My first sabbatical begins

A sabbatical is a time for academics to engage in scholarly research away from their home institution (while still getting paid). The idea, I think, is to encourage faculty members to expand their network, learn new skills, and begin large projects that might not otherwise get off the ground amidst the burden of teaching and administration work. Think crop rotation.

The very notion of a “sabbatical” is foreign to most people. Your university is going to pay you to not come to work?! is not an uncommon response I get from friends. I can see what it sounds like: a holiday. It’s not, really. In any case, I am certainly very thankful that the University of Technology Sydney has given me the opportunity.

Unfortunately, as you have no doubt noticed, we’re in the middle of a pandemic.

When I applied for the sabbatical in June 2019, I had to make two plans. The first was my plan assuming no pandemic. It had me gallivanting across numerous prestigious North American universities, connecting with old friends and making new ones, and beginning some exciting research projects.

The second was my plan assuming there was a pandemic. It had me remaining in Sydney with some possible excursions to Melbourne.

Alas, the pandemic continues and I find myself writing this post on the first day of my sabbatical from my home office, which also happens to be my toddlers bedroom. As I look around the room, at her cot, change table, and soft toys, I am very thankful that the ever-generous Professor John Roberts arranged for me to have an office at the UNSW Business School to use during my sabbatical.

So, what are my goals during this sabbatical? First, to get some things finished. I have three or four papers with revise-and-resubmit decisions that need to be completed. There’s also my PhD student, Ella Bruce, to help run through the finish line.

Second, to try and develop my “Life’s Biggest Decisions” project into a book. This, I think, is more aligned with the traditional goals of a sabbatical. I have already started drafting a book proposal but it is no small task. Building an “author platform” will also be part of the goal, which will involve writing more non-academic pieces, which I will also focus on.

Now, it is time to get started!