Narrating our professional identities: Kate Green at HCA Launchgrad

[Reposted from Hereford College of Arts’ online journal]

During her keynote at a recent Launchgrad session, Kate Green provoked us into thinking hard about how we negotiate the space between ‘private’ and ‘open’, sharing practical tips and advice along the way.

Our identity performance is fluid (Green, 2019)

Kate shared her journey, beginning with how, as a photography student she studied under Jonathan Worth, and became involved with a massive online teaching project. Phonar (short for Photography and narrative) was an award-winning undergraduate class in Photography designed and delivered by professional photographer Jonathan Worth. In 2009 he put it online and said anyone could do it for free which led to tens of thousands of people from all over the world joining in (Worth, 2017). 

As you might imagine, being part of a global phenomenon which played out on social media, Kate’s photography gained more exposure than you’d expect a student work to find, and set her reflecting about the power of social media, our professional identities and the importance of thinking deeply about how we tell our stories. 

Crucially, our post-presentation discussion led us to think about reflection and finding a personal balance between ‘sharing’ and being ‘open’; the vast opportunities which being open might bring, but, as Kate suggested, the need to consider this as part of a fluid identity ‘performance’. 

Developing ideas of privacy and openness further as part of a teaching and research project, Kate ran ‘underground’ digital privacy classes which aimed to start people thinking about social media and privacy; this is linked to her own experiences and later informed her current research which works at the intersection of computer science and healthcare. 

In 2017 Kate was named as one of the Internet Society’s 25 Under 25 most influential people due to her using the Internet as a tool for good. 

We were lucky enough to record a short extract from Kate’s talk, where she talks us through ideas of professional identity and how it changes. 

We are hugely grateful to Kate for visiting us at HCA and sharing her practical wisdom. After her visit, the Enterprise group came up with two key takeaways, which we share below: 

  • Our creative professional journey is fluid; we need to find a place that suits us now and know that this is unfixed – it will change with us.
  • We need to be aware of broader ethical issues and practical tools which can help us, for example, creative commons licences.

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