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David Mills and Julia Paulson

Recent research on doctoral education in the U.K. has revealed the increasing number and diversity of academic relationships that shape the lives of research students, and students' own role in activating, mobilising and maintaining these relationships. Higher education policy reforms promoting doctoral 'skills training', interdisciplinary communities, thematic centres and supervisory teams, all create new networks for students to negotiate. Often beneficial and supportive, this article explores the 'unmentionable' consequences of relationships that gradually go awry.

This study began as a project exploring the everyday experiences of doctoral students and early career researchers in the Social Sciences within the U.K. As the research unfolded, we began to encounter accounts of neglect, exploitation and denigration. While such stories have long been part of postgraduate life, their seeming persistence in the face of robust quality assurance and supervisory codes needs further exploration. We offer three portraits of difficult doctoral journeys to explore these 'unmentionable' experiences and explore whether they are linked to growing institutional and career pressures on academics to prioritise research 'productivity'.

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Ellen Bal, Erella Grassiani, and Kate Kirk

This article is based on our own experiences and that of several of our colleagues teaching social and cultural anthropology in different Dutch institutions for higher learning. We focus in particular on teaching and learning in two small liberal arts and science (LAS) colleges, where anthropology makes up part of the social science curriculum and/or is part of the core curriculum. The data collected from our own critical reflections developed during informal discussion and from formal interviews with colleagues, together with literature on recent changes in academia, leads us to argue that neoliberal individualism, shaped by management tactics that constantly measure individual performance and output, is making academia an increasingly insecure place in which to work and study. The consequences of this insecurity include increasing mental health problems among both students and staff, intensifying competition at the expense of collegiality and collaboration and an overall decrease in the quality of academic jobs and teaching. Although the discipline of anthropology can help us better understand our own conditions, the personalisation of problems and the focus on success obscure the anthropological lens, which looks at social and cultural structures of power and depends on critical reflexivity.

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Jakob Krause-Jensen and Christina Garsten

Over the past decades, higher education has been profoundly restructured across the world. With remarkable consistency educational reforms have been put forward that rest on a particular and similar rationale: to achieve global competitiveness and adapt to the advent of the so-called ‘knowledge economy’. The ramifications for universities have been dramatic: institutions have changed, roles of students and university employees have been re-defined and the concept of knowledge itself altered.

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Paulina Mihailova

The article investigates how university lecturers taking part in the compulsory teacher training at Stockholm University (SU) conceive of the effects of standardised and formalised training on their teaching. The study explores the emotions and responses evoked among academics when everyone is required to embrace the same pedagogic philosophy of constructive alignment (Biggs 2003), adopt the language of learning outcomes and assign the same standards to diverse academic practices. The article attempts to shed light on different conceptions of the quality of teaching and learning in higher education and the interplay between the lecturers' values of academic freedom, collegiality and disciplinary expertise and the university leadership's values of efficiency, accountability and measurability of performance. The article considers how these conceptions coexist and are negotiated within the university as an organisation.

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Jeroen Huisman and Alan Scott

Joyce E. Canaan and Wesley Shumar (2008) Structure and Agency in the Neoliberal University

Review by Jeroen Huisman

Roger Brown with Helen Carasso (2013) Everything for Sale? The Marketization of UK Higher Education

Review by Alan Scott

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Penny Welch and Susan Wright

Welcome to this issue of Learning and Teaching: The International Journal of Higher Education in the Social Sciences.

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Patricia G. Boyer, Lorna Holtman, Carole H. Murphy, and Beverley Thaver

The downturn of the global economy requires universities worldwide to do more with fewer resources. These conditions have presented an opportunity for two universities, the University of the Western Cape and the University of Missouri-St. Louis, to collaborate on a research course offered to postgraduate students. The purpose of this article is to outline the overall administration, management and structure of an innovative research programme between two countries. The aim is also to share the experiences and challenges of this research partnership, to explain how the parties involved navigated policies, to demonstrate what expertise the two educational institutions gained from the collaboration and to recount the benefits received by students and faculty from working internationally.

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Kevin Carrico

How can we as educators address complex and controversial topics in the social sciences without encouraging simplistic responses and self-reproducing binary oppositions? Drawing upon an ethnographic analysis of a first-year writing seminar on the history of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, this article proposes novel approaches to overcome instinctive reactions to contentious topics. Arguing that the experience of controversy produces self-reinforcing binary oppositions that become autopoetically abstracted from the actual topic of discussion, I build upon specific seminar experiences to propose two novel and practical concepts for the pedagogy of controversy: (1) deidentification, which refers to a process of disengagement from the binaries and thus identities that structure and reproduce controversy, and (2) humanisation, which refers to a process of moving beyond abstractions to reidentify with the fundamentally human experience of contentious historical moments. The pedagogy of controversy, I argue, must teach against our conventional identificatory responses to controversy to promote a more nuanced understanding of inherently complex issues.

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Laura Spielvogel and Christian Spielvogel

In this report, we introduce our digital e-textbook web platform with an integrated role-playing game, which has been created for 'introduction to anthropology' courses. We believe that textbooks have the potential to do more to motivate students' pursuit of learning if their material (topically organised chapters supported by leading theories, concepts and ideas in a discipline) is tied to an engaging role-playing narrative whereby students can access, analyse, critique and apply information as characters in a simulation. Thus, we have created a two-sided platform that allows students to flip between a macro context and a role-playing simulation. The macro context explores the challenges and rewards of fieldwork, the politics surrounding ethnographic representation and the contested theories of culture. These issues are typically covered in a print-based anthropology textbook but here they have additional digital features. These topics are then applied in a role-playing simulation, Marriage of Cultures, that allows each student anonymously to play a character in a three to four week, open-ended narrative structured around the imaginary wedding of a Japanese bride and her Italian-American groom.

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Stephen M. Lyon, Yasar Abu Ghosh, Pavel Himl, Tereza Stöckelová, Lucie Storchová, Robert Gibb, Jakob Krause-Jensen, and Veerendra P. Lele

The choice of interdisciplinarities

Stephen M. Lyon

Multidisciplinarity as a necessity and challenge: the Department of General Anthropology, Faculty of Humanities, Charles University in Prague (FHS UK)

Yasar Abu Ghosh, Pavel Himl, Tereza Stöckelová and Lucie Storchová

Response to Sluis and Edwards, 'Rethinking combined departments'

Robert Gibb

Response to Sluis and Edwards, 'Rethinking combined departments'

Jakob Krause-Jensen

Response to Sluis and Edwards, 'Rethinking combined departments'

Veerendra P. Lele

Response from the authors, Ageeth Sluis and Elise Edwards