TEDxLancasterU 2017 Conference, 13th May 2017

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I’m really excited to be giving a Tedx talk about my brothels in the community research at the TedxLancasterU Conference on 13th May – particularly as I have just found out that popcorn and pancakes are to be served!

You can find information about the speakers here.

My little speaker bio is below:

Emily studied for a BSc (Hons) in Geography at Lancaster University, and remained there to complete her PhD in Human Geography (awarded 2014). The PhD focused on the impacts of living in close proximity to brothels on residential communities in Blackpool.  She joined UCLan in 2016 as a Lecturer in Human Geography and a researcher for UCLan Policing.

Emily’s research centres on how sex, space and society interact, with a particular focus on sex work in recent studies.  She is also engaged in projects relating to female ex-offenders and young people at risk of involvement with serious and organised crime.

Sex work is considered to be a problematic feature of urban areas, largely generating fears around crime and disorder. However, robust and inclusive consultations with residential communities about the effects of sex work remain limited.

This talk will draw from conversations with local residents, authorities, and sex workers of Blackpool (UK) and will provide an insight into this under-researched area. Contrary to the assumption that crime and disorder are the only aspects that brothels bring to residential areas, brothels have several roles in Blackpool’s community. These include: economic contributions, heightening feelings of safety, and, quite simply, just being ‘ordinary neighbours’.

I believe these are live streamed (gulp!) and will also be available on YouTube after the event.  Hope to see some of you there!

#AAG2017 – (De)Stigmatising Sexscapes: Politics, Policy and Performance (Boston, USA)

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We (Paul Maginn and Erin Sanders-McDonagh) are pleased to announce our special session at this year’s AAG annual meeting, which is part of the Mainstreaming Human Rights in Geography and the AAG featured theme and also sponsored by the Sexuality and Space Specialty Group.  Please find below the session details and paper titles but I am also taking this opportunity to promote the fantastic new book by Erin: Women and Sex Tourism Landscapes (published by Routledge) which compares female tourists’ interactions in highly sexualised spaces in Thailand and the Netherlands.   Feel free to ask Erin about this during our sessions!

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1606.   (De)Stigmatising Sexscapes: Politics, Policy and Performance I: Porn, Pleasure & Performance (Sponsored by Sexuality and Space Specialty Group)
Room: Room 107, Hynes, Plaza Level  (Paper Session)

Wednesday April 5th, 4:40 pm – 6:20 pm


ORGANIZER(S): Paul J. Maginn, University of Western Australia; Emily Cooper, University of Central Lancashire; Erin Sanders-McDonagh, Middlesex University
CHAIR(S): Paul J. Maginn, University of Western Australia

4:40  Gemma Commane, Dr*, Birmingham City University, Kinktrepreneurship and social media: debates, rights and female subjectivity.
5:05  Joanne Bowring*, Liverpool John Moores University, Stigma in the UK Adult Film Industry.
5:30  Jennifer Heineman, PhD*, University of Nebraska at Omaha, Performing the Whore, Performing the Academic.
5:55  Emily Meyer, Esq.*, University of Cincinnati, The Cam Model: Kinship, Community, and Intimacy.

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2106.   (De)Stigmatising Sexscapes: Politics, Policy and Performance II: 2. Rights, Wrongs and Regulations (Sponsored by Sexuality and Space Specialty Group)
Room: Room 107, Hynes, Plaza Level  (Paper Session)

Thursday April 6th, 8:00 am – 9:40 am


ORGANIZER(S): Paul J. Maginn, University of Western Australia; Emily Cooper, University of Central Lancashire; Erin Sanders-McDonagh, Middlesex University
CHAIR(S): Emily Cooper, University of Central Lancashire

8:00  Laura Graham*, Durham University, The Home Affairs Select Committee Inquiry on Prostitution: Is the time ripe for a Human Rights based approach to sex work?
8:25  Emilia Ljungberg*, Karlstad University, The smiling face of the emotional state.
8:50  Elena Shih*, Brown University; Christine Shio Lim, Brown University; Jordan Rubin-McGregor, Brown University; Imani Herring, Brown University, Building a Movement Against Sex Work in Rhode Island: Anti-Trafficking and Academic Industrial Complexes.
9:15  Billie M Lister, Doctor*, Leeds Beckett University, Time for change? : Indoor sex workers experiences of working under quasi-criminalisation in England and Wales and their ideas for legislative change.

