The Impossibilities of Neutrality: Other Geopolitical Metaphors for Academic Development Units
Potter, Michael K.
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This paper responds to the occasionally stated imperative in some contexts to be neutral as part of being an academic development unit (ADU). For over a decade at separate professional meetings of developers, two of the authors have heard the refrain that they need to be--or at least be perceived to be--"the Switzerland" of their campuses. Anecdotally, this squares with some of the conversations had by colleagues in the UK and North America, though the experience seems less relevant to peers in Australasian contexts. The neutrality referred to in this manner involves impartiality, non-partisanship, and confidentiality, which are important in certain aspects of academic development work. From historical and political science perspectives, the authors examine "middle powers" as one possibility; from anthropology and cultural studies, they build on prior work on tribes, territories, trading zones, and contact zones to think about their place in relation to their own "Others."
Holmes, Trevor, Catherine Manathunga, Michael K. Potter, and Brad Wuetherick. 2012. "The Impossibilities of Neutrality: Other Geopolitical Metaphors for Academic Development Units." International Journal for Academic Development 17(3): 197-202.