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Slow Scholarship

Starting a conversation about changing our research and education culture

a snail's pace

A short film, created by Ian McDonald, 2020, 10mins.

A challenge to keep up with the snail's pace. A provocation to embrace slow being. 

A documentary...? A film on a snail. With no commentary. No explanations. Nothing to explain. Just observe. An observational wildlife doc! Presenting my first film shot and edited on a smartphone. Filmed handheld. No gimbal or tripod. No additional lens. No external microphone. Simple shots. Straight cuts. Capturing a moment, a movement, a journey. From Trivandrum in Kerala, South India during lockdown (May 2021). When my world shrunk to a house and garden. When time detached itself from the days. When the unnoticed became noticeable. When life calmed down. Like its main protagonist, 'a snail's pace' moves at a snail's pace. Presenting a challenge to the audience to keep pace with the intrepid snail. To slow down.

Dr Ian McDonald is a Documentary Filmmaker and Reader in Film Practice at Newcastle University. He is also the founder of Film@CultureLab, the home of film practice at the University.

A Snail's Pace is his first smartphone documentary. It was nominated for Best Short Documentary at the London International Smartphone Film Festival and has also screened at festivals in the USA and Africa.

Slow Scholarship Series

How can we get off the academic treadmill and do things differently? How can we recover the time to think in a busy week, and the joy of doing longer, deeper, slower research? The pandemic may have been defined by the unprecedented imperative to expedite scientific research and development, but it has also presented new, longer-term societal challenges that require slow, deep and lateral thought.

Slow scholarship is an approach that values a more fluid and inclusive temporality. It seeks to create unmetered spaces for new ideas to emerge and grow. To this effect, it embraces methodological approaches such as productive digression, playful provocation, fruitful pause, thoughtful indecision, care and intellectual disobedience. Collaboration with partners and across disciplines is at the heart of slow research. Slow scholarship values both a situated and participatory approach, based on public engagement, alongside transnational perspectives that bring into account a multiplicity of knowledge systems.

Please join us as we continue our conversation around what we want to change about our culture of research and education, and how we can go about making changes.


Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences