On identity

14 December 2016

Dr Katerina Kolyva, Executive Director, Council of Deans of Health

As I enter the Council of Deans of Health blogosphere I wanted to start with a piece on a topic, which is very close to my heart: identity. I have occupied several corners of my mind with the study of identity both during my years of academic research and in my strategy and leadership roles.

The beauty of identity as a life topic is that it touches upon so many thinking spaces. From psychology and social anthropology to politics, gender studies and critical theory, identity has been at the heart of debates around forming and storming communities, dealing with conflict and building relationships. One of my favourite stories is Amin Maalouf’s ‘On identity’ which looked at identity as something which is both vertical in terms of the heritage baggage we all carry from our backgrounds and horizontal in terms of how we operate as part of collaborative communities. The key reflection I took away was that identity is about belonging and evolving.

Coming new to the Council, it occurred to me that the organisation’s identity is doing exactly that: it is evolving as the organisation is growing in terms of its size and influence in the wider world and it is creating a great sense of belonging through strategic debates on areas of common interest. Every membership organisation will want to encourage an evolution and growth while it maintains a sense of ‘heimat’ as the home that everyone recognises and refers back to.

As we enter 2017, we celebrate 20 years of our existence, we recognise achievements having reached high strategic influencing quarters on the topic of funding reform and we reflect on new areas of exploration through the Council’s portfolios of research, international, workforce, regulation and teaching and learning.

A final reflection is about the evolution of my own identity. I come from both a passion for higher education in my years in academia and strategy and healthcare in regulation. I have occupied highly intense and busily scrutinised environments based on legislation and process as well as influenced highly controversial agendas. I love making a difference and working with great thinkers. The thinking environment could not be a better Christmas present for me.

Wishing you all the best for the festive season,

Katerina

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