This weeks LRDG talk will be by Sandra Wearden, Associate Member of Centre for Higher Education Research and Evaluation, Lancaster University, who will talk about: 

How are Programme Guides Involved in the Perpetuation of Degree Ceremonies?

Degree ceremonies are symbolic events widely associated with higher education.  They incorporate diverse social actors, distinctive material artefacts, and ritualistic processes, some of which can be traced back to medieval universities in Europe.  My research is focused on how these remarkably resilient ceremonial occasions are being constructed and perpetuated at a time of significant global growth in higher education.

Despite having the capacity to transmit culture and power through social and material actors in public spaces, there have been surprisingly few academic studies about degree ceremonies, particularly contemporary ones.  Most recent studies have emanated from, and focused on, the assemblage of large scale ceremonies held in the USA, and the wearisome effects they often produce.  These accounts also allude to the agentive effects of material features included in degree ceremonies but provide little explanation.

Resting on a constructionist theory of knowledge and drawing on basic theoretical devices used in actor-network theory, I have aimed to foreground these matters through my recently completed doctoral studies.  For the purposes of this session, I will be focusing specifically on data collected about programme guides which are provided for students, guests and officials at many degree ceremonies.

The aim is to demonstrate how programme guides contribute to the assemblage and perpetuation of degree ceremonies over time and space, and how they have capacity to enact and reflect global, and local forces of change in higher education.

If you happen to have any degree ceremony programme guides of your own, then please bring them along!

Add to my calendar

Back to listing