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2206.   (De)Stigmatising Sexscapes: Politics, Policy and Performance III: 3. Governance, Policing and Design (Sponsored by Sexuality and Space Specialty Group)
Room: Room 107, Hynes, Plaza Level  (Paper Session)

Thursday April 6th, 10:00 am – 11:40 am


ORGANIZER(S): Paul J. Maginn, University of Western Australia; Emily Cooper, University of Central Lancashire; Erin Sanders-McDonagh, Middlesex University
CHAIR(S): Gemma Commane, Birmingham City University

10:00  Nicole Kalms*, Monash University, Sex Shop / Pole Dance / Street Work: Heteronormative Architectures of the Neoliberal City.

10:25  Erin Sanders-McDonagh*, University of Kent, Pushing sex work to the margins: The sanitization of Red Light Districts in Amsterdam and London.

10:50  Paul J. Maginn*, University of Western Australia; Emily Cooper, University of Central Lancashire, On-street, Off-street, And Online: The Dynamic Liminalities Of Sex Work.

11:15  Alison Better*, Kingsborough Community College, CUNY, Constructing Space and Community for Sexual and Gender Exploration at Sex Toy Boutiques

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2406.   (De)Stigmatising Sexscapes: Politics, Policy and Performance IV: 4. Production, Consumption and Reflection (Sponsored by Sexuality and Space Specialty Group)
Room: Room 107, Hynes, Plaza Level  (Paper Session)


ORGANIZER(S): Paul J. Maginn, University of Western Australia; Emily Cooper, University of Central Lancashire; Erin Sanders-McDonagh, Middlesex University
CHAIR(S): Emily Cooper, University of Central Lancashire

Thursday April 6th, 1:20 pm – 3:00 pm

1:20  Yo-Hsin Yang*, Negotiating/resisting stigma of sexscapes: gay men’s sex moral performances on tour.

1:40  Victor Trofimov*, European University Viadrina, From commercial sex to homonormativity: changing landscape of male street sex work in Berlin.

2:00  Katharine Parker*, Northumbria University, Public Sex Environments in Contemporary Sexscapes: A Case Study from North East England.

2:20  Nick McGlynn*, University of Brighton, Too Fat, Too Thin, Just Right?: Stigmatised Bodies in Bear Spaces.

2:40  Philip Birch*, Western Sydney University, Prostitution and Procuring Sexual Services: Why men buy sex .

____________________________________________________________________________________________2506.   (De)Stigmatising Sexscapes: Politics, Policy and Performance V: 5. Mobilities, Immobilities and Boundaries (Sponsored by Sexuality and Space Specialty Group)
Room: Room 107, Hynes, Plaza Level  (Paper Session) 

Thursday April 6th, 3:20 pm – 5:00 pm


ORGANIZER(S): Paul J. Maginn, University of Western Australia; Emily Cooper, University of Central Lancashire; Erin Sanders-McDonagh, Middlesex University
CHAIR(S): Erin Sanders-McDonagh, Middlesex University

3:20  Rachel Wotton*, Sex workers who provide services to clients with disability.

3:45  Alison J. Lynch, J.D., M.A.*, Associate Instructor, Mental Disability Law and Policy Associates, Sexuality, Disability and the Law: Beyond the Last Frontier?

4:10  Bella Robinson*, CoyoteRI; Elena Shih, Brown University, Policing Modern Day Slavery: Sex Work and the Carceral State in Rhode Island.

4:35  Laura Connelly, Dr*, University of Salford, Caring for and controlling the subaltern body: Politics, policy and practice within a rescue industry.

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I will be hopefully writing up a blog post after the sessions as usual for those who cannot make it.  Please follow the hashtag #geosex17 and #aag2017 for live tweets!

