Top honour for research excellence

13 May 2016
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Dr Kirsten Locke with her father John Locke at the award ceremony.

At a celebration of the University of Auckland’s continued excellence in research, Faculty of Education and Social Work academic Dr Kirsten Locke has received top honours for Early Career Research Excellence.

Dr Locke, who is based in the faculty’s School of Critical Studies in Education, received one of only­­­­ six Early Career Research Excellence Awards, which was presented to her by Vice-Chancellor Professor Stuart McCutcheon at an awards event held last week.

The annual awards recognise and promote excellence and research leadership potential among emerging researchers at the University of Auckland and enable them to further their research, establish stronger international links or embark on new fields of research.

“It was fantastic to represent the faculty at these awards and I was truly humbled to receive this award alongside other early career researchers across the University whose research is so impressive,” Kirsten says.

As a researcher and practitioner working at the interface of education and philosophy, Dr Locke’s passion for education is driven by an approach that seeks to understand the role of education in pursuit of a more equitable society and the transformative power of education in the lives of individuals. 

Her research brings a philosophical lens to topical issues across multiple disciplines including music and architecture, mosaics and disaster, gender and higher education, modern learning environments and video journalling in ways that reshape function and form.

Dr Locke hopes her research will “challenge notions, ideas and connections that are often taken for granted in society and encourage thinking about the alternatives.”

Dr Locke presents and publishes widely as an emerging researcher and academic and also disseminates her research and ideas more widely in the community. In a recently well-received blog for Education Aotearoa Kirsten challenges the notion of learning in modern schools.

 “Dr Locke  is working well beyond that of an early career researcher,” Head of School Dr Carol Mutch says. “She is an exceptional thinker and inspiring presenter and is undertaking the difficult task of bringing a philosophical lens to the very ordinary and making us see these things in different ways.”

Dr Locke is currently conducting an international comparative exploration of women in academic careers and the challenges and obstacles they encounter within the university environment.

“My future research will focus primarily on womens’ experiences of working in Higher Education. This project breaks new ground by responding to an inequitable ratio of female and male professors within universities. I hope to provide the research evidence to support and inform policy development at university and national levels in the future.”