Sociology and Social Policy Seminar | Changing doctoral education
Doctoral education is being reformed worldwide. This is mostly due to perceived high attrition and low completion rates, long completion times, increasing Ph.D. numbers, a diversified Ph.D. population, enhanced international competition between higher education institutions and a presumed paradigm shift from individual or departmental to more institutional responsibility. As a consequence, new organisational frameworks for doctoral training emerged which aim to accelerate, improve, harmonise and make the Ph.D. process more transparent and predictable.
The underlying assumption of these new organisational frameworks is that they will fundamentally transform the practice of doctoral training and research. It has been argued, for example, that ‘converging practices’ and a ‘completion mindset’ emerge shifting supervision from a ‘creative’ educational to a more ‘directive’, ‘fast’, ‘managerial’ or ‘technical’ mode. Selecting less risky ‘doable’ research topics or Ph.D. cohorts more likely to complete on time are only some of the far-reaching epistemic and social consequences associated with the increased demand for more predictability. Yet international quantitative and qualitative studies have also found that the impact of new organisational frameworks on doctoral training practices is limited.
Marc will address the question of change and continuity in PhD research and supervision in the context of his current research project “International comparison of doctoral training practices”. The project is funded by the German Research Foundation and currently based at the Department of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Sydney. The project compares field-specific doctoral training practices in the social sciences and physics within contrasting higher education systems, namely the German chair, Australian lecturer and US graduate school system. The seminar will outline the project design, present first results of the German and Australian case studies, encourage a discussion about the Australian situation and invite PhD students as well as supervisors to participate in the project.
About the Speaker
Marc Torka is a sociologist of science, higher education and the professions. He earned is PhD in Sociology at Germany’s largest Faculty of Sociology at Bielefeld University. His thesis “Die Projektförmigkeit der Forschung” [Projectification of Research] was published as a book in 2009. Marc worked as a researcher at the WZB Berlin Social Science Center (2007-2012), Europe’s largest independent research institute for social sciences, and at the Institute for Social Research at Frankfurt University (2013-2016). He was visiting scholar at Sydney Democracy Network (2015), teaches at Macquarie University and is Honorary Associate at the Department of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Sydney. His work on doctoral education and academic habitus formation has been published in Minerva, the International Association of Universities and Australian Universities’ Review. He currently works on a book on academic socialisation worldwide.