Successful Second Edition of the IMISCOE PhD Workshop

23 August 2016

The IMISCOE PhD Network forms a network of actively engaged PhD students within the IMISCOE network. This blog is one of the projects of the PhD Network, furthermore the network organizes an annual workshop at the IMISCOE conference.

This year the second edition was organized, focused on skills particularly relevant to the PhD trajectory, varying from sessions for PhD’s in their initial and more advanced stages, and session on publishing and teaching. Read more about the PhD workshop and the teaching session below.

The idea for skills-based workshop originated from the very notion upon which the PhD network is based: to bring PhD’s studying in the fields of international migration, integration and social cohesion together to see how we can help each other. We as workshop organizers took this idea to the next level. If the network exists to help PhD’s with their ambitions, problems and concerns, why not let the workshop address those issues explicitly? And moreover, since the network is very much an organization by PhD’s for PhD’s, why not give the workshop an interactive character, providing a platform for the participants to share their thoughts and experiences with their fellows? These were the tenets upon which we organized the workshop. Although most sessions were coordinated by the guest-speakers, a great deal of room was reserved for the participants themselves to actively reflect on the given topic. Indeed, the title of speaker does not truly reflect their role and contribution, which was to channel the discussion rather than dictate it. As such, the PhD’s themselves formed the main body of each session, an approach that was highly successful and very well received.

In the session for PhD’s in the advanced stages of their project, coordