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Painting and shaping Learning Landscapes with Assemblages in mind

by Peter Goodyear

This third SRHE Landscapes of Learning symposium – Assemblages – was a deeply engrossing and thought-provoking event. In this response, I want to do three things: pick and connect some particularly fruitful points from each talk – there were many, so this is hard; comment on assemblages and assemblage thinking in relation to current and future learning arrangements, and segue into the practical work of realising better spaces for learning in better universities. Landscapes are both depicted and made. An alertness to relations and flux can sharpen our perception, but can an assemblage sensibility inform better architecture?

Points plucked from the talks

Carol Taylor’s keynote made a persuasive case for connecting Deleuzian thinking about assemblages with a broad set of posthuman perspectives. She went on to offer an impressive array of spatially and materially-grounded example studies, illustrating her approach and also inspiring further research. Assemblage thinking helps us to see things that would otherwise be invisible, to give (almost?) simultaneous attention to questions of how, why, when and what, and to refuse sharp distinctions between bodies, things, words, ideas and feelings – to start with relations between things, rather than with the things themselves. Forming better ways of understanding the circumstances in which things happen is important for students of all fields and disciplines. It is important for teachers and other education workers in a second sense, because it helps set up situations for valued learning and for inducting students into practices of knowledge-making, including the practices of shaping convivial epistemic environments for themselves.

Tim Fawns used ideas of entanglement to reconcile hackneyed arguments about “technology in the service of pedagogy” vs “technology as driving and constraining pedagogy”. Pedagogy first or technology first? In most cases of educational innovation, pedagogical practices and technological infrastructures already exist and are used to justify, explain and constrain one another. They are already assembling or, one might even say, co-constituting one another. This argument is even stronger if one looks more broadly at the personal aims and technologies that students bring with them, and when one takes properly into account the complicated learning places that students configure, furnish and equip for themselves and their peers. 

Karen Gravett’s talk made clear that very little is known about how students’ activities are distributed in space, how students find, make and curate places for learning and what this means for matters of belonging (to a university). Certainly, university teachers and leaders cannot claim to know this in any representative, well-theorised or systematic way. Indeed, it emerges that there are many ways of belonging, no one way of managing campus spaces to afford inclusion and no simple metric connecting qualities of place with feelings of belonging, such as might be useful for an estates director’s KPIs.

Harriet Shortt researches relations between places, artefacts and organizational life, including places we might too-simply tag as “for work” or “for learning”. The main research site she spoke about was a newly-built Business School, though she was using this to advocate for participant-led visual methods: getting the users of buildings to photograph places of significance to them and share their annotated images. This is very useful for post-occupancy evaluation but also raises lots of deeper questions about place-making, including how people reconfigure places to resolve tensions between privacy and community, or collaboration and interruption.

The four talks illustrate the importance of understanding study activities through students’ eyes and experiences, with a capacious framing – so that what students curate and contribute isn’t simply missed – and then weaving more elaborate descriptions that catch multiple entanglements (place, tools, tasks, bodies, minds etc) so that all participants and stakeholders can agree a shared understanding of how things are being achieved, sufficient to improve the circumstances in which joint work is done. Subtle observation and an openness to complexity are important when making descriptions of how things are coming to be as they are. Then provisional simplifications are needed to agree on collective action.            

Assemblages and assemblage thinking

At several points in the “Assemblages” symposium, a leitmotif emerged: an allusion to using theoretical language at Academic Board. This recognisable shorthand conjures up our shared frustrations, as scholars of higher education, with the conceptual and linguistic gaps between research, policy and practice and with a paradox at the heart of educational work in universities: the insistence on discussing education in a vernacular language, unpolluted with exotic terms-of-art.

I am academic enough to value fine-grained disputes between knowledgeable scholars over what Deleuze and Guattari were trying to say when they wrote about rhizomes, lines-of-flight, segmentarity or assemblage. I also endorse something Carol Taylor said about the dangers of extracting ideas and terms from their intellectual homes and deploying mangled versions of them to serve dubious ends.  

