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Queen Mary Academy

Professor Janet De Wilde

Meet Professor Janet De Wilde, the Director of Queen Mary Academy. In her profile, she tells us about her recent appointment to the UK Council for Graduate Education (UKCGE), her plans for Queen Mary Academy and her love of walking.

How long have you worked at Queen Mary?  

I’ve been at Queen Mary for eight months. I came from Imperial College where I led the Professional Development Unit.

Congratulations on your appointment to the UK Council for Graduate Education (UKCGE). Please tell us a bit more about what this involves.

The UKCGE is the voice for the postgraduate sector across the UK, as a board member I collaborate with others to help with events, conferences, policy papers, and representation. The postgraduate sector is often termed the neglected sector as so much discussion is focused on the undergraduate experience. Being part of an organisation that is aimed at improving the postgraduate experience is very rewarding. The benefit is two-fold as postgraduates play a key role in supporting the wider university community, and post graduate researchers support undergraduates through teaching, demonstrating, and supervising project work.

Tell us a bit about Queen Mary Academy. How did it come about and what is your vision for it?

The Queen Mary Academy has been formed to support the delivery of Strategy 2030 in terms of education and research practice. My vision is to create a community of learning for academic practice. My colleagues and I want the Academy to be seen as a collaboration with both staff and students to co-create a fantastic resource of support and development in academic practice.

The Queen Mary Academy has been operational for nine months now, tell us a bit more about the challenges and successes so far.

We have been successful in transferring our delivery online in terms of our provision of the  Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (PGCAP),  Certificate of Learning and Teaching (CILT)and researcher development support. We have also been successful in collaborating with the E-Learning Unit (ELU), IT Services (ITS), and external suppliers to support staff across Queen Mary to deliver their modules online.
During the last eight months, we have launched the Queen Mary Academy Fellows, run two funding calls for the Westfield Fund, and we are about to launch a student recognition scheme called SEED. We have continued to grow the number of staff with recognition through the awards of Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy.

What’s coming up for the Academy in the next year? How can staff get involved?

The major event coming up next year is the Festival of Education 2021. We will celebrate Queen Mary’s blended approach to learning and teaching. Staff and students can contribute and attend, the call for contributions is out this week.


Describe your average day/week

My average week is attending team meetings to discuss and collaborate on implementing the educational and research strategic plans. I also listen to the needs of Schools and Institutes, through the Directors of Education and Programme Directors Forums. I work with others to ensure the Academy can develop and enhance our offer of support. We have a lot of work still to do but we have started our implementation.


Do you work closely with any particular colleagues or teams?  How does that work?

I meet regularly with ELU, IT Services and others around support for blended and online learning, it has to be a collaborative as it is the combination of pedagogy and technology. I also work closely with Deans and Deputy Deans of Education to ensure we develop robust support to deliver the educational strategy. I work closely with Faculty Educational Managers, Queen Mary Students’ Union Faculty VPs and with the many professional services such as Academic Registry and Council Secretariat, Library, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Disability and Dyslexia Service and more. Education and researcher development requires multifaceted expertise and it requires a collaborative approach.


What’s the best thing about your job?

The best thing about my job is discussing educational and researcher development approaches with enthusiastic staff and students. I enjoy discussing strategy and approaches of implementation to ensure impact.

What do you see as your role in helping the University achieve its Strategy 2030?

I am very focused on how the Academy can support all aspects of Strategy 2030. We have a key role in implementing the Educational Enabling Plan, and we also support research development aspects of the Research Enabling Plan and the People, Culture and Inclusion enabling plan.

What’s your favourite place on any of our campuses?

I like sitting or walking by the canal at Mile End, and the Octagon is a great space too.

If you could tell a prospective student one thing about Queen Mary, what would it be?

Engage with university life as much as possible, get involved, you get out what you put in. Queen Mary is a fabulous place for meeting a wide range of people.

If you hadn’t been the Director of the Queen Mary Academy, what job would you have liked to do?

I would like to run a remote retreat in the Highlands of Scotland.

Do you have any unusual hobbies, pastimes outside of work?

Nothing unusual, I love walking in the Kent countryside, and in the Scottish Highlands when we are allowed to travel. I do enjoy yoga as well.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

I would like to discuss situated learning and communities of practice with social anthropologist Jean Lave and educational theorist Etienne Wenge.