There, for fortune: An ‘accidental’ academic life – Introduction

Experimenting with academic biography: A four-part interview with Colin Lankshear

The Invitation: Michael A. Peters

I was a colleague of Colin’s at Auckland University during the 1980s where in 1982 he was responsible for establishing the journal ACCESS, which is now part of PESA and in the process of relaunching as Access: Contemporary Issues in Education, having not lost an issue in its diverse 40 year Australasian history. I have had the pleasure of working with him and his partner Michele Knobel on occasions over the years. He is an authentic and inspirational intellectual who has searched for meaning through his literacy and research work over many years. It was a real privilege to engage in conversation with him.

Biographical fragments
Between 1976 and 1991 Colin worked at the University of Auckland, before taking up a research director position at Queensland University of Technology from 1993-1998. In 1999 he moved to Mexico doing freelance work at distance for Central Queensland University. Between 2001 and 2004 he was a part-time Professorial Research Fellow at the University of Ballarat, and a half time Professorial Research Fellow at James Cook University during 2004 – 2009. Between 2005 and 2008 he was a Visiting Scholar at McGill University. He is currently working at Mount Saint Vincent University as a consultant postgraduate studies adjunct professor (since 2007).

He specializes in language and literacy research, with a particular interest in new literacies associated with the explosion of the internet. He was originally trained as an educational philosopher with interests in political and moral philosophy. His doctoral thesis looked at freedom in education. In the course of his doctoral studies he became interested in a conception of freedom as liberation developed by the Brazilian educator Paulo Freire. This interest evolved into his first book on literacy in 1987, Literacy, Schooling and Revolution (Falmer), which explored reading and writing in relation to schooling and revolutionary change. In the 1990s, Lankshear collaborated with James Paul Gee and Glynda Hull to develop an account of literacy and fast capitalism within “the new work order.” Since the late 1990s his work has mostly focused on the theme of ‘new’ literacies, with occasional publications in the areas of teacher research (Lankshear & Knobel, 2004), and aspects of qualitative research (Knobel, Kalman and Lankshear 2020).

An Interview in 4 parts will follow in PESA Agora.

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Full Citation Information:
Lankshear, C., & Peters, M. A. (2020). There, for fortune: an "accidental" academic life: Experimenting with academic biography - A four-part interview with Colin Lankshear. Introduction PESA Agora.

Colin Lankshear

Colin Lankshear is an Adjunct Professor at Mount Saint Vincent University. (Canada). His research and writing mostly draw on a sociocultural approach to understanding literacy practices that are mediated by new technologies.

Michael A. Peters

Michael A. Peters (FRSNZ)  is a New Zealander and is currently Distinguished Professor at Beijing Normal University and Emeritus Professor University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He was awarded a Personal Chair at the University of Auckland in 2000 and became a Research Professor at the University of Glasgow (2000-2006) before being appointed Excellence Hire Professor at Illinois and Professor of Education at the University of Waikato. He has Honorary Doctorates from Aalborg University, Denmark and SUNY, New York.

Michael was Editor-in-Chief of Educational Philosophy and Theory for 25 years and is currently Editor of Beijing International Review of Education (Brill). He is the founding editor of Policy Futures in Education (Sage); E-Learning & Digital Media (Sage); Knowledge Cultures (Addleton); Open Review of Educational Research (Taylor & Francis); Video Journal of Education and Pedagogy (Brill) and on the board of many other journals and book series.

Michael has written over 120 books and many journal articles on a wide range of topics and has worked with and mentored many younger scholars. He was given the Social Science and Humanities Leader in China Award in both 2022 and 2023 ( and is ranked 1st in China and 5th in Asia for Education and Educational Philosophy and Theory (AD Scientific Index, 2023). He is also ranked in the World’s Top 2% of Scientists by Stanford University. His recent works includes two books on the apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic philosophy to be published in 2024.