UCLan Postgraduate Criminal Justice Seminar Series

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Calling all postgraduate students!

Beginning in the academic year 2016-2017, the Criminal Justice Partnership are starting a postgraduate criminal justice seminar series.  These events will provide a great opportunity for doctoral students to present their research in an informal setting to a varied audience (including School postgraduate students/colleagues, the wider University community and external guests) while also acting as a socialising and networking space.  The series is open to ALL students conducting research on, or of interest to, criminal justice, criminology and policing. The presentation formats and topics will vary and speakers are free to present at all stages of their research, covering any element of their research interests.  Suggestions for external speakers are always welcome and a timetable of events for the upcoming year will be produced.  Below are the details for event one:

Postgraduate Christmas Conference, Wednesday 7th December 1-4 p.m.

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Are you currently doing a PhD or Masters dissertation on topics within Criminal Justice, Criminology or Policing? Fancy an opportunity to present about your research, gain some valuable feedback, and network? Submit an abstract to the Postgraduate Christmas Conference!

Presentations will be 15 minutes long.  We will be joined by Prof. Stuart Kirby to do a closing chair discussion, and there will be opportunities to ask questions of your peers and share tales about the research process.

The event will be accompanied by mulled wine and appropriately-Christmassy cakes/nibbles, and we will head for a meal (optional) in the city after the event.  Students at ALL stages of their research are welcome to submit an abstract and the event is open to all.

Please submit an abstract (250 words maximum) to Emily Cooper (ecooper2@uclan.ac.uk) by Friday 11th November 2016

Bothered by a brothel? How sex work can improve your neighbourhood

Paul Maginn (@planographer) and I recently wrote this article in The Conversation – read the full version here – based on my doctoral research.  You can find more information about the project in this article: http://sex.sagepub.com/content/early/2016/05/27/1363460715616949.abstract

Bothered by a brothel? How sex work can improve your neighbourhood

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Dr Emily Cooper (University of Central Lancashire)
Assoc. Prof. Paul Maginn (University of Western Australia)

The sex industry, specifically sex work and prostitution, has long been perceived and regulated as a “dirty and disorderly” feature of residential communities. The stereotypical, and unfair, view of sex workers is that they are vectors of disease and social contagions; it’s a moral hangover from the Victorians.

Regardless of their legal status, wider society still tends to stigmatise those who provide commercial sexual services, with street-based sex workers often most the subject of public, political and police scrutiny. This is reflected in the regulation and marginalisation of sex work by local and national government policies to dark and secluded areas of cities.

This marginalisation and stigmatisation is because many people’s knowledge and understanding of sex work is generally limited and informed by moral panics and stereotypes – particularly surrounding issues such as STI rates and trafficking. While it is important to recognise that such problems may occur in sex work, it is also important to stress that these are not experienced by the majority of those engaged in consensual sex work and should certainly not be portrayed as being the most important factor in all sex worker narratives.

Nevertheless, local councils and police forces periodically engage in “clean-up” campaigns that seek to purge local areas of sex work. The police raids in Soho during December 2013, when around 200 police targeted dozens of premises, have been one of the most high-profile examples of this strategy.

Such raids are generally justified by the media and local authorities on the basis that locals, especially women and children, need to be protected from the harmful effects of “sleaze”.

Interestingly, however, there has been little detailed or systematic research on the impacts of sex work on residential communities. Generally speaking, local authority “clean-up” strategies tend to be based not on science, but on a small number of complaints from a vocal minority who assert particular moral agendas.

The evidence that sex work is a problematic issue is rather limited, but it is clear that sex workers themselves are not considered community members and are rarely consulted about their own concerns and needs. Sex workers are just ordinary people – someone’s mother, aunt, brother, friend – trying to make a living.

Research by Phil Hubbard and colleagues, Penny Crofts, Sarah Kingston, and Emily Cooper’s own work suggests that sex work contributes to residential communities in much more complex ways than is commonly portrayed in the media.