But, in my own practice, I am deeply invested in understanding how knowledge, ways of knowing and ways of coming to know, that emerge in our work as scholars of education, can be made useful to other teachers and to students.  I have a practical interest in this occurring, coupled with an intellectual interest in how people actually do this work; I study epistemic practices at the boundaries of disciplines and professions. I try to understand what happens when (say) university managers in education, campus infrastructure and IT try to create better learning spaces or when people try to help design ideas travel. In thinking about “assemblage”, I am interested in how clusters of ideas migrate and become useful – to students, when they are tackling challenges that matter to them – and to teachers, architects, technologists and others involved in shaping educational spaces. So, I would say:

  • Whatever disciplines, professions or roles our students might be preparing themselves for, they will need subtle and sophisticated tools for understanding the world and acting ethically and effectively with others. Posthuman and postdigital perspectives can help students analyse the complex (learning) situations in which they find themselves, and reflect more deeply about how good work is accomplished.   
  • Scholarly teaching must acknowledge the complexities and risks involved when ideas move outside the domain of specialist scholarly debate. It is one thing to induct students into academic life by modelling scholarly disputation. It is quite another to maim or kill a half-grasped idea while it is in flight. There is a time and a place for correcting other people’s use of the term “assemblage” – but perhaps not at meetings of Academic Board.  

It’s also worth noting that “assemblage” exists somewhat independently as a technical term in fields such as archaeology, ecology, data science and art practice. One can use the noun “assemblage” to speak about the toolset of an ancient culture, the animals and plants typically inhabiting an area, a complex data set or a three-dimensional collage of objets trouvés, though these usages don’t normally have strong connotations of flux and evolution, such as we find when assemblage is understood as a verb. Moreover, there are lines of analysis within organisational science and science and technology studies (STS) that talk cogently about sociomaterial and sociotechnical assemblages, free from any visible Deleuzian mooring. I’m thinking, for example, of writing by Wanda Orlikowski, Susan Scott and Lucy Suchman on  technology in organisations and sociomaterial entanglements in working practices: productive resources for thinking about educational technology, technology in higher education, current and future learning spaces.

In sum, “assemblage” helps us notice and depict sociomaterial relations and change, but it is not the sole preserve of Deleuzian scholarship.

Learning landscapes: making places for coming-to-know

“A key element of placemaking is thus its open-ended and contingent nature. Placemaking is a dynamic experience, through which people, practice and the materiality of place undergo constant change.” (Sweeney et al, 2018, 582).

Harriett Shortt asked why so many new campus buildings mirror corporate head offices. Why do estates directors and architects impose these giant glazed voids upon us? She asked us to think of other more congenial forms: galleries and museums, for example. I think we should also be bolder and think how it might become possible for everyone involved in university life to engage in intentional place-making. We see what can be done in course and curriculum design through movements such as “Students as Partners”. We get other glimpses of what’s possible in the place-making events captured in the images our speakers shared. Beyond that, I suggest, we might try to make a scholarship of learning places that works in symbiosis with much more organic, bottom-up developments: less concerned with space-efficiency metrics and enabling the corporate; more invested in giving biophilic form to the market-place of ideas. There’s a well-established strand of work in architecture, urban planning and place-making on which we can draw. Christopher Alexander, Jane Jacobs, Marwa al-Sabouni and Thomas Heatherwick spring to mind.

It can be helpful to make a distinction, in educational work, between analysis and design. The first tries to depict and understand an existing state of affairs. The second involves steps to protect or improve upon it. The two depend upon one another, but work upon different objects. They require a dual ontology. In reflecting upon past and present educational events, we do well to acknowledge that tasks, tools and people are deeply entangled – considering assemblages or agencement helps here. But in thinking about what we can change (eg for the next time a course is run, or for the layout of a new learning space), we must break tangled realities into components over which we have some control. By “we” I don’t just mean teacher-designers or learning space researchers. Everyone has a role in this kind of place-making.

