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May 10th, 2021 3:00 PM through  5:00 PM
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This webinar series, organised by the SRHE Postgraduate Issues Network, and in conjunction with the Philosophy and Theory of Higher Education Society, focuses on the evolving impact and implications of the coronavirus pandemic on researcher education and the doctorate by means of theoretical reflections and with a view to practical courses of action, for the medium and into the long term.  The series follows on and draws from the PaTHES led webinar in November 2020, Revitalising doctoral education – beyond global trauma.  With provocations from four internationally acclaimed keynote speakers (recording of the presentations is on the PaTHES website), the 2020 webinar explored and set the scene regarding the challenges, possibilities and prospects for hope regarding the prosperity of researcher education. 

The pandemic lands on us all and affects ‘normal’ operations, initially through organisation and management, then having implications for curriculum and for teaching and learning (to utilise Harold Silver’s 1998 typology of innovations in higher education). Mindful of the ‘message systems’ of curriculum, pedagogy and evaluation (i.e. assessment) with respect to the classification and framing of educational knowledge (Bernstein 1971), this 2021 series follows on by asking not what is the point of a doctorate now but what could be the point of a new form of doctorate, that embraces the need for creativity, inclusivity and interdisciplinarity to meet constant change.  In service of this aim the series covers important questions about the place of different epistemologies and cultures.  And the series pays close attention to the matter of establishing equivalence regarding supervisory and assessment practices. 

In this webinar we discuss the aims and scope of the PhD suited to post-pandemic times, focusing on the question of curriculum, with two invited presenters giving short presentations considering in turn the Humanities and the Sciences disciplines.  They will provide discussion documents in advance, through which the presenters will outline their national systems for doctoral programmes in their disciplinary fields, and respond to each other’s positions.  This will in turn structure small group discussion between participants, for purposes of generating insights into the problems at issue.  After plenary Q&A with the presenters, the event will last no more than two hours. 


Søren S.E. Bengtsen: Doctoral Education and Societal Impact in the Humanities

Research and research based knowledge is becoming increasingly central to societal and cultural growth, economic competitiveness, health, and happiness. As a consequence, the education of future researchers has taken on heightened political and institutional, as well as educational, interest, with a focus on how connections are being made between groundbreaking research and its societal impact and value. In particular, doctoral education within the humanities strives hard to make this connection overtly clear and meaningful. It is often tacit in what ways research within the humanities, during and after the doctoral education stage, is being conveyed, applied, and integrated within institutions, organisations, and companies outside the University. I shall introduce a research project studying how the cohesion between doctoral education, societal impact, and cultural value may be increased.  To read more about the project, which is funded by the Independent Research Fund Denmark:

To access the project website at Aarhus University:


John S. Torday: A Perspective from the Sciences

Human evolution speaks volumes about our reaction to COVID-19 and the highest level of academic qualification, representing therefore the highest purpose of the University, needs to respond appropriately. Life began as a thermodynamic ambiguity, the cell being in a negative entropic state, the environment in a positive entropic state. We have coped with that paradox by rationalizing our history from its ends instead of its means, but as false narratives. We now have the ability to determine the actual ontology that underpins our existence, and to develop the epistemology to come to grips with it… if only we have the will. PhDs across disciplines will have various other questions to address too, but the Science establishment must support the development of a swathe of newly minted PhDs asking hypothetical questions of Science itself, indeed, based on Quantum Mechanics as the paradigm for all of existence, i.e. a Unifying Theory, in order to underpin progress for humanity.



Søren S.E. Bengtsen is Associate Professor at the Department of Educational Philosophy and General Education, Danish School of Education (DPU), Aarhus University, Denmark. Also, at Aarhus University, he is the Co-Director of the research centre ‘Centre for Higher Education Futures’ (CHEF). Bengtsen is a founding member and Chair of the international academic association ‘Philosophy and Theory of Higher Education Society’ (PaTHES). Bengtsen’s recent books include The Hidden Curriculum in Doctoral Education (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020, co-authored with Dely L. Elliot, Kay Guccione, and Sofie Kobayashi), Knowledge and the University. Re-claiming Life (Routledge, 2019, co-authored with Ronald Barnett), The Thinking University. A Philosophical Examination of Thought and Higher Education (Springer, 2019, co-edited with Ronald Barnett), and Doctoral Supervision. Organization and Dialogue (Aarhus University Press, 2016).


John S. Torday, MSc, PhD graduated from Boston University, Boston MA with a BA in English/Biology in 1968. He is a Professor in Residence (Pediatrics, Obstetrics, Evolutionary Medicine) at the University of California- Los Angeles (1998- present). He received both his MSc (1971) and PhD (1974) in Experimental Medicine from McGill University, Montreal Canada. He has been continuously funded since 1968, initially as an Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School (1976-91); Professor, University of Maryland (1991-98); Professor, UCLA (1998-present). He has published over 200 peer-reviewed research articles in physiology, and 6 monographs on cellular evolution to date. He has lectured across the U.S., Canada and Europe as a member of many biomedical research societies. He is a Fellow of the European Academy of Science and Arts.



Other events in this series

The Post-Pandemic Doctorate, Opportunities For Revitalisation Of Theory And Practice: Will Covid-19 Reform And Change Doctoral Education? 28th April 2021

The Post-Pandemic Doctorate, Opportunities For Revitalisation Of Theory And Practice: Re-Designing The Doctorate For The New Era Of Global Online Higher Education 24th May 2021

The Post-Pandemic Doctorate, Opportunities For Revitalisation Of Theory And Practice: Tricky Issues Of Assessment. 21st June 2021


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