Sarah Kingston’s research on the impact of sex work on residential communities in Leeds highlights that the presence of sex workers can actually generate positive outcomes. For example, they (and associated clients, etc) provide passive surveillance against criminal activities and will report crimes. In addition, sex workers and their clients also contribute to local economies via the renting of premises, booking hotel rooms and spending money in local shops, bars and restaurants.

The Blackpool community

Cooper’s research on massage parlours and surrounding residential communities in Blackpool, reinforces these findings. 53 in-depth interviews were conducted (often more than once) with local residents, as well as a number of sex workers, police officers and council officers. Observations were also made over an 18-month period.

Those parlours surrounded by other non-sex work businesses and residences were often referred to by nearby non-sex work business workers as a means of breaking the ice and building rapport with customers, because of questions asked about the parlours being there. Reputedly, for some residents, the parlours also brightened up the mundane routine of peoples’ daily social and work lives. This was also reinforced in Kingston’s findings.

More crucially, some residents highlighted that the parlours – and their 24-hour vibrantly neon-lit presence – engendered a feeling of security in an area that is commonly frequented by “either nobody or large groups of stag parties, which can be a bit intimidating” (quote from resident).

Such views dismantle the common narrative, which suggests that the sex industry is something that attracts criminality rather than a feeling of security.

The Blackpool Gazette often uses “dirt and disgust” rhetoric to characterise the impact of massage parlours and the subsequent “clean-up” campaigns by regulatory bodies. Despite this, plus the ongoing effects of the recent recession, the massage parlours have shown resilience and remain an integral part of the social and economic fabric of Blackpool.

The stigma and stereotyping that tends to surround sex workers (and their clients) has the effect of alienating them and diminishing their sense of safety when working.

Very few residents in the study explicitly stated that they would like to see the sex industry removed. Those that did so were coming from either a stereotypical view of sex work as being inherently harmful or criminal, or from a desire to protect sex workers, who they considered friends and neighbours, from “dodgy clients”. Many residents discussed spending time with sex workers, as they would with any other neighbour.

Despite the fact that several sex workers in my study area lived locally, the long-established presence of massage parlours in Blackpool, and the friendly relationships between sex workers and wider community members, sex workers were still excluded from certain community spaces.

One sex worker, for example, noted that although she had a good relationship with residents adjacent to her place of work, she and another worker were asked to leave a Police and Community Together meeting by other residents because the meeting was “partly about them”.

Moving forward

Such exclusionary actions merely serve to reinforce the stigma imposed on sex workers and deny them their basic democratic rights. Community-based policy and consultation processes need to be more inclusive and appreciative of the fact that sex workers are as much a part of the local community as the next person. Their presence in and near residential communities needs to be viewed through a wider lens based on evidence, rather than a narrow moral one under the control of a vocal minority.

Emerging research suggests that the role and impact of sex work on local areas is more multi-faceted and less extraordinary than is commonly portrayed in the media or television dramas. The urban mythology and regulatory fetish surrounding sex work needs to be dispelled.

A more productive policy approach to regulating commercial sex premises would be to treat them like any other business. Ultimately, sex work should be decriminalised as this regulatory approach offers what other approaches don’t – it guarantees the greater safety, health and well-being of sex workers.


 

Academic Interviews: #2 and #3

@planographer

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Picture from https://www.pinterest.com/gbmcd/funny-interviewjob/

So I’m a few months into my new(ish) job, which I started at the end of April this year.  Recently, a few of my friends have been applying for academic positions and we’ve been having some great chats about the interview process, so I thought I would add to this post https://ecooper2site.wordpress.com/2015/02/21/my-first-academic-interview/ and talk about my more recent interviews.  That blog post also contains some links to some good blogs/websites I found useful for tips, so give it a look!   Warning: this will be a long post!

