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The Baltic Sessions

27th May 2022

Professor David Jones from Newcastle Business School discusses The Baltic Sessions – a distinctive series of international events covering research, broader scholarship, impact and collaboration - bringing together academics from different universities and disciplines, with engagement from world leading scholars.

David Jones

The Baltic Sessions represent a distinctive research/scholarship development series of events, set-up and run for the past 3 years by myself as a professor in the Leadership and Human Resource Management (LHRM) department at Northumbria's Newcastle Business School.

The ensuing impact on the international reputation and research standing of the department, faculty and University has increasingly been highlighted by colleagues in the U.K. and abroad. As my research focuses on critical university futures, I am keenly aware of the challenges and opportunities facing academics. This is why I chose an overarching theme of a love of research/scholarship (for those of us whose academic roots are more pedagogically orientated) to act as a steer to the sessions.  As in any notion of mature love, the sessions are inspired by the significance of the sharing confessional tales around vulnerability, collective and personal care.

As this contrasts with the blinded, ambiguous pursuit of some Other’s view of what constitutes excellence, with all its audited legion of disconnected metrics, it is an opportunity to come together to form our collective conversation and generative view of our entangled excellent and vulnerable future. The Baltic Sessions thereby hopes to offer what other universities quite frankly do not offer - research development is normally focused on centralized, instrumental offerings around writing, publishing and bidding around disciplinary specialisms or a generic offering. This offers something quite different (and complementary) - an opportunity to build a research environment, to meet and engage with world leading scholars without borders, with an aim to enrich scholarship through collegiality and interdisciplinary - crucial if we wish to answer the question of why we are academics in the first place and to tackle crucial issues of our role and impact in global citizenship (particularly pertinent at the present time!!).

The Baltic Sessions have expanded in terms of audience - whilst initially just faculty wide, they have grown regionally, nationally and increasingly internationally (to include major universities in countries such as the US, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, France, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Israel, UAE, Sweden, Denmark and Norway). Many of the world's leading academics who have something to say about individual and organizational futures in HE and beyond have presented such as Mats Alvesson, David Knights, Mark Learmonth, Paul Hibbert, Martin Parker, Gibson Burrell, Steffen Boehm, Chris Grey, Sarah Robinson, Dennis Tourish, Roy Suddaby and Stewart Clegg. As a testament to the growing success of the sessions, many of these speakers are now attending as audience members, which is really encouraging.

The sessions speak to a wide audience as they focus on the critical future of universities, the management discipline and navigating alternative academic careers that make a difference individually, institutionally and societally. Space, place, temporality, identity, power, equality, time, embodiment are entangled within this conversation.

The Baltic Sessions are currently run virtually, mainly due to the legacy of the pandemic and the international coverage it offers. However, the future of these sessions will be a combination of virtual (to grow this international audience) and face to face modes (to embed more longer term relationships and to stay true to the initial spatial ethos of the sessions). In fact recalling the roots of why I named them the Baltic Sessions, I initially set up and organized them at the Baltic Contemporary Arts Centre in Newcastle, looking over the Tyne River, to embody the spirit of interdisciplinarity, above and beyond specific research specialisms and groups and encourage collegiality (with a leveling ethos) in an informal, non-judgmental, counter performative meeting space. They have an intent to move beyond collegial rhetoric and aspiration towards a more processual meeting space for generative ideas and agency at all levels.

Future events:

Professor Jean Bartunek (Boston College), Professor Nic Beech (Middlesex University), Professor Katy Mason (Lancaster University) and Professor Robert MacIntosh (Northumbria University) - 14.00 (U.K. time) 29th June.

 

Previous events:

Professor Jean Mills and Professor Albert Mills- St Mary’s University, Nova Scotia - 14.00 (U.K. time) 30th March

Professor Andrew Hoffman - Michigan University, USA - 13.00 (U.K. time) 13th April.

Professor Kathy Lund Dean - Gustavus Adolphus College, Minnesota, USA - 13.00 (U.K. time) May 4th

 

There will be more sessions to look out for in the future, and in the longer term there are plans to further embed and engage the international academic community more directly.

Everyone welcome - PGR students, early career, senior academics, managers and administrators. It is even applicable for those who have fallen out of love with academia.

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