Collectively shaping material instances of what Raewyn Connell calls the “Good University” or Ron Barnett calls the “Ecological University” involves some tricky challenges. How do we form coalitions around images of what universities should be doing? How do we identify zones in which we have power to make change – including changes that give us more power to make other changes? How do we consolidate incremental changes so that we don’t dissipate our strength in perpetual defensive work? How do we co-create the infrastructure and reshape the landscapes that afford more socially responsible, sustainable and just ways of working and learning together?

Some of this may still be in our DNA. Jane Jacobs closed her great book on the organized complexity of cities with the following words. I like to think we can apply them to universities.

“Dull, inert cities, it is true, do contain the seeds of their own destruction and little else. But lively, diverse, intense cities contain the seeds of their own regeneration, with energy enough to carry over for problems and needs outside themselves.” (Jacobs, 1961, p448)

Peter Goodyear is Emeritus Professor of Education at The University of Sydney. His research on place, space and learning has appeared in a number of books, including “The Education ecology of universities: integrating learning, strategy and the academy” (Routledge/SRHE, with Rob Ellis, 2019); “Spaces of teaching and learning: integrating research and practice” (Springer, with Rob Ellis, 2018) and “Place-based spaces for networked learning” (Routledge, with Lucila Carvalho & Maarten de Laat, 2017).

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Landscapes of learning for unknown futures: presenter responses to audience questions (Assemblages Symposium)

by Karen Gravett and Tim Fawns

SRHE’s ‘Landscapes of Learning for Unknown Futures: prospects for space in higher education’ symposium series, delivered with Professor Sam Elkington and Dr Jill Dickinson, aims to foster continuous dialogue around learning spaces. Here, two of our presenters Dr Karen Gravett and Tim Fawns, reflect on some of the ideas and issues raised during the third symposium on ‘Assemblages’. This blog has been compiled by Sam Elkington, Jill Dickinson, and Rihana Suliman (SRHE Conferences and Events Manager.)

What is the role for human agency in these types of assemblages with human and non-human actors, so as not to feel helpless or a “cog” while respecting the need to de-centre the human?

Karen: Humans still have a key role within assemblages but the perspective is shifted from thinking about the relational connection between humans and nonhumans or materials. This enables us to ask new questions, for example with respect to teaching in a classroom, we might notice not just what the teacher is doing or student is doing, but how the space and objects within the class interrelate and entangle to shape learning in different ways. How do bodies and spaces work together and connect? How are relations shaped by object-space arrangements in classrooms and what inclusions or exclusions are produced as a result?

Tim: Agency is always relational, contingent on the agency of other elements. The agency of humans is constrained by the people, technologies and materials we are bound to or surrounded by. However, a complex understanding of constraint also allows for more agency, because by understanding how they are constrained, humans have more possibilities for action. We can more clearly where we can act on entangled relations. For example, by better understanding our place within a system, we can more easily see the different places where we might be able to reconfigure things to free up space to move.

The teaching approach at many HE institutions is heavily lecture-based. How does this lack of interaction with students affect the conversation we’re having around assemblages and learning space more broadly?

Karen: Teaching that does not include interactions between students and teachers or students and peers and that is transmission focused suits many of the traditional tiered teaching spaces that still dominate UK universities today. This is how we often assume teaching should ‘be done’ to students. If we think about these kinds of object-space arrangements we can see that they may not be conducive to creating meaningful dialogue, to fostering relationships, to engaging a diversity of learners, or to enabling innovative teaching to happen. Fortunately, there is also a lot of creative teaching that is happening both within and beyond these spaces that teachers can learn from. Teachers have always found ways to be subversive and also institutions are increasingly creating new and more flexible learning spaces.

