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Durham University

Research & business

Research lectures, seminars and events

The events listed in this area are research seminars, workshops and lectures hosted by Durham University departments and research institutes. If you are not a member of the University, but  wish to enquire about attending one of the events please contact the organiser or host department.


Research Seminar: Surfacing ‘Southern’ perspectives on international higher education: doctoral theses as alternative forms of knowledge

6th November 2019, 13:00 to 14:00, NB. venue changed to ED130, Prof Catherine Montgomery, School of Education

The generation, spread and use of knowledge has embedded forms of inequalities and hierarchies. Connell notes that ‘a universal form of knowledge cannot be based on the experience of a privileged minority alone’ (2011, 1372) but it is still the case that some forms of knowledge are more valued than others. This seminar will present research which aims to surface some of the ways in which knowledge generated by doctoral theses can shed light on the ways in which a largely marginalised body of knowledge may provide different accounts, epistemologies and ontologies of specific aspects of education and the social sciences (Montgomery, 2019). Doctoral theses are generally not constructed as a coherent body of knowledge from which the academy can learn and this research casts doctoral theses as ‘Southern’ or marginalised knowledge (Connell, 2007; 2017), particularly since around half of UK doctoral students come from international contexts, often in the global South.

The seminar will draw on two research projects which involved systematic analyses of the digital repository EThOS, which is an online store of 500,000 doctoral theses completed in UK universities and curated by the British Library. The EThOS repository aims to provide a national record of all doctoral theses awarded by UK institutions and it is most often consulted by doctoral students themselves as a means of developing their own theses, or more rarely, quoted by academics beyond the students’ own supervisor (Johnson, Lee, & Green, 2000).

The two studies of the EThOS repository were focused on different lines of inquiry, the first exploring student engagement with internationalisation of global higher education (Montgomery, 2019) and the second interrogating ideas around rurality, ethnicity, higher education and access (Montgomery, forthcoming). Both studies sought to explore ‘the view-from-below’ as it emerged from the doctoral theses, focusing on doctoral students’ critical engagement with aspects of their own and other countries, thus providing insights into complex local contexts. In addition to enabling increased impact of the doctoral theses, this research aimed to highlight some of the hierarchies and inequalities inherent in the educational mobilities of globalised higher education.

The seminar will open a discussion of (and welcome feedback on) the two research projects and also the plans for the future development of the methodology and the future of the research itself.

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