So far, my career pathway has consisted of the following:

  1. Graduate teaching assistant in Human Geography at Lancaster University (2009-Feb 2014)
  2. Researcher at Ascentis (May 2014 – December 2014, done alongside my PhD/teaching)
  3. Senior Teaching Associate in Human Geography at Lancaster University (Feb 2014-January 2015)
  4. Lecturer in Human Geography at Northumbria University (January 2015-April 2016) (this is the interview that the above blog post is talking about)
  5. Lecturer in Human Geography at UCLan  (April 2016-present)

Whilst in my position at Northumbria, I also underwent an interview for the permanent version of that role, so I will discuss this process first.

 

Interview #2: applying for the position you are already doing

This was a really strange experience for me, as you a) feel a wally for having to stand up in front of colleagues who already know you and try and promote your achievements, and b) you don’t quite know how much to push the detail, as the panel (in my case anyway) generally have a really good idea already of what you do.  I decided to go for it and pretend I was still a new colleague.  The danger of not doing so means you potentially lose the enthusiasm and the examples, which definitely matter in setting yourself apart from other candidates. My presentation task was exactly the same format as in the blog post above (15 minutes on ‘my research and teaching contributions to Geography at Northumbria’), with the odd obvious tweaks to also show what I had already done/made changes to regarding teaching content and research culture – and what I intended to do for the next year.  Here is an example of how I adapted the teaching slide:

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This all went well (so I was told!) and some of the questions from the audience (of about 10 colleagues) were:

  • Aside from UK-based research councils, what other sources of funding can you target with your research? Would bigger players, such as EU money, be a possibility? My answer was yes, perhaps a little later in my career, but that the topics I research – such as sex work – are important for a variety of disciplines and therefore research funding is possible from health, legal, social and humanities perspectives/pots
  • Would you be wanting to investigate issues such as human trafficking in your research? My answer discussed briefly the need to debunk the common assumption that sex work = trafficking, and so it is implicitly part of my research at the moment, but not a key direction for the immediate future
  • What are the policing tactics in Blackpool regarding the brothels – how much do they intervene? I outlined this briefly, but *shameless plug alert* see my new paper for more details: http://sex.sagepub.com/content/early/2016/05/27/1363460715616949)

 

A panel interview then followed, which lasted around 30 minutes.  Preparation for this part of the interview had largely been writing lists of everything I had achieved so far in the department, including:

  1. a) research advances (writing up papers from my thesis; getting involved in the research group in the department; building networks inter and intra-faculty – with specific named examples)
  2. b) teaching achievements (introducing peer reading groups; making slight changes to module assessment; introducing a student Twitter competition; being nominated for ‘best lecturer’ from the student-led teaching awards.  Again, it is important to justify the changes, to show you are a reflective teacher)
  3. c) additional roles undertaken (e.g. I was ethics rep for the department; started a Twitter account in order to promote research/teaching activities; took part in open days)
  4. d) how I had developed as an academic (what skills have advanced; what would I like to improve on, e.g. PhD supervisor training)

Here were some of the questions asked (I won’t put my answers for all of them):

  • Why do you want the job; to continue your career here? I gave 3 reasons – one, outlining how I felt I had carved my own place in the department, but had still slotted into the research and teaching roles effectively (I gave a couple of examples about why I felt I had done so quickly); two, I briefly discussed the networks I had built for possible research collaboration and a little about the projects I had in mind with such colleagues; three, a personal reason
  • What is unique about you – why should we give you the job? This was probably the most tricky question for me, as I didn’t want to come across as arrogant.  I discussed the social media presence I had built and the new ways I had tried to get students to engage with the department and module content (e.g. a Twitter competition, with a prize for the best tweet about the fieldtrip module content); and my push for more independent learning skills being built into the programme.  I also discussed my additional roles (that I had voluntarily worked open days, and taken on admin roles such as ethics rep etc).
  • What would you say your best paper is/the paper you are most proud of? I changed my answer from when they asked me this last time, to discuss a new paper I was working on
  • Could you tell us about your next journal article submissions – why these have been targeted? In the end, the journals I was planning for submission were not deemed high quality enough for me to secure the permanent contract, according to the measures they were looking at – the Web of Science journal citation list – so be wary of this
  • What key issues does your research speak to, or your future research? Think about discipline-specific issues, plus wider relevance, and show that you have done your homework on potential impact at a variety of scales (give examples of how your work has begun to tackle said issues, or has the potential to – and why)
  • Where would you target funding applications for the projects you are currently planning (and why)?
  • Can you give an example of your proudest achievement from your teaching experience? What have you contributed so far?
  • What skills have you developed as an academic while working here? I was *very* stumped on this at first, so think about it! I think I discussed the ability for me to know what a journal expected regarding publication, now that I had been through the process once