Tim: I am wary of assumptions that there is no interaction in lectures. There is always interaction (and intra-action) in any educational activity; that is one of the premises of an assemblage. In this question, the lack of interaction is seen from the teacher’s point of view. It is important that we focus on what students are actually doing rather than what we assume they must be doing according to a particular teaching method. Spaces are always complex; there are always many things going on, many of which will divert from our expectations. However, the material configuration of a space (e.g. tiered lecture seating and a podium), and the scheduling of time, do impose real constraints on the activity that is likely to manifest. Within any method, we can tinker with these parameters of material and temporal configuration and, thereby, open up more possibilities for agency.

Where does collaborative learning happen in our future learning landscapes? We still seem to work in a very individualist learning mode, through assessment practices to curricula and beyond…

Karen: Yes there is a real need to move beyond values of individualism that are present within both academia and society, and to think about our relational connections and how these matter. Collaboration can happen everywhere and anywhere – via a student-staff partnership project; via dialogic modes of teaching, via group work, via walking and other creative pedagogies. Online and offline. We just have to value it and make it happen.

Tim: That our assessment processes and practices, and our formal structures of higher education, are so tightly configured around individualist learning is a challenge. However, it doesn’t change the fact that collaborative learning is inevitable and, to me, the primary form of learning, particularly if we are thinking of assemblages. As we continue to embed more collective and collaborative practices in education, such as student co-design, group work, and the integration of artificial intelligence technologies, alternative narratives will emerge that fit better with our experiences of collective learning and education. It will be fascinating to see if we adapt practices, policies and structures in response, and how the different narratives – collective and individual – will co-exist in tension and negotiation.

Some universities have created a lot of flexible collaborative classroom spaces – we find that when we create them at my institution, faculty either don’t know how to utilise them or prefer to still use them as lecture halls continuing the individualist learning.  How can we create a space that ‘entangles’ both?

Karen: I find really helpful what Diane Mulcahy (2018, p 13) says about space, that “Thinking the term ‘learning spaces’ as something we do (stage, perform, enact), rather than something we have (infrastructure) affords acknowledging the multiplicity, mutability and mutual inclusivity of spatial and pedagogic practices”. In this case educators may need support to think about how they can make and enact the classroom to become an inclusive space. In my institution this happens via conversations for example as part of our PGCLTHE or other peer observation and mentoring practices. Perhaps teachers could be supported to see different ways to teach and to learn from others who are innovating and experimenting in the classroom.

Tim: The configuration of those spaces is actually a big step forward, even if practice and culture are slow to adapt to the new possibilities. A large part of what we need to do now is share practice and engage in open conversations about new possibilities. Individualist teaching may be the bigger barrier here: if we teach as individuals not as teams, and if we don’t talk enough about what we are all doing, we will have less exposure to alternative ways of educating. I think we are then less likely to develop practices that attune to wider contexts and possibilities.


Mulcahy, Dianne (2018) ‘Assembling Spaces of Learning ‘In’ Museums and Schools: A Practice-Based Sociomaterial Perspective.’ in Spaces of Teaching and Learning, Understanding Teaching-Learning Practice, edited by Ellis, E and Goodyear, P 13–29. Singapore: Springer

Dr Karen Gravett is Associate Professor and Director of Research at the Surrey Institute of Education at the University of Surrey, UK, where her research focuses on the theory-practice of higher education, and explores the areas of student engagement, belonging, and relational pedagogies. She is Director of the Language, Literacies and Learning research group, a member of the SRHE Governing Council, and a member of the editorial board for Teaching in Higher Education, and Learning, Media and Technology. Her work has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, the Society for Research in Higher Education, the Association for Learning Development in Higher Education, the British Association for Applied Linguistics, and the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Her latest books are: Gravett, K. (2023) Relational Pedagogies: Connections and Mattering in Higher Education, and Kinchin, IM and Gravett, K (2022) Dominant Discourses in Higher Education.

