On Friday, I attended the fifth annual Researcher Education and Development Conference (#REDsconf19). This year the event was held in the impressive surroundings of the Great Hall in King’s Building, Kings College London. This conference was originally held in response to increasing professionalisation of the researcher developer role, the aim being to strengthen networks, share best practice and associated underpinning research.
This year, the theme of the conference was Identity, Agency and Choice – personal approaches to researcher development. I was particularly keen to attend this conference due to my involvement with Manchester Met’s development programmes, Future RKE Leaders and Good to Great. These programmes take a personalised approach to career development, supporting individuals to address their goals with a bespoke programme of support and development opportunities.
The morning session explored the importance of acknowledging varied and evolving researcher identities, and enabling researcher agency when designing and implementing development initiatives. Speakers explored the importance of dress as a method of emphasising agency and how different groups, eg women, still encounter structural barriers when working to develop their academic careers. The afternoon was spent showcasing different development initiatives plus methods of supporting individuals to have meaningful development experiences.
One of the key points I took away from the conference was an increased awareness of the role researcher developers can have in contributing to imposter syndrome. This can occur by advocating a set form of development linked to a specific ideal of an academic career trajectory. I plan to trial development initiatives discussed at the conference to further encourage researchers to take ownership of their career development, helping them to navigate the complexities of the academic landscape in a way that is meaningful to them.