Submit a Manuscript to the Journal

Development in Practice

For a Special Issue on

Pracademics as Change Agents

Abstract deadline
29 September 2023

Manuscript deadline
31 January 2024

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Special Issue Editor(s)

Angela Crack, Associate Professor at the University of Portsmouth, UK
[email protected]

Faina Diola, Professor at the National College of Public Administration and Governance of the University of the Philippines
[email protected]

Willem Elbers, Assistant Professor at Radboud University, Netherlands
[email protected]

Alan Fowler, Chair and Honorary Professor in African Philanthropy at the University of Witwatersrand Business School, South Africa
[email protected]

Ines Pousadela, Professor of Comparative Politics at Universidad ORT, Uruguay
[email protected]

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Pracademics as Change Agents

This special issue turns the spotlight on pracademics, an under-appreciated and under-investigated group of individuals who play a crucial role in transforming academic knowledge into effective development practice. Scholarship on pracademica originated in public administration and public policy (Posner 2009). However, there is still little research on the phenomenon in development studies, which is odd given the preponderance of current and former practitioners in the field, and the popularity of applied research and participatory methodologies. This special issue aims to fill that gap, in line with Development in Practice’s broad commitment to facilitate collaborations and engagement within and beyond academia. We aim to deepen our understanding of the ways that pracademics can drive positive social change, and ways in which they can be supported to do so.

We define pracademics in development studies and development work as individuals with academic appointments who actively engage in development processes as change agents. Preliminary research by the special issue’s guest editors has provided insights into the range of valuable and value-driven activity that pracademics do, including acting as a relational ‘broker’ between research and development stakeholders, providing solution-focussed advice to practitioners and policy-makers, providing an evidence base for decision-making and project management, and communicating knowledge to the general public. However, the research has also indicated that many self-identified pracademics across several countries report that they face similar obstacles, despite their differing institutional environments and life journeys. Challenges include prejudicial attitudes from their peers about the quality of their work, the pressure of juggling competing demands and deadlines, lack of recognition for their contributions, and dilemmas about career prospects. The rich insights provided by this data raise several research questions, which we invite potential contributors to the special issue to consider:

a) what are the attributes of individuals who self-identify as pracademics, and how do they perceive their role in academia and practice?
b) what is the role of the pracademic in bridging the gap between theory and practice?
c) what are the institutional conditions that best enable pracademics to achieve ‘real world’ beneficial impact?
d) what types of career paths do pracademics follow, and what are the benefits and ‘costs’ of pursuing pracademia in terms of career development inside and outside the academy?
e) how can pracademia be practised in an ethical and non-extractive way, particularly in the context of hierarchical relationships? (North-South, tenured-precarious, etc).

We invite submissions that address any of these questions, or different questions on the same broad theme. In-depth case studies of impact are especially encouraged, as are viewpoints and practice notes. We particularly welcome submissions from pracademics located in the global South.

Find out more about the types of papers published by Development in Practice here:

Submission Instructions

To be considered for inclusion, please email an abstract of 200 words by Friday 29 September 2023 to the guest editors (via [email protected]). Once accepted, the deadline for submission of the full manuscript is Wednesday 31 January 2024. Papers will be subject to double-masked peer review, as per the editorial guidelines of Development in Practice.

Full submissions of articles can be made via DiP's submission portal. Please ensure that you add the Special Issue title 'Pracademics as Change Agents' when submitting your article.

Instructions for AuthorsSubmit an Article