Politically engaged geographical research with the community sector: is it encouraged by Australia’s higher education and research institutions?
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With the application of neoliberal thinking to the higher education sector, measures of research quality and utility have proliferated in efforts to increase academic accountability, innovation, and contributions to public policy.We intend to reignite discussion about community activism and the role of the academic in response to trends in higher education policy and recent debate in Australia about research quality assessment and policy relevance. We challenge the common portrayal of the public sector as the sole locus of policy-making and argue the case for greater recognition of the role of the community sector and its research partners in policy development and implementation - one that is not given due attention in the discourse on or in measures of research value and impact. Informed by recent literature on governance and interpretative approaches to policy analysis, we draw on our combined experience conducting research with two Australian movements at the forefront of reforms to property rights institutions, legal standards, and norms relating to social and economic equity to outline the institutional tensions and structural impediments facing researchers working with the non-government sector. The paper documents the progressive roles the academic can play in such work, arguing that institutional change is required within the tertiary sector to support researchers to build closer, more trusting research partnerships in which due attention is given to social impact and relevance
Copyright 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Politically Engaged Geographical Research with the Community Sector: Is It Encouraged by Australia's Higher Education and Research Institutions?, Geographical Research, Volume 52, Issue 2, May 2014, Pages 146–156 which has been published in final form at http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1745-5871.12057. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving (http://olabout.wiley.com/WileyCDA/Section/id-828039.html)
Human Geography not elsewhere classified