 

Interview #3: Applying for a lectureship as an external candidate

The application process was again very similar to the outline in my first blog, with a cover letter (included in ‘supporting information’) of a very traditional academic application form, which just asked for CV information, and no additional statements.  If anybody would like to see a copy of my cover letter, please do ask!  When offered an interview (another victory dance ensued!!), the letter stated that the format would be:

–          A 5 minute (this was SO difficult!) presentation on your research as if part of a lecture for first-year geography students

–          A panel interview

–          A final interview with the Executive Dean at the end of the day

The presentation

After some assistance from a colleague (the fab @planographer) – and do see if you can get some peer feedback wherever possible! – the 5-minute presentation format was as follows:

Slide 1.  I introduced myself, and explained that the point of the presentation was to discuss my research interests and projects to date. I also said that: ‘But another key take-home message is the diversity of geography as a subject to study and its ability to understand and tackle a variety of social issues’

Slide 2 – I then presented my research interests around these three said issues.  Here is the slide:

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The rationale for the set-up here was that the power of 3 is difficult to beat, especially for first-years, and that I situated myself as a social geographer; predominantly interested in the connections between society, and space and place.  I then explained how my research slots into these 3 themes and then gave a very quick summary of my findings (slide 3), with some photos and a slide (4) on ‘what’s next’ (keeping this to two boxes – and taking care to relate this back to why geography is a great subject to study).  Again, if anybody would like to see the full thing then please just ask.  I was only asked questions from the audience about the research itself, relating to how many parlours there are in Blackpool, and policing strategies.

 

The panel interview

This included the associate head of school, the head of geography, a lecturer from a different school and a HR representative.  Here are as many of the questions (and answers!) that I can remember:

  • Why do you want the job? (a commonality across all 3 – so prepare this one well!) – again, I gave 3 reasons.  Always name particular research clusters/people you want to work with, identify modules you can contribute to, and I also included reference to how I really felt the ethos of the University spoke to my personal feelings regarding academia and education – such as being committed to widening participation at University (e.g. foundation courses are offered).  Another key thing to not forget is that they want to know what *you* can do for/bring to them, as well as what *they* can do for you (this will certainly be important in later questions).
  • Why should we give you the job/what makes you stand out from the room full of candidates out there in the next room?  I think I gave three reasons again here – one, that I felt that my research complemented several research clusters and would connect geography more readily with other UCLan researchers, both in its own Faculty and outside of it (and how/why this was necessary). I initially just mentioned the research clusters, but they prompted me to give more specific examples.  As part of my preparation, I had already identified 2 individuals who had interests in sex work and community dynamics – so I discussed research projects that had been previously done at UCLan and how my work would be relevant to them/contribute to them. Secondly, I discussed my social media focus, and how I had noticed that the department didn’t have a strong web presence in this regard – and what I had done at my previous institution to improve theirs. Thirdly, I mentioned my past work experience – my CV includes several roles in University administration and I said that I therefore had a good understanding of how Universities work operationally, plus was very aware of the importance of excellent teamwork across the various administrative and academic teams.  This also sent the message that I had juggled several different roles while completing my PhD; something definitely worth mentioning if you have also done so (voluntarily or paid).
  • How is your research impactful? I made sure that I discussed both the local context here – i.e. my doctoral research uncovered some intricate detail about relationships between various agents in the community, and how these relationships could be improved; and the issues with localised regulation of sex work and what can be done to address these) and the national/international context (i.e. contributions to sex work regulation; theorisation of community dynamics more broadly). Looking back, I should have mentioned the ways in which this impact should/could be disseminated going forward (e.g. I am now considering training events, and finding ways of incorporating better quality outreach services to existing organisations)
  • What will it bring to the Faculty/what projects are you working on?  Here, I returned briefly to the previous projects conducted at UCLan, and mentioned my next steps for research (plus what funding I intended to go for, and why).
  • Where do you see yourself in 10 years (this then got changed to 5 after my initial answer)? What contributions do you want to have made in your field? I always struggle with such questions – and I found myself blurting out that being in a temporary contract made it very difficult for me to think as far ahead as 10 years (this is when they switched it to 5!).  What this did do, however, was make me feel like I had made a bit of a personal connection with the panel (or more of one).  So when this got changed to 5, I discussed how I did not think about what I want for the future in job titles (e.g. ‘I want to be a Reader by the time I am …’).