Tim Fawns is Associate Professor at the Monash Education Academy, Monash University, Australia. Tim’s research interests are at the intersection between digital, clinical and higher education, with a particular focus on the relationship between technology and educational practice. He has recently published a book titled Online Postgraduate Education in a Postdigital World: Beyond Technology. Personal website: Twitter: @timbocop

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Landscapes of Learning for Unknown Futures: Reflections on the Assemblages Symposium

by Sam Elkington and Jill Dickinson

Wednesday September 13th was the final instalment of the three-part SRHE ‘Landscapes of Learning for Unknown Futures: prospects for space in higher education’ symposia series, delivered in partnership with series co-convenors Professor Sam Elkington and Dr Jill Dickinson.

This was the final symposium in the series following on from the inaugural symposium event (in April 2023), which used the lens of ‘Networks’ to discuss contemporary evidence of how HE learning spaces are becoming increasingly connected, permeable, and interwoven (both physically and digitally), revealing increasingly adaptive learning environments. A second symposium event (in June) took up the lens of ‘Flexibilities’, engaging the idea of flexibility as a critical and prevalent aspect of how learning is situated relative to the demands of students for greater control in fitting their studies around their learning needs and preferences, as well as other aspects of their lives outside education.


In this final symposium, we shifted the focus by using the lens of ‘assemblages’ to examine the expanding range of contemporary HE learning spaces and the heterogenous collection of material and non-material, human and non-human elements that compose them. Through this lens we can glimpse how, as educators, we must work with a larger amalgam of discourses, bodies, ideas, objects, tools, technologies, and institutional structures and processes to negotiate and construct practice and meaning for the purposes of learning. Such a view offers leverage on contemporary learning spaces without making totalising claims about their character and form, and without demanding arbitrary distinctions in service of some simplified conceptualisation of their functionality – the ‘lecture’ space, the ‘social’ space, the ‘personal’ study space. Instead, the idea of assemblage contrasts such simplification with complexity, a distinction each of our presenters sought to interrogate and elaborate in their own way.

In her keynote address (“Posthuman pedagogic assemblages: Reconceptualising how objects, bodies, materialities, affects and spaces come to matter in higher education landscapes of learning”), Professor Carol Taylor (Bath) wove together an array of theorical perspectives to present a ‘working’ framework for better understanding emerging posthuman pedagogic assemblages, as a means of pushing back against unsettled current and ongoing conditions. Combining insights from her own investigations of posthuman materialities with critical contributions by Braidotti (2019), Barad (2007), Delanda (2006) and Bennett (2010), Carol moved to trouble normalised and common sense ideas about knowledge-making and space. She argued for the need to pay new attention in profoundly changed (and not yet post-) pandemic times to the entangled, productive, and ever-changing constellations and configurations – assemblages – of objects, bodies, spaces, materialities and affects, and how they come to matter in contemporary HE. Considered from this perspective, assemblages help us understand how things happen – as a process, rather than a stable or static enactment ‘in space’.

For Carol, this renders explicit the importance of humans as ‘beings-in-relation’ and pushes beyond a view of space as a container to one of direct material engagements in the world, of unfolding ‘material moments’ and of ‘affective flows’ where digital, physical, and biological boundaries are blurred. Carol provided compelling examples to illustrate the analytic value of transdisciplinary theoretical assemblages in the creation of new knowledge of, and for, landscapes of learning in HE. Assemblages are complex, concurrently emergent and convergent. They make us think outside  hierarchical ways of working. This opens the way to a radical reconceptualisation of the learner-as-assemblage, and of pedagogy as a spatial-material praxis comprising material and expressive properties. That shapes how we tune into everyday HE spaces, as well as our own complexities in shaping and perpetuating educational practices that comprise them.

