the university college system, resides in stepping up to the uncompromising expectations to perform according to new professional and scholarly criteria, to interpret policies to address the regional context...
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