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Fashioning docile teacher bodies? The strange space of the ‘staff teaching seminar'

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For 40 years, the ‘staff teaching seminar’ has aimed to prepare academics to meet the complex demands of university teaching. In Aotearoa/New Zealand (NZ), as elsewhere, the seminar emerged in the late 1960s–early 1970s, and preceded centrally funded academic development (AD) centres. Targeting new academics, the programme typically focused on core activities of university teaching and blended presentations by experienced academics from various disciplines with group activities and plenary discussions. Several decades on, this pedagogical space is plainly recognisable as a core site of AD in NZ today. In order to problematise AD’s ambitions for this site and others like it, this essay refracts past and present versions through the prism of heterotopia. In so doing, we sound a warning about AD’s implication in the inexorable rise of governmentality in our institutions. We also, though, recognise the ways in which the staff teaching seminar eludes such forces.
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Keywords: Foucault; academic development; governmentality; heterotopia; university teaching

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Critical Studies in Education, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand. 2: Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.

Publication date: 2013-12-01

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