1) I said that I wanted to have a paper out (or at least in press!) in Progress in Human Geography.

2) I hoped that I would be nearing completion of my next big post-doctorate project (I reiterated the details briefly of what project this would be)

3) I hoped that I was continually inspired by academia and the value of geography as a subject– so my final goal was to have carved my place at UCLan as a respected teacher, and to have seen off 5 rounds of happy, enthusiastic and successful geography students.  A little cheesy, but genuine!

  • What stage are you at with writing up publications from your thesis?  Bear in mind the panel often has your CV in front of them, so make sure you know what dates you have put down as predicted submission!! This was a straight forward question – but one paper had been delayed since submission of my application and so I was also honest about the reason.
  • You had a lot of teaching experience at your previous places of employment seemingly, with some considerable responsibility – how did you find managing the teaching load? This was a fairly generic managing workload question, so I mentioned my strategies for doing so, including: lots of colour-coded lists with deadlines on them, ensuring good working relationships with GTAs and the rest of the academic staff by having regular meetings and making use of the VLE, and setting myself small goals on a daily basis.  Anything novel for managing deadlines/workload is worth a mention – especially if it enables a bit of humour!  I love stationery shopping and so I’m sure I mentioned this obsession.
  • What teaching content would you introduce here? Always go prepared with material you could potentially contribute to what already exists – and what new module content/modules you would introduce and why.  Remember, key things on the minds of departments are employability and research-led teaching!
  • What do you do to make your classes interesting? I discussed my in-class quiz questions, my strategy of ten-minute intervals (i.e. every 10 minutes, I switch the tone of a lecture, ranging from me talking, to them thinking about a question, to having a two minute break, to getting them to work on something in pairs etc), and including guest speakers/little snippets of research stories.  I also said my general teaching ethos is do ‘anything to make the material relatable’ (which has involved me, rather embarrassingly, dressing up as an example!)
  • How do you incorporate research-led teaching into your modules/sessions? I always make a point of including research examples from staff in-house in my teaching, as well as my own, and I invite guest speakers working on key research projects.
  • What sort of support do you feel you would need from HR/the University in order to succeed in your academic roles? Rather a personal question, but I said that I would appreciate guidance on applying for research grants as I haven’t been a PI on a post-doc project yet.  I also mentioned that I would want some training on being a PhD supervisor.

Finally, the interview with the executive dean was largely, I was told afterwards, to clarify the research plans I had and to see if I was somebody that would fit into the Faculty/department.  I’m happy to say I got the job!

 

Tricky Trickster Questions

As an additional contribution to the bank of potential interview questions above, I did a bit of a social media survey on ‘what is the trickiest question you have been asked at interview?’ from my colleagues.  Here were their responses:

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Another response to my call was: ‘I asked a question to stump the panel’ – this candidate had done some homework on a relevant new government circular, and they asked what the panel thought this might mean for the area (the panel hadn’t heard of it!).

Many thanks to all who contributed! I hope this post has been helpful rather than terrifying for potential candidates, and do ask me for any additional clarification 🙂

Here’s hoping I’ll be seeing lots of victory dances from successful candidates in the near future!

