The past two years have forced educators globally to concentrate on the reconfiguration of our delivery and structures. As a result, we have often been obliged to look at academia in primarily practical ways. However, the higher education sector has never been exclusively concerned with the practicalities of delivery and has never existed in isolation. It brings in students from general education. It prepares them for a world of work and practice. In the process, it seeks to ‘transform’ them – opening students to the myriad of possibilities education is expected to bring.
Considered within this context, there a multitude of issues we need to consider. How we support entry level students? How we develop disciplinary knowledge and expertise without operating in silos? How we foster the critical self-reflection needed for lifelong learning? In a technologically fluid world, how do we keep up with changing media and practice? How do educators stay ‘connected’ with evolving student modes of learning and cultural expectations?
All this is connected to the ‘world outside’. The professionals we ‘produce’ will not only work with industry but will engage with communities. In the best of cases, they will transform them. How then, do we support the engagement and understanding of our students with the social issues and players they will engage with once they leave? In short, how are we contributing to the transformative experience of education?
The premise of this conference and its publications is that this is a useful moment for reflection. We are beginning to move beyond the pandemic and its focus on delivery. As such, we need to highlight once again a multifaceted consideration of what we do within the academy: how we teach, how students learn, and how we engage beyond its walls. In exploring this thesis, this conference welcomes papers focused on a range of related issues: skills building, creative exploration, personal development, critical thinking, external engagement, post education employment, and more.