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Durham University

Department of Sociology

Sociology Department Staff

Publication details for Professor Nicole Westmarland

Easteal, P. & Westmarland, N. (2010). A Virtual Sabbatical: A Pioneering Case Study. Innovative Higher Education 35(5): 297-311.

Author(s) from Durham


International exchange is an important aspect of academic life. Thus,
international sabbaticals are, in general, seen as a measure of research collaboration,
networking, and international standing. There are, however, a few groups who are likely to
be disadvantaged by such criteria even though they may be implicit, that is, those for whom
international travel is problematic. Using reflective learning, the researchers conducted a
virtual sabbatical for six months as a metaphorical “ramp”—that is, a way of making
international sabbaticals accessible to more people. We now present a case study of this
action research project, which answers the following questions. How does the concept of a
virtual sabbatical fit holistically within the context of higher education? How can the aims
of the sabbatical be fulfilled in a virtual context? What are the problems and successes of
the virtual sabbatical?