(New York, USA) On March 2nd I shared my research into the Third Space academic – an emerging industrial work profile in Higher Education – at the 11th eLearning and Innovative Pedagogies conference at St John’s University in New York City. The presentation, while exploring similar territory to the HASS Futures event in September 2017, also canvassed a number of innovations in the structural delivery of Arts education. This included a closer examination of the industrial profile of the Third Space sector / the relationship between life-long-learning and micro-course credits / flexible cross-institutional degrees in a Melbourne context / and media production methodologies as an alternative form of assessment design in traditional research-focused HASS disciplines.
The Third Space:
Managing Disruption & building capacity in the arts
As technology disrupts the higher education landscape and legacy technologies constrict innovation and curtail flexibility (Morris 2013) how do we manage meaningful change in the Humanities and Social Sciences? What conversations do we need to have to create a stable and supportive environment that is mindful of traditional pedagogies while also being responsive to an increasingly fragmented future? This paper will argue that collaboration through dialogue and knowledge sharing is a key enabler for driving pedagogical change in the Arts. Further to this, for any initiative to be sustainable requires a considered teaching and learning design framework that transcends silos, budgets and disciplines. Enter, the ‘third space’.
As universities expand and ‘traditional’ academic career opportunities contract, third space academics – who serve not only scholarship but institutional priorities – are emergent. Third space academics are neither exclusively teaching-focussed nor research-orientated, yet they participate in intellectual communities and bring an academic skill base to bear on their provision of university services. (MacFarlane 2011) The third space has been defined as a space that exists between academic and professional roles and modulates both. (Whitchurch 2012) Commonly, such definitions refer to professional staff with minimal – if any – teaching experience and who are rarely research active. We argue that, to be effective and cognisant of teaching and learning pedagogies, third space academics need to operate fluidly and constructively across both territories.
In this paper, we will unpack the Curriculum Design Lab (CDL) model within the Faculty of Arts, to discuss possible future directions of third space academics working in HaSS programs more broadly. Drawing upon our convergent roles as internal curriculum consultants, hybrid technologists (Bali 2017) and facilitators of professional development, we will also examine the CDL model in the context of its intersection with other professional services and research initiatives that share similar aspirations for meaningful curriculum change.