Dr Catherine Harper was Head of the School of Architecture and Design at the University of Brighton, leading c.1050 UG/PG students and c.80 FTE staff, and managing an academic portfolio of design courses in textiles, fashion, 3D and materials practice; interior design and sustainable design; professional architecture (ARB/RIBA Parts 1,2 and 3); interior architecture and urban studies.

As a member of the university’s Faculty of Arts Management Team, Catherine played a key role in the Faculty’s RAE 2008 preparation and submission, and chaired the Faculty Curatorial Steering Group. She was a member of university committees concerned with academic standards; academic development; research strategy; and learning and teaching, and she also served on a number of university working groups to evolve best practice in: staff development review processes; institutional academic portfolio review; QAA audit; and academic leadership. In these engagements, she drew on her considerable experience of academic and research leadership and management in Higher Education and her advanced professional practice, consultancy and peer-review experience in the public arts, healthcare and publishing sectors.

Catherine’s Higher Education roles have included • Readership and Research Coordination, University for the Creative Arts; • Academic Coordination, Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts, London; • Research Bursary Awardee (3 years), Goldsmiths College, University of London; • Artist-in-Residence (1 year), Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; • Engineering Composites Group Researcher (3 years), Ford Motors/University of Ulster, Belfast.

A Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts (RSA) and the Higher Education Academy (HEA), she is also a Fellow of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust. Memberships associated with her role and discipline include SCHOSA (Standing Conference of Heads of Schools of Architecture), IFFTI (International Foundation of Fashion & Technology Institutes), the Design Research Society and the European Textile Network.

A member of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Peer Review College and an Arts Council of England Artistic Advisor, Catherine has also gained significant research review experience through PhD examinations at Royal College of Art; University of Technology, Sydney; Anglia Ruskin University; Grays School of Art, Aberdeen and Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden. External examiner and subject advisor appointments at Glasgow School of Art (Chief), Norwich University College of the Arts, University of Dundee and University of the Arts, London (Chelsea) have provided key insights into the diversity of QA practices in the UK.

As Editor of Textile: the Journal of Cloth and Culture (Berg) and Editorial Board member of the International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education (Taylor & Francis), further valuable peer review work has supplemented that gained directly in the HE academy.

Currently Lead Academic for a £127k Technology Strategy Board Knowledge Transfer Project (KTP), Catherine oversees all research funding secured by staff within the School from minor awards to the Brighton-led ERDF/Interreg IFORE project (Project Leader: Professor Mike McEvoy, 2010-14, 6.3M euros). Catherine has raised £200k of personal research funding from sources including the Sasakawa Foundation, AHRC, Arts Councils of both England and Northern Ireland and the Bass Ireland Main Award, and she is currently championing a major fund-raising drive for £300k to support the reconstruction of The House the Kevin Built, an A+ energy performance eco-house designed by Faculty Business Investment Fellow, Duncan Baker-Brown, and built in six days as part of Channel 4’s Grand Designs Live programme, presented by Kevin McCloud.

Catherine received a 1st Class (Hons) in Constructed Textiles from University of Ulster, Belfast, subsequently gaining a PG Diploma  (Commended) in Art and Design and a PhD (without amendments) at that institution. Her practice-based doctorate was funded by Ford Motors, with Dr Brian Hill and Professor Robert McIlhagger as Supervisor and Advisor respectively, and focused on the construction of three-dimensional woven glass, carbon and Kevlar fibre components for automotive and engineering composites, with particular emphasis on the impact of yarn type and structural bifurcation on flexural rigidity and tensile strength.

Post-PhD, Catherine gained an MA in Textiles from Goldsmiths’ College, University of London, and securing three year funding from that institution for a second doctorate on textile performativity and desire. Having completed four years of this study under Professor Janis Jefferies and Dr Janet Hand, Catherine elected to conclude her research as a book rather than a doctoral thesis, and the resultant text (Intersex Berg, 2007) was reviewed thus:

Ultimately, this is an exceptional book for an audience that could desperately use an informed, sympathetic, and understanding voice. If I knew someone who was struggling with their intersex condition or someone who wanted to know how others have experienced and dealt with their intersex condition, Catherine Harper’s Intersex would be at the top of my list of recommended readings. 

Hartlaub, M.G. (2009) Living Between the Binary: A Review of ‘Intersex’ by Catherine Harper. Journal of Sex Research 46:5, 509-510. 

A textiles practitioner by training, who has also specialised in realising large-scale public site commissions, and undertaking speculative exhibition work and performance, Catherine is currently working on a second solo-authored book – Fabrics of Desire (Berg), as well as solo-editing the four-volume 800,000 word Textiles: Primary and Critical Sources (Berg’s parallel work for their 2009 Fashion version).

A founder member of the University of Brighton LGBT Queer Life Research Hub, she is on the organizing committee of the Lesbian Lives: Revolting: Bodies, Politics & Genders conference, University of Brighton in collaboration with University College, Dublin (February 2011). Awarded a University of Brighton Research Sabbatical (2010-11), she awaits the outcome of a £480k AHRC bid (with Dr Kath Browne and Irmi Karl, University of Brighton) titled Double Dresses for Double Brides: the ‘novel sartorial conventions’ of female civil partnerships in the UK.

Sitting on the international Fashion in Fiction committee, she will lead preparations for the 4th Fashion in Fiction: Smart and Sustainable Narratives conference, which will be hosted by the Faculty of Arts, University of Brighton, in 2014.

Dr Catherine Harper remains committed to a career that allows her to make a meaningful contribution to research in her discipline and community of practice, while at the same time growing her experience of and reputation in quality assurance and enhancement, academic development, governance and standards, strategic institutional management and effective leadership in Higher Education. To the latter end, she is currently taking part in the Council for Higher Education in Art & Design (CHEAD) Leadership Development Programme, which began in 2010.