Passion for page, print and paint

August 19, 2005

Name: Erik Borg

Age: 59

Job: senior lecturer, English language centre, Northumbria University

Salary: senior lecturer scale

What is your background? Undergraduate education in literature at Middlebury College, in Vermont, US, and at the University of Chicago. Like many literature majors, I changed direction and became a freelance photographer. For 25 years I photographed people for magazines, and architecture and artworks for artists. Life changes, and I returned to my roots to teach English in China. I loved teaching English as a foreign language, but I felt I needed to learn more about it. I decided to combine that with learning a new language (British!), so I came to Leeds University for an MEd teaching English to speakers of other languages. I am currently doing a PhD investigating the role of writing in fine arts practice and design.

What are your working hours? Variable, depending on the time of year. But one thing is constant - admin - and that always takes too much time.

Who are your students? I'm programme leader on our new pre-masters course, which prepares overseas students for postgraduate study. I also teach students on our MA applied linguistics how to investigate and teach writing and literacy.

What has been your biggest challenge? Doing a part-time PhD while having a full-time job.

How did you solve it? I have terrific supervisors - Mike Baynham and Alice Deignan at Leeds - and the participants in my study at Northumbria are enormously supportive and generous. They're doing fascinating work and letting me into their thoughts and lives. That engagement keeps me going.

What is your office like? Overheated in summer, chilly in winter.

What university facilities do you use? Doing a PhD means that you use the library more than anything else, but I also get into the new university gallery as often as I can.

Do you socialise with people at the university? I see some colleagues socially, and some of us usually get together at our local after research seminars.

Do you interact much with other departments? Obviously I do for my PhD, but also because knowing about writing in other disciplines is central to my job. For example, I did a small research project looking at lecturers' experiences of plagiarism across the university. I found lots of problems but some innovative solutions, too.

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