In his presentation (“Mutually navigating the messy, postdigital spaces of education: entangled design, practice, and knowledge”) Tim Fawns (Monash) drew together ideas from postdigital education, and his own work exploring entangled pedagogy, to consider some of the pressing and ‘messy’ tensions around learning and space design, practice, policy, infrastructure, and relational knowledge and expertise across different institutional levels. Tim challenged the conventional attitude that holds learning spaces as fixed ideas; instead, he suggests all spaces are postdigital, comprised of an ongoing (re)shaping of purposes, context, values, methods, and technologies. Technologies for learning are multiple and contingent, assembled by their (intra)actions and potential for meaning-making in that moment, for those individuals and/or groups involved. Amidst such complexity, Tim showed how our actions acquire more meanings and resonances, such that our movements in and through spaces are not easily summarised or simply presented. All agency in these assemblages is distributed, it is relational and contingent – it is entangled. This should move us past fixed conceptions of how things are and how things are done. This includes the dominant mindset of context last, (pedagogical) method first . It reveals the practical importance of developing and honing a relational expertise – the ability to configure and orchestrate pedagogical assemblages as a means of negotiating spaces for learning. From this entangled perspective, there are always more spaces going on. Physical spaces overlay arbitrary concepts of structure and control to reveal borders that are blurred and porous, where learning leaks out, and in, from ‘other’ connected spaces, offering different meaning(s) depending on what is happening. For Tim, the goal here is to show that the apparent immediacy of space is always mediated, more complex than it appears – linked to, and made what it is by, relations to other people, objects, and spaces. It exists within an ongoing process that sustains and recreates it.

Karen Gravett (Surrey), in her talk (“Assemblages of belonging in the digital university”) continued along a relational plane of inquiry, approaching ideas of materiality and human connection in digital educational environments through her research examining student engagement, belonging, and mattering in higher education. Karen used the lens of assemblages to animate the many (inter)connections students have with different spaces within the digital university, and how these spaces are at once shaped by and situated within a multiplicity of things, both human and non-human, material and non-material. By examining the situated character of spaces experienced by students, Karen’s research has shown the importance and value of better understanding how the (inter)relationships within those spaces work, and how students go about designing and curating different components of space to create their own spaces, that belong to them. Crucially, this is a relational and processual belonging – it is not a static quality of space – connected to a variety of different objects and materialities that move and change with the students themselves. For Karen, paying attention to how such relations work, to affective encounters and the situatedness of students’ experiences of belonging, encourages us to think about, and actively focus on, equity issues and the plausible (dis)continuities of assemblages in shaping student belonging. This raises important questions around who can and cannot curate assemblages of belonging. Karen’s research has revealed that students’ sense of belonging is experienced in many different ways (even in the same spaces), supporting and connecting to multiple communities. In response, we must develop environments and practices that attend to the inherent complexity of students’ situated experiences of belonging, built upon values of openness, flexibility, and honesty.  

In the final presentation (“Picturing Places for Learning – how photographs tell stories about where learning happens”), Harriet Shortt (UWE, Bristol) shared work exploring the affordances of visual methods for providing rich new ways of seeing and understanding spaces and places for learning. Harriet drew together insights from a variety of research projects that have used participant-led photography to investigate user experiences of different buildings and the materiality of work amidst a drive towards more ‘open’ learning spaces. Greater openness might, on the one hand, permit opportunities for a shared transparency and grounds on which to hone relational expertise (as discussed by Tim Fawns and Karen Gravett). On the other hand, it can lead to feelings of exposure and lack of privacy for students and staff. Harriet’s research provides insights into how people organically manage the lack of privacy that such spaces present, by creating their own spaces that are intentionally sheltered from (over)exposure through the (re)organisation of space, objects, and things. Exposure to increasingly open spaces can invite spontaneous interactions and unscheduled conversations that might be desirable, from an organisational perspective, for encouraging connections between stakeholders. However, according to Harriet’s research, the lived experience of constant connection and always being seen can erode any sense of privacy or personal space which can, in turn, be detrimental for the quality of experience had by students and staff alike. Harriet used the analogy of ‘den building’ as a provocative means of illustrating how many people in her studies have resorted to seeking out or creating ‘just-for-me’ spaces where they can detach from others and determine routines and limits that are personal their circumstances and needs. Harriet’s work asks important questions around whether we should be redesigning learning spaces and wider campus infrastructure to allow for what she termed ‘being alone together’ spaces to emerge and exist, spaces where people (students and staff) can be alone but also maintain a sense of connection.

