Moving to teaching online: moral injury, pandemic and the toxic university

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapter


UK universities have traditionally been understood as a community of scholars exercising their expertise to generate new knowledge, challenge existing structures, and help develop contemporary societies. However, many have argued that such an understanding is somewhat mythical with the purpose of universities shifting dramatically over the past two decades. Taking this proposition as its point of departure, this chapter draws on Jonathan Shay’s understanding of Moral Injury to critically engage with the understandings and experiences prevalent in UK Higher Education during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Throughout this chapter, we draw on extensive data from UK Higher Education staff, and our own reflections as UK academics, to interrogate the moral injury experienced as a result to shifts in working during the pandemic. We place this understanding in the context of New Public Management as being something that facilitates moral injury in, at least, UK HE, and will note that moral injury, whilst exacerbated by the pandemic, preceded, and will last much longer than the pandemic. Finally, we reflect on our work in statactivism to highlight how simple tools can be used to enable voices that counter-dominant discourses contributing to the deterioration of working conditions and the stifling of creativity in the higher education sector and beyond.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBeyond the Pandemic Pedagogy of Managerialism
Subtitle of host publicationExploring the Limits of Online Teaching and Learning
EditorsBhabani Nayak, Katherine Appleford
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9783031401947
ISBN (Print)9783031401930
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sept 2023


  • Critical university studies


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