Universities are increasingly adopting a neoliberal managerial framework that profoundly influences their organizational structure. Hiring strategies, evaluation methods, and knowledge outputs now predominantly prioritize efficiency and economic justification. This inevitably raises fundamental questions regarding the valuation of creativity and critical thinking, attributes that inherently demand significant time and deep intellectual engagement. Moreover, this transformation has far-reaching implications for the recognition of labour and the knowledge generated within academic institutions.

In this session, we will employ a critical lens, incorporating decolonial, feminist and queer perspectives, to reflect on the role of universities and to examine how the increasingly managerial nature of academia impacts certain types of labour and excludes certain types of knowledge. Moreover, we will focus on how these trends are manifesting in our own university, and discuss strategies and examples of resistance to counteract the neo-liberalization of universities and the exclusion of certain voices.

Invited speakers

Willem Halffman is a sociologist of science, researching the organisation and knowledge construction of the life sciences. He lectures natural scientists on the social dimensions of their work, which resulted in a co-authored handbook for environmental scientists, Environmental Expertise. He is currently researching failing error correction processes in the scientific publication system. He has a position as associate professor at the Institute for Science in Society at the science faculty of Radboud University and is associate member of the Centre for Science, Knowledge and Policy (SKAPE) at Edinburgh University.

Maddie Breeze is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology & Public Sociology at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh. Maddie researches and teaches queer feminist sociology and inequalities in higher education. Maddie’s book Seriousness in Women's Roller Derby: Gender, Organisation, and Ambivalence (2015) was awarded the 2016 British Sociological Association Philip Abram's Memorial Prize. Her second book Feminist Repetitions in Higher Education: Interrupting Career Categories is co-authored with Prof Yvette Taylor and published in 2020. With Dr Michelle Addison and Prof Yvette Taylor Maddie edited The Palgrave Handbook of Imposter Syndrome in Higher Education (2022).

Céline Gümüs is an Antwerp-based activist who has been involved in the fight against education budget cuts since her student days. She plays an active role in the action group 'Students in Solidarity with the Cleaning Staff,'. She draws connections between cuts affecting cleaning staff and those impacting higher education. Additionally, she is engaged with the 8 March Committee. Her involvement in these various initiatives reflects her commitment to socially significant issues and her pursuit of greater justice in education.


Nathalie Vallet is professor of Strategic Management at the Faculty of Design Sciences at University of Antwerp