Doctoral researchers as change agents of higher education: An autoethnographic account
Keywords:autoethnography, doctoral education, change agent, reflexivity
Doctoral researchers are often assumed to be the academic actors with the least agency due to rigid academic hierarchies. In doctoral education scholarship, it has not been extensively discussed how doctoral researchers deploy their agency beyond their own research projects or how they might even play a pivotal role in shaping their institutions. By drawing on the concept of a tempered radical, in these Notes from the field, I provide a reflexive account of actions I took as a doctoral researcher to create change within doctoral education: searching for allies, focusing on positive deviance, and accepting slow, incremental change. With this analysis and by offering some considerations for practice, I argue that doctoral researchers should be encouraged to see themselves as agentive and take opportunities—even risks—to affect the settings they work in and academia in general.