The seagull imperative


In Australia, many Community Psychologists are University based academics desperately juggling the competing demands of their institutions and their commitment to community engagement. We are all under pressure to generate outcomes on behalf of our respective institutions.

Unfortunately, we often find that our commitment to principled practice is at odds with the demands of University research bodies. We must of necessity accrue academic currency, the coin of the tertiary realm, if we are to scale the dizzy heights of academe. The most valuable denominations of academic currency are of course the refereed journal articles and research funding. To build our balance we often default to the Seagull Imperative. The seagull imperative is an insidious form of academic corrosion eating away our commitment to principled practice. As many of you will know a ‘seagull’ is a researcher or consultant who flies into a community; craps all over everything then leaves the community to tidy up the mess. It is no surprise that many communities have become both burdened with meaningless research reports and disenchanted with researchers/consultants, regardless of how well intentioned they are. Many people in Indigenous communities will say with a sense of resignation, rather than any real sense of satisfaction, “Welcome to our world!”



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