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Breaking the System: Using Imagination and Hope to Navigate Early Career Academia

An Early Career Forum Event

18 June 2019
BSA Meeting Room, Durham, UK

Programme Outline

10.30–11.00: Registration and welcome

11.00–13.00: Writing Otherwise: Applying Creative Practice to Find Confidence and Challenge 'Imposter Syndrome'Dr Viccy Adams

In this session we'll be working with published author Viccy Adams to explore different forms of writing, what writing can do for us, and how experimenting with writing can help boost our confidence in our everyday academic lives. The workshop will be participatory but voluntary - no scary reading out loud if you don't want to! Viccy is an experienced creative writing teacher and will present us with a series of imaginative tasks and provocations. 

13.00–14.00: Lunch

14.00–15.15: Taking Control and Letting Go: Exploring Our Options as Early Career ScholarsDr Radhika Govinda (Edinburgh), Dr Vikki Turbine (independent) and Dr Kim Jamie (Durham) 

The aim of this session is to explore what it is we do when we do ‘academia’: how might our personal inclinations sit in opposition with career or institutional pressures and expectations? How should we traverse these gulfs? How can we straddle different intellectual, creative, practical, and political spheres? Is it possible to practice as an academic in a way that doesn’t maintain a distinction between ‘in and out’ of the university?​ The session will be led by panellists but with lots of time for group discussion and chat.

15.15–15.30: Break

15.30–16.30: Surviving and Thriving as an Early Career Scholar: Making Space for Hope, Health and KindnessDr Aarti Ratna (Southampton), Prof Sue Scott (President, European Sociological Association) and Prof Kate Sang (Heriot Watt)

Here we'll be thinking about how we make the transition from ‘PhD student/researcher’ to ‘academic’ – especially in the context of both PhD researcher and early career scholar being fairly nebulous and ambiguous terms. How do/can early career scholars assert themselves professionally, and what does it mean to move to the 'next level' of academic work? Are there specific practices or positions helpful to early career scholars to engage in? How do you go about reconceptualising your sense of (professional) self at such a transitory period, when you’re often on a series of temporary contracts? We’ll also open some space for practical advice on things like getting postdoctoral fellowships, other grants, securing a permanent job, and balancing teaching, research, and admin.

16.30:              Close of event

The whole day will be relaxed, informal, and gentle - we have lots of time for discussion, questions, and getting to know each other.

Please note quiet space will be available.


  • BSA Members: £5
  • Non-Members: £10

Registration is now OPEN, lunch and refreshments included. For further details please contact the organiser or for any booking enquiries contact the BSA Events Team.  Directions to the BSA Durham Meeting Room can be found here.


We'd like to offer a small number of bursaries to early career scholars who would like to attend this event. The bursary will be worth £50 for travel or accommodation, and the BSA will waive your registration fee. To qualify for this, you should fall into one of the following categories: unemployed/under-employed/no or little institutional funding. To apply, please send an email detailing your circumstances to the event organiser - Sarah Burton. Bursaries are on a first come, first served basis.

Registration closes 13 June 2019.