Post-graduate and ECR pre-conference event

Tuesday 5th July 2016

The focus of this year’s pre-conference event will be networking with other researchers and discussing diverse career pathways during and beyond the PhD. We will also discuss the Fifth Estate and its pressing relevance for communication scholars.

This is a free event open to all postgraduate students and early career researchers. Lunch and morning/afternoon tea will be provided. The event will be held at the University of Newcastle campus and buses will be arranged from the Crowne Plaza and Newcastle Travelodge  (see Accommodation and Venue for further information).


9:30–10:00 Registration – Great Hall Foyer
10:00–10:45 Welcome and Academic Speed Dating
10:45–11:00 Morning tea
11:00–12:30 Keynote: How to Prepare for your Post PhD Career (A/Prof Inger Mewburn, the Thesis Whisperer)
Emerging research on job ads show that employers are looking for an extremely broad set of skills and attributes when looking to hire early career researchers. These range from ‘soft skills’ such as pastoral care, team-work and networking, to highly technical skills in teaching and research. In this presentation Dr Inger Mewburn outlines some of the research around PhD graduate employability and unpicks what it means for you: what should you be doing right now to ensure post PhD career success?
12:30–1:30 Lunch
1:30–2:45 Panel: Post PhD Career Pathways: Strategies and Possibilities (A/Prof Inger Mewburn, Dr Mitchell Hobbs, Dr Jonathon Hutchinson & Dr Elizabeth Paton)

Four researchers/academics/industry professionals will share their experiences and answer questions about post PhD career pathways.

2:45–3:00 Afternoon tea
3:00–4:00 Keynote: What is the Fifth Estate and Why Does it Matter?: Neoliberalism, Globalisation and a Rapidly Changing World (A/Prof Phillip McIntyre)

Phillip’s keynote can be listened to here (mp3 – audio only).

On the National Film and Sound Archive website there is a claim that states “…only science fiction dreamed of girdling the earth with a network of computer links. Thinkers of the 18th and 19th century had understood the importance of press to society and had named it the Fourth Estate after the other three Estates of the nobility, the clergy and the middle class. Little did they know that the 21st century would see the emergence of an equally important Fifth Estate – the internet and World Wide Web” (NFSA 2016). Running alongside the emergence of the Fifth Estate another important world event was unfolding. By the 1980s a very particular political ideology had begun to dominate policy decisions worldwide. It was driven by the “assumption that individual freedoms are guaranteed by freedom of the market” (Harvey 2007, p. 7). However, while this largely utopian project began to cement itself in many world leaders’ thinking, and of course the actions that sprang from that thinking, it gave rise to a more pragmatic “political project to re-establish the conditions for capital accumulation and to restore the power of economic elites” (Harvey 2007, p. 19). For good or ill it is the second of these projects that has come to dominate policy in an increasingly globalised and digitised world; so much so that it has become almost unthinkable to imagine a world not based on these neoliberal principles. With neoliberalism riding on the back of globalisation and digitization these events in total have heralded a radically new world which it is necessary to understand. Why is this the case? A recent study by Deloittes set out “the magnitude of digital disruption across 18 major industries tracked in Australia by the Bureau of Statistics” (Deloittes 2014, p. 4). Around the same time journalists began to question the values these changes appear to be built on. For example Tom Schulz from Der Spiegel has written that “We are witnessing nothing less than a societal transformation that ultimately nobody will be able to avoid. It is the kind of sea change that can only be compared with 19th century industrialization, but it is happening much faster this time. Just as the change from hand work to mass production dramatically changed our society over 100 years ago, the digital revolution isn’t just altering specific sectors of the economy, it is changing the way we think and live” (Schulz 2015, online). In sum these changes raise some simple yet profound questions; questions such as ‘How did we get here?’, ‘What has this got to do with me?’ and, finally, ‘Why does any of this matter?’

Deloittes (2014) Harnessing the ‘Bang’: Stories from the Digital Frontline (London: Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd).
Harvey, D. (2007) A Brief History of Neoliberalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
NFSA (2016) ‘The Fifth Estate: A Selective History of the Internet in Australia’ National Film and Sound Archive (accessed 3/5/16).
Schulz, T. (2015) ‘Tomorrowland: How Silicon Valley Shapes our Future’ Der Spiegel Online International (accessed 23/2/16).


Associate Professor Inger Mewburn

Photo of Inger MewburnA/Prof Inger Mewburn is a researcher, specialising in research education since 2006. She is currently the Director of Research Training at The Australian National University where she is responsible for co-ordinating, communicating and measuring all the centrally run research training activities and doing research on student experience to inform practice. Aside from editing and contributing to the Thesis Whisperer blog, she writes scholarly papers, books and book chapters about research student experiences, with a special interest in the digital practices of academics. She also teaches the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) How to Survive your PhD.

Associate Professor Phillip McIntyre Phillip McIntyre is a Communication and Media scholar with a research focus on creativity and innovation. He is co-editor of ‘The Creative System in Action: Understanding Cultural Production and Practice’ (2016) and author of ‘Creativity and Cultural Production: Issues for Media Practice’ (2012), published by Palgrave MacMillan. Phillip is the Group Leader of the University of Newcastle’s Communication and Media Research (CAMR) group and a member of the Hunter Centre for Creative Industries and Technology (HCIT). Phillip has also had over twenty-five years of industrial and professional experience in the music industry where he was a songwriter, instrumentalist, musical director and manager for various musical groups dealing with promoters, record companies and distribution labels.


To register for this free event, please indicate your attendance on the Conference Registration form. Please note that registration is essential for catering purposes.

For further information, please email Liz Goode and Caitlin McGregor at

We look forward to seeing you there!