 

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Gif from http://giphy.com/gifs/dance-fresh-prince-of-bel-air-IJBIpMtVD7yla

‘Being an Early Career Feminist Academic: Global perspectives, experiences and challenges’. New edited collection (Palgrave MacMillan)

I’m very excited to announce the impending publication of this fantastic edited collection, put together by Dr Rachel Thwaites (@REThwaites) and Dr Amy Pressland (@a_pressland).  Here is a description of the content taken from Palgrave’s website:

‘This book highlights the experiences of feminist early career researchers and teachers from an international perspective in an increasingly neoliberal academy. It offers a new angle on a significant and increasingly important discussion on the ethos of higher education and the sector’s place in society. Higher education is fast-changing, increasingly market-driven, and precarious. In this context entering the academy as an early career academic presents both challenges and opportunities. Early career academics frequently face the prospect of working on fixed term contracts, with little security and no certain prospect of advancement, while constantly looking for the next role. Being a feminist academic adds a further layer of complexity: the ethos of the marketising university where students are increasingly viewed as ‘customers’ may sit uneasily with a politics of equality for all. Feminist values and practice can provide a means of working through the challenges, but may also bring complications’.

Dr Anna Tarrant (@dratarrant) and I contributed a chapter to the collection, entitled: Exposing the ‘Hidden Injuries’ of Feminist Early Career Researchers: An Experiential Think Piece about Maintaining Feminist Identities.  Our chapter covers some of the difficulties we have faced as early career feminist academics in the current academic climate, and how we have collectively found positive ways to navigate though these and ‘heal’.  We are among great company – the contributions are fantastic.  Find out more details here: http://www.palgrave.com/gb/book/9781137543240#aboutBook. The flyer with all of the chapter information is also attached below.

Being an Early Career Feminist Academic flyer (1)

Many thanks to Rachel and Amy for being such supportive editors!

 

 

 

 

 

Call for Interest: UCLan Collective Writing Events

 

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Calling all PhD students and early career researchers/lecturers!  Fancy taking part in some collective writing activities?  Are you wanting to finally finish *that* PhD chapter, get an article sent off, work on a job application, finish preparing a seminar presentation – or simply fancy sharing tips, successes or woes with peers?

My name is Emily and I am a recently appointed Lecturer in Human Geography at UCLan.  As a part-time PhD student (and now as an early career lecturer) I found collective writing days/retreats really therapeutic and productive, and they were very popular at my previous institutions.  These events can take several forms, with the main ones being:

  • Short ‘#shutupandwrite’ sessions (ranging from an hour, to a full morning or afternoon) involving blocks of quiet writing, with scheduled breaks for refreshments and sharing progress (check out @suwtuk, #acwri, #suwt and #diysuwt for where the idea came from, Twitter users!)
  • Writing retreats, with an ‘away day’ feel,  so a close-by external venue will be booked (likely a full day, or multiple days – perfect for summer!)
  • Seminar-based activities, where somebody shares a piece of work they are currently amending (or have a finished draft of) for constructive and supportive feedback from the group.  This has proven invaluable for me in the past – my first publication definitely wouldn’t have got through the review process so quickly without one of these sessions, and I got some really helpful job advice on another occasion too
  • There is also a possibility, should this be something that takes off well here, of starting an early career/phd student seminar series for presentations on research and general tips on early career academic life.  But I’ll see what happens.

All of the above usually involve cake, caffeine, possibly alcohol, and potentially all of these, during and after the events.  All are welcome!

We have an email list going of everybody interested in being kept in the loop about events such as the above.  So, the first thing to do is to let me know if you want to be added to the list!  Please include your email address, department/school and job title/student status.   You can also join the Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/146518089103589/.  Any volunteers for co-running the more comprehensive sessions would also be greatly appreciated.  We meet around once per month, but sometimes more!

Feel free to contact me and get a bit more information about the above before committing to the email list if you would like to.  You can also contact me more informally via my Twitter account (apologies in advance for all of the cat tweets…) @liminographer.  Even if you don’t want to participate in the above, but fancy meeting up for a coffee or a drink with a fellow ECR, then please do get in touch!

Happy writing!

Email: ecooper2@uclan.ac.uk