#Greenhouse – Growing meaning

When Chrissi Nerantzi invited me to attend a Greenhouse meeting my first thought was ‘I don’t know anything about gardening’. Turns out I was wrong.  The monthly meeting of academics and other interested people from around the university contributes to a type of intellectual greenhouse that cultivate cross faculty relationships, grows ideas and allows for cross fertilization of approaches to teaching and learning between disciplines and individuals.

I value my participation in this group, not only because it gives me exposure to other brilliant, intelligent and creative people around the university but because it provides a space for the kind of debate and innovations that some writers such as Rolfe (2012) fear may be being subsumed by other commercial priorities in academia.

The opportunity to sit around a table…


or even on the grass in the university park…


discussing why we think our creativity is important, how it impacts upon our students experiences and the satisfaction and fulfilment it gives us as educators is very satisfying. Furthermore, the number of people who “just happen to be passing” and then sit down to join in, suggests there is a hunger for this type of discourse across all parts of the organisation, nearly everyone I have enthused to about this greenhouse group has asked if they can join in too.

From my point of view, as someone who these days would describe themselves as more researcher than educator, the opportunity to work with my colleagues to produce cross disciplinary publications and research bids that apply this creativity and power to answering the questions that we all have to address as educators and facilitators is invaluable. It moves us out of our professional silos, it gives us an enhanced perspective on the fundamental issues that are exercising us and, more importantly, it gives us a cohesive voice with which to challenge the status quo.

And, after all, isn’t THAT what universities should be doing?

Carol Haigh

Rolfe, G. (2012). Fast food for thought: How to survive and thrive in the Corporate university. Nurse Education Today, 32(7), 732-736. doi:10.1016/j.nedt.2012.03.020

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