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Wednesday, 01 March 2017 - Friday, 31 March 2017

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Golden Hour Guest Lecture 'Academic Judgements'

Starts: Friday, 3 March 2017

Golden Hour Guest Lecture 'Academic Judgements' by Professor John Sullivan, Emeritus Professor (Christian Education)
Professor John Sullivan will deliver a special Lecture during the Faculty of Education Golden Hour on Friday 3rd March at 1pm - 2pm in EDEN 036 (Powys). All colleagues across the University are welcome to attend. Refreshments will be served from 12.45pm in the Garden Room.
Please RSVP to Michelle Pryor to confirm your attendance (


All academics have two things in common.  First, they find themselves and their work subject to judgement by a variety of other people: the students they teach, their immediate line managers and more senior university leaders, their disciplinary peers, and often other groups too, such as funding agencies, members of the public, publishers, journal editors, and external bodies for whom they provide expertise or consultancy.  Second, they are constantly having to make judgements on the work of others, for example, students, colleagues, and their scholarly peers in other universities.  The exercise of judgement is central to the daily life and work of an academic.  Such judgements are often a blend of the technical and the ethical, matters of competence, as well as elements of character.  Disciplinary knowledge may be the matrix for many of these judgements, but frequently judgements made by academics need to transcend disciplinary concerns and criteria and engage with a great variety of contexts, circumstances, and micro-political pressures; they have to respond to assessment regimes that are either devised internally or imposed externally, as well as take into account what is socially acceptable, morally desirable and congruent with their own sense of identity, integrity and authenticity.  Judgement acts as a bridge between contemplation and action, between detachment and responsibility and between possibility and actuality, in that it makes something happen.  As a result of academic judgements, essays and examinations get graded, dissertations recommended to be of such quality as to merit the writer being awarded a doctoral degree, faculty are appointed to a university department, professors receive tenure, research proposals receive funding.   

This paper puts academic judgements under the spotlight.  I attempt to understand some of the complexity inherent in engaging in acts of judgement and to open up such judgements to broader considerations, relating them not only to the attainment of reliable knowledge but also to the development of personhood.  There are three steps in the analysis, before I end by indicating further aspects of judgement that need attention.  First, I make some general comments about what we mean by judging and the importance of judgements in the context of working in a university.  Second, some features of judgement are laid out for inspection.  Third, several examples are provided of where academic judgements are called for; these include examining doctoral theses, refereeing articles submitted to journals or reporting to publishers on book proposals they have received from fellow academics, writing book reviews, contributing to decision-making about faculty selection and promotion, and writing references in support of candidates for such appointments. 

John Sullivan, Emeritus Professor (Christian Education), Liverpool Hope University and Visiting Professor (Theology and Education), Newman University.


Category: Lectures and Seminars
Date: Friday, 3 March 2017 - Friday, 3 March 2017
Time: 1pm
Venue : EDEN 036 (Powys)

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