I started this blog in May 2011. Around 200 posts later, towards the end of 2018, I pretty much stopped posting. That wasn’t a conscious decision: I just didn’t have the time to keep writing posts, or the enthusiasm to make the time. And blogs started to feel a bit dated too, three or four years ago. I kept up with Twitter instead.
But I would like to start to post again. I always enjoyed the freedom of writing a blog post, the ability to pick a topic and just say something small and provisional about it. And now I’m coming to the end of a tough few years, and an extended sabbatical is hoving into view, I will have the time, I think, and the inclination too.
I moved to the University of Oxford in 2017 and was elected the Head of the School of Geography and the Environment in 2019. One UCU strike later and the pandemic struck. And the REF. And other projects and ‘challenges’. With a large number of amazing colleagues, we made some good changes to the School, I think. But in a highly devolved university, the work needed to achieve those things has been immense.
And not just the labour of doing things: also the emotional labour of trying to support colleagues as they – we – went through all sorts of crises and difficulties. Another head of a department of geography – Professor Jenny Pickerill at Sheffield – tweets wonderfully about taking care of others, and yourself, when you’re trying to lead a group a people in really demanding times. (Follow her at @JennyPickerill.)
I didn’t – don’t – feel able to share my experiences as a Head as generously as Jenny does. But this blog might once again be my different voice. I hope some of the posts might prove interesting to you too.