Victoria Robinson, Professor of Sociology and Director of the Centre for Women’s Studies, University of York, has guest edited a special issue of Discover Society. She argues;
More than ever, we need to talk about the continuing, and frankly, not very helpful demarcation between the academy and the ‘real world’. The current UK higher education impact agenda is framed so that academics are increasingly asked (required even) to work with ‘external partners’ and to foster knowledge exchange across this assumed spacial and intellectual chasm. Theorists consistently define their work in terms of how their ideas have ‘real life’ implications. They make efforts to demystify the ‘ivory tower’ and allow greater access for previously marginalised groups outside of it. Government rhetoric demands that higher education provides students with transferable skills to equip them for work in ‘everyday life’.
But, in breath-taking changing social, economic and political times a failure to re-examine the linguistic premise of this terminology, and the terms in which the resulting dialogue takes place, can unwittingly maintain these barriers and not break them down. Not that these impact intentions do not have merit, or indeed, have not had meaningful consequences at local and national levels. However, looking at Women’s and Gender Studies in historical, contemporary and global contexts serves as a reminder that these fields have always strived, and still do, to problematise the relationship of the academy to the evolving and shifting world ‘outside’.
This special edition focuses on these issues and in sum, the articles here are conceptually and empirically focused on the structural manifestations of questions around knowledge and activism, in the academy and beyond.
With articles on the outsourcing of domestic work, a look back at the history of the women’s liberation movement and exploring feminist teaching amongst many other pieces that are culturally relevant and engaging, this special edition is a fantastic read and we wanted to take the opportunity to share it with the GEA audience.