NEW UPDATE Call for papers: Special Issue "What is academic citizenship"


Special issue proposal, Journal of Praxis in Higher Education 


                                                        What is academic citizenship? 

Academics and wider publics alike highlight the conflicting and often frustrating demands that are levelled against the university academic: be engaged in society, be truth-seeking and objective, be problem-solving, be innovative and entrepreneurial, be independent, and contribute! 

With this special issue, we aim to create a collection of thought-provoking essays about where these complexities leave the figure of ‘the academic citizen’ and about which futures can be imagined for academic citizenship. This implies many additional questions, such as who qualifies as an academic citizen, what society one is a citizen of, and how the notions of ‘academic’, ‘society’ and ‘citizens’ relate. 

Universities today are complex and fragmented organisations with not one but many different perspectives on how to engage with society, on which ideals should guide such engagement, and also different perspectives on how the university itself should be considered “a society” with internal democratic and civil duties and values. Yet, despite complexity and fragmentation, universities are still strongly connected to ideas and values such as freedom of research and teaching, truth-seeking, critical thinking, and more recently also to societal problem-solving, sustainability, social justice, etc., issues which often ignite heated public debate about the difference between scientific knowledge and mere opinions. The confusion of aims and purposes leads to a lack of trust between universities and various publics – but also sometimes to a lack of trust between academics and their leaders, as well as to tensions between peers, students and teachers, and to significant polarising effects. There is a reasonable demand for establishing a sustained conversation about the rules of engagement for the academic vis-a-vis societal expectations but also, and intimately related, a conversation about the meaning of academic citizenship for the inner life of the university. This makes it important to ask: what is academic citizenship?  

On many standards, the universities have had extensive impacts, and according to their own traditional values, they have been generally successful. Unprecedented numbers of students study at universities, there is deeply entangled cooperation with states, industries and societal actors. They are widely perceived to be crucial for solving current and future global problems from climate to migration and poverty. University education is in most places still considered a central aspect of social mobility, of mobilising future improvements of life individually but also socially and collectively. Nevertheless, despite these seeming successes, the university, considered as an autonomous institution of research and study, is in crisis. What to study has been challenged by markets, by funding bodies, by political demands for solutions to problems, but also by new modes of studying, researching, and engaging with society triggered by students and researchers as well as by surrounding societies. Changes both internal to the structure and organisation of science, as well as its relation to broader publics have challenged academic life in many of its facets. 

These massive cultural and economic changes of and in the university’s entanglement with society have led to changes of what is to be expected of the academic. In this special issue, we welcome contributions that inquire into the future(s) of academic citizenship in a university which will not go back to what it was in an often-idealised past. Which concepts of, ideas for, purposes for academic citizenship-in-the-making are in play in current diagnostics of what more sustainable university and higher education futures could look like? What does academic citizenship mean in times where the autonomy of the universities is questioned, what is the purpose of academic citizenship, why do we talk about such a thing? What is the relation between citizenship and autonomy, between citizenship and publics? Was there ever an ideal form of academic citizenship in the past? What may be the future paths of academic citizenship? Which varieties af academic citizenship are out there and what are their implied societies? How is academic citizenship shaped, and by whom? Which responsibilities are implied by being an academic citizen?  

 Format: Short academic essays of max. 3000 words. Thought-provoking pieces which pointedly discuss important problems of academic citizenship, or new ideas for academic citizenship. The essays are stylistically freer than an academic article and references should be kept in the range of 10-15.  

 In particular, we propose and will assess manuscripts on being: 

  • Centred on a single argument 
  • Rigorous and critical  
  • Embedded in ongoing discussions, but not extensively reviewing past literature 
  • Providing a perspective on future scenarios or implications 
  • Engaging for a broad academic audience (students, teachers, researchers, leaders, and even stakeholders beyond academia) 

If you have an idea for a paper and would like to discuss this with one of the editors, please feel free to do so. 


Kind regards,  

Jakob Egholm Feldt, professor, Roskilde University: 
Søren Smedegaard Bengtsen, associate professor, Aarhus University:
Serge Pascal Johannes M. Horbach, postdoc, Aarhus University:
Laura Louise Sarauw, associate professor, Roskilde University: 

Timeline (suggested) 

Call for papers out: August 2022 

Initial submissions coming in: December 31 2022 

Reviews will be sent out: March 2023 

Revised papers due: August 2023 

Anticipated Publication: December 2023


Editorial process 

The guest editorial team will be responsible for the entire process. This includes:   

  • Managing the peer review process of submitted manuscripts, including the allocation of reviewers and/or acting as reviewers themselves 
  • Making final decisions on submitted manuscripts 
  • Writing an editorial based on the contributions