Presenters Biography

Dr Lisa J Cary – Higher Education Academy Programmes Coordinator, Murdoch University 

Lisa has taught, studied and conducted research in Higher Education in Australia, Canada and the United States of America (USA), and was the Associate Dean for Learning & Teaching in the School at Education at Murdoch before stepping into her current position. She is committed to research that reveals how the work we do in Higher Education is framed and shaped discursively and how this then frames our knowing of leadership in the learning and teaching space in Higher Education.  She has published widely in high-ranking journals in the areas of Educational Leadership, Qualitative Research and Curriculum Studies. In 2015, Lisa developed the Murdoch University Learning & Teaching Certificate with the Centre for University Teaching and Learning (CUTL), and this program was accredited by the Higher Education Academy UK (HEA) in 2016.  She is currently in the process of developing a pathway for recognition of the great work done by our leaders in learning and teaching. 

Dr Susan Blackley – Director Student Engagement, Faculty of Humanities, Curtin University 

Susan is the Director of Student Engagement in the Faculty of Humanities at Curtin University. Prior to this she was the Director of Student Experience and Partnerships in the School of Education, and Primary Education Course Coordinator. Susan has a strong program of collaborative educational research and her current research lies in digital professional portfolios, STEM education, LEGO robotics, and professional identity. Susan led the Humanities Gender Equity Working Group and contributed to Curtin’s Athena SWAN Bronze Award application. She is a HERDSA Fellow and a member of the National Executive with the portfolio of Learning and Teaching. In this role, she mentors Associate Fellows to submit their HERDSA Fellowship applications, and also is a Fellowship Assessor. Recently, Susan was awarded a Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (UK), and is committed to investigating the leadership roles enacted by academics in higher education settings.  

Associate Professor Jennifer Howell – Dean, Learning and Teaching, Faculty of Humanities, Curtin University 

Jennifer is the Dean, Learning & Teaching in the Faculty of Humanities at Curtin University. She has a long track record of research and teaching in the area of educational technologies and has taught in pre-service teacher education programs in Australia, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom. Previously, she was the Director of Student Experience and Community Engagement in the School of Education at Curtin University, and established the Professional Learning Hub. This has proven to be an exciting innovation, delivering professional learning workshops and opportunities throughout Western Australia. Her research areas are online communities, LEGO robotics, STEM education, and more recently, educational leadership. 



The journey into educational leadership is not always intentional - more commonly it is a pathway triggered by unexpected opportunities or at the prompting of line managers. This incidental transitioning potentially has an enormous impact on the identity and effectiveness of leaders. In this presentation we explore the foundational assumptions of ‘doing’ leadership and the journey academics take as they move from traditional research/teaching roles into those of leadership. Learning and teaching within any institution has its challenges as it is a unique context with many competing agendas and leadership in this space does not have an extensive body of research nor the usual theoretical underpinnings. This presentation seeks to challenge the codified knowledge base of learning and teaching in Higher Education and, in doing so, it will attempt to reinvent and reinterpret notions of ‘leadership’ and ‘learning and teaching’. The presentation will include a critical discourse analysis of three narratives of leadership, experienced across two Australian universities situated within Western Australia. These narratives highlight the competing epistemologies and political agendas that impact on educational leadership and leadership identity and will contribute to a wider understanding of the challenges such leaders face.