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Research Excellence is a Neo-Colonial Agenda

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Talk given at the On Think Tanks meeting in Geneva in February 2019. Discusses the way in which research excellence is constructed and tends to 'internationalise' networks. Using the Sabato-Botana triangle as a model it argues for the importance of localism and the need for contextualised conceptions of excellence if research is to deliver value for the communities that support it.

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Research Excellence is a Neo-Colonial Agenda

  1. 1. Research Excellence is a Neo-colonial Agenda @cameronneylon http://orcid.org/0000-0002-0068-716X On Think Tanks, Geneva, 6 February 2019 http://bit.ly/OTT-Neylon-Excellence
  2. 2. Excellence…
  3. 3. “[…a] commitment to excellence and advancement on merit” University College London
  4. 4. …to strive for excellence and distinction… Curtin University
  5. 5. “[…a] commitment to excellence and advancement on merit” University College London
  6. 6. We prize excellence Cape Peninsula University of Technology
  7. 7. We demand excellence University of Westminster
  8. 8. …with world- class excellence across all of its departments Princeton
  9. 9. excellence in…?
  10. 10. excellence in professionally relevant teaching University of Westminster
  11. 11. excellence in research and education Indiana University
  12. 12. excellence in teaching, research, and public engagement Cornell University
  13. 13. …a center of excellence for cultural, athletic and other events University of Toledo
  14. 14. How can we determine or measure… “excellence”?
  15. 15. We prize academic excellence at UC Davis. More than 500 of our faculty have earned prestigious [..] honors[..] rank[ings]. UC Davis
  16. 16. Pursuing excellence means being satisfied with no less than the highest goals we can envision. University of Missouri
  17. 17. Pursuing excellence involves being informed by regional, national and global standards, as well as our personal expectations. University of Missouri
  18. 18. “excellence” is the holy grail of academic life Michèle Lamont How Professors Think
  19. 19. excellence is produced and defined in a multitude of sites and by an array of actors Michèle Lamont How Professors Think
  20. 20. excellence is produced and defined in a multitude of sites and by an array of actors Michèle Lamont How Professors Think
  21. 21. excellence is produced and defined in a multitude of sites and by an array of actors Michèle Lamont How Professors Think
  22. 22. excellence is produced and defined in a multitude of sites and by an array of actors Michèle Lamont How Professors Think
  23. 23. “excellence” tells us nothing about how important the science is and everything about who decides. Jack Stilgoe Against Excellence
  24. 24. Using the word excellence is a way of avoiding a difficult conversation
  25. 25. Using the word excellence is a way of avoiding talking about values
  26. 26. Impact “excellence” becomes a performance
  27. 27. Impact …performance of “excellence”
  28. 28. Impact …in the place of excellent performance
  29. 29. Excellence…
  30. 30. Excellence… …is contextual
  31. 31. Excellence… …is dangerous
  32. 32. …is a Neo-colonial Agenda Excellence…
  33. 33. Excellence… …is a Neo-colonial Agenda
  34. 34. …in a post-colonial context Knowledge production…
  35. 35. …for international profile Knowledge production…
  36. 36. …for local problem solving Knowledge production…
  37. 37. …for absorptive capacity Knowledge production…
  38. 38. …for Keynesian economics Knowledge production…
  39. 39. …is resource intensive Knowledge production…
  40. 40. …needs to be done well Knowledge production…
  41. 41. What does it mean for it… …to be done well?
  42. 42. Is there local capacity to tell if… …it is done well?
  43. 43. This is a classical …post-colonial analysis
  44. 44. Excellence… …is a Neo-colonial Agenda
  45. 45. Excellence… …in its implementation is new
  46. 46. “TheexcellenceofDrCockayne’swork” “…excellenceofBritish gunnery….” “…centresofexcellence….”“…research excellence….” “…sustainingexcellence….”
  47. 47. Excellence… …in its implementation is new …with new models and new actors
  48. 48. Excellence… …in its implementation is new …with new models and new actors …and new forms of structural bias
  49. 49. 0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 % contributor to mortality #ofWoSArticles2013-18 0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000 7000 0 20 40 HIV Stroke Diabetes Heart Disease Lower Respiratory Infection Diarrhoea Road Injury
  50. 50. Gobierno Infraestructura científico-tecnológica Estructura productiva
  51. 51. Sabato and Botana (1968) Gobierno Infraestructura científico-tecnológica Estructura productiva
  52. 52. Gobierno Infraestructura científico-tecnológica Estructura productiva Sabato and Botana (1968)
  53. 53. Gobierno Infraestructura científico-tecnológica Estructura productiva Sabato and Botana (1968)
  54. 54. Sabato and Botana (1968) Gobierno Infraestructura científico-tecnológica Estructura productiva
  55. 55. Gobierno Infraestructura científico-tecnológica Estructura productiva
  56. 56. Gobierno Infraestructura científico-tecnológica Estructura productiva
  57. 57. Gobierno Infraestructura científico-tecnológica Estructura productiva
  58. 58. Gobierno Infraestructura científico-tecnológica Estructura productiva
  59. 59. John O’Sullivan https://visual.ly/community/infographic/transportation/world-airline-routes-map
  60. 60. Leydesdorff et al (2013) https://arxiv.org/abs/1301.0801
  61. 61. Building the right networks…
  62. 62. …requires institutionalizing locality
  63. 63. Gobierno Infraestructura científico-tecnológica Estructura productiva
  64. 64. …lead the world In the aspirational, longer term…
  65. 65. 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% HIV Stroke Diabetes HeartDisease Lowerrespiratory infections Diarrhoea Roadinjury % Open Access to Publications from South Africa vs Netherlands
  66. 66. Building the right networks…
  67. 67. …requires institutionalizing locality
  68. 68. Slide courtesy of Professor Xianwen Wang – see https://doi.org/10.1108/AJIM-02-2018-0023
  69. 69. Privileging the local…
  70. 70. …provides the strength and confidence to effectively utilise the global
  71. 71. This process – of ever-widening, concentric circles – allows a drip-feed of stories to a wider audience, even as a specific heritage is both consolidated and enhanced. Scott (2015) Not so easy, Griffith Review, 47
  72. 72. @cameronneylon http://orcid.org/0000-0002-0068-716X On Think Tanks, Geneva, 6 February 2019 http://bit.ly/OTT-Neylon-Excellence

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