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Routledge Education Author of the Month April 2012: Bruce Macfarlane

I work as an associate professor for higher education in the Faculty of Education at the University of Hong Kong. I have had several careers within and beyond higher education as variously a bank management trainee, English teacher, business lecturer, academic developer and higher education researcher. In 2010 I returned to work in Hong Kong 25 years after starting my teaching career here in the mid 1980s.

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In a tongue-in-cheek remark the French philosopher Michel Foucault reputedly once said that the role of academics is to ‘make things complicated’. I have always believed, however, that the role of academics is to try to explain complicated things in understandable terms. This is a goal I have pursued as an academic in my teaching and writing partly as I need to explain things to myself, as well as my students. Of course, I write books for other reasons such as personal vanity and because I like trying to set myself difficult things to do. Yet several of my books are really extended attempts to explore the meaning of words and phrases we like to invoke but rarely explain.

I have published 3 books about the ethical aspects of the teaching, service and research roles of the academic under the titles Teaching with Integrity (2004), The Academic Citizen (2007) and Researching with Integrity (2009). These books try to unpick what the word ‘integrity’ means in the context of academic life identifying a series of moral virtues (or excellences of character) that capture its essence. In my new book, Intellectual Leadership in Higher Education (2012), I am trying to unlock the meaning of ‘intellectual leadership’ beyond the confines of formally defined management roles. In so doing, the book draws substantially on research into the role of the (full) university professor.

Aside from my single authored books and publishing journal papers and book chapters, I have co-edited two other Routledge titles: Effective Learning and Teaching in Business and Management (2001, with Roger Ottewill) and Challenging Boundaries: Managing the Integration of Post-secondary Education (2009, with Neil Garrod). I am also involved with several academic journals as a member of their editorial board (eg Higher Education Quarterly) and I work as special issues editor of Higher Education Research and Development.

My current research is focused on understandings of academic integrity in China and Hong Kong. While a lot of researchers focus on academic misconduct and corruption I am principally interested in what principles and values more positively define academic integrity. But getting people to talk about this (rather than the negative things) is much more challenging!

As someone who was told he was ‘not academic’ at school I never thought I would be able to write one book, let alone several. Hence my publishing career is as much a surprise to me as anyone else. But I would encourage more academics to take up the challenge of writing a book rather than focusing only on writing journal articles. Regardless of the performative pressures to publish in journals writing a book is ultimately a more rewarding intellectual challenge. It enables you to develop a sustained argument and gain feedback through book reviews. Even if these are critical at least it means that someone is reading what you have written. Afterall, we all know that the worst thing that can happen to you as an academic is simply to be ignored.

Please visit Bruce here: http://web.edu.hku.hk/academic_staff.php?staffId=bmac

Related Products

  1. Intellectual Leadership in Higher Education

    Renewing the role of the university professor

    By Bruce Macfarlane

    Series: Research into Higher Education

    What is ‘intellectual leadership’ and how might this concept be better understood in the modern university? Drawing on research into the role of full or chair professors, this book argues that it is important to define and reclaim intellectual leadership as a counter-weight to the prevailing...

    Published February 17th 2012 by Routledge

  2. The Academic Citizen

    The Virtue of Service in University Life

    By Bruce Macfarlane

    Series: Key Issues in Higher Education

    With increasing focus on excellence in research and teaching, the service role of the individual academic is often neglected. This book calls for greater recognition of this important aspect of academic life, highlighting the importance of mentoring, committee work and pastoral care in the daily...

    Published April 5th 2010 by Routledge

  3. Challenging Boundaries

    Managing the integration of post-secondary education

    Edited by Neil Garrod, Bruce Macfarlane

    This edited volume will be an important and key resource for managers, researchers, and policy makers in the field of Higher Education and Further Education. It offers insights into a radical new way of organizing post-compulsory education on an international basis that directly promotes a social...

    Published December 17th 2008 by Routledge

  4. Researching with Integrity

    The Ethics of Academic Enquiry

    By Bruce Macfarlane

    There is increased emphasis internationally on ethically sound research, and on good training for research supervisors. Researching with Integrity aims to identify what and how research can be undertaken ethically and with ‘virtue’ from initial conception of ideas through to dissemination. It...

    Published December 5th 2008 by Routledge

  5. The Academic Citizen

    The Virtue of Service in University Life

    By Bruce Macfarlane

    Series: Key Issues in Higher Education

    With increasing focus on excellence in research and teaching, the service role of the individual academic is often neglected. This book calls for greater recognition of this important aspect of academic life, highlighting the importance of mentoring, committee work and pastoral care in the daily...

    Published April 6th 2010 by Routledge

  6. Teaching with Integrity

    The Ethics of Higher Education Practice

    By Bruce Macfarlane

    This is a book about the ethics of teaching in the context of higher education. While many books focus on the broader socially ethical topics of widening participation and promoting equal opportunities, this unique book concentrates specifically on the lecturer's professional responsibilities. It...

    Published October 15th 2003 by Routledge


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