Following this formal part of the session, we invited the keynote speaker and the presenters to engage in a panel discussion. Chaired by Professor Sam Elkington, this provided opportunities to highlight, and focus in on, some of the cross-cutting themes that had started to emerge from the earlier discussions. It also provided space for more collaborative and reflective discussion and Q&A with the audience. Key points included:

  • a need for collaborative approaches to instigating a ‘values-based institutional reinvigoration’ around learning spaces
  • the disconnect between the architectural trend towards ‘homogenised’ learning spaces and the values that we, as educators, seek to instil in teaching and learning
  • the increased transparency of learning spaces, and the consequent need to find, and perhaps claim, less-exposed learning spaces, and ‘alone-together spaces’, particularly given well-documented issues around mental health and wellbeing, and sense of belonging
  • potential options for ‘disrupting’ pre-allocated spaces by arranging and/or using them in different ways, by bringing in different materials, or by restriking the power dynamic between tutor and students, by encouraging students to explore the spaces available for themselves
  • the important role that visual methods can play in encouraging engagement with research findings around this theme and a need for meaningful, collaborative stakeholder engagement, and from start-to-finish, in the future development of learning spaces

The keynote, the presentations, and the panel discussion in this third and final symposium encouraged the speakers and the audience to engage not only with the thoughts and ideas presented in this session but also draw links with the earlier symposia around the themes of Networks and Flexibilities to develop more holistic understandings given the multiplicities and complexities that characterise learning spaces.

From the outset we envisaged this Symposia Series as an integral part of a longer-term project that continues to push to the fore conversations about the future possibilities for learning spaces within HE. We want to bring together, and engage, a range of key stakeholders in meaningful discussions and debate to help support evidence-based decision making. When we designed the series we also saw it as an opportunity to test options around multimodality for continuing conversations where everyone with an interest could engage with the range of synchronous and asynchronous elements on offer. These included traditional ‘conference-style’ formats such as key notes and presentations, sketch notes, social media discussions, and reflective blogs.

We’re looking forward to reporting on the findings from the project at this year’s Annual Society for Research into Higher Education International Conference. As part of that presentation, we will also be asking the key question ‘So what, now what?’ and outlining our plans for the next stage of the project and calls for others to get involved in the community of practice we have developed around this theme.


Barad K. (2007) Meeting the Universe Half-way. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Bennett, J. (2010). Vibrant matter: A political ecology of things. Duke University Press.

Braidotti, R. (2019). A theoretical framework for the critical posthumanities. Theory, culture & society, 36(6), 31-61.

DeLanda, M. (2019). A new philosophy of society: Assemblage theory and social complexity. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Sam Elkington is Professor of Learning and Teaching at Teesside University where he leads on the University’s learning and teaching enhancement portfolio. Sam is a PFHEA and National Teaching Fellow (NTF, 2021). He has worked in Higher Education for over 15 years and has extensive experience working across teaching, research and academic leadership and policy domains. Most recently Sam worked for Advance HE (formerly the Higher Education Academy) where he was national lead for Assessment and Feedback and Flexible Learning in Higher Education. Sam’s most recent book (with Professor Alastair Irons) explores contemporary themes in formative assessment and feedback in higher education: Irons and Elkington (2021) Enhancing learning through formative assessment and feedback London: Routledge.

Dr Jill Dickinson is a Reader of Law at Leeds Beckett University. As an SFHEA, Jill was also selected as a Reviewer for the Advance HE Global Teaching Excellence Awards, and she has been shortlisted for National Teaching Fellowship. A former Solicitor, specialising in property portfolio management, Jill’s research focuses on place-making and professional development, and her work has been recognised in the Emerald Literati Awards for Excellence. Jill holds a number of editorial roles, including board memberships for Teaching in Higher Education and the Journal of Place Management and Development. She has recently co-edited a multidisciplinary collection entitled Professional Development for Practitioners in Academia: Pracademia and co-founded communities of practice around this theme.