This Presidential Address will examine what it means to be an educational researcher in the current Australian, and global, political climate. In particular it will consider notions of ‘impact’ and ‘engagement’ and what that might mean for those educational researchers concerned with social justice issues, both in terms of their own research and in being a member of an academic community. The presentation draws heavily on the work of Levitas (Utopia as Method, 2013) and Wright (Envisioning Real Utopias, 2010). It will unpack the ‘utopias’ envisaged by current educational policy discourses. The address will then argue that in the process of promoting a more socially just agenda there is no alternative but to look for alternative ways of doing educational research. It concludes by considering alternative contexts in which education is located and of being an educational researcher in these spaces. In regards to the latter the address suggests that associations such as AARE provide opportunities to envisage what academic life could look like for educational researchers in a ‘realistic utopia’ – one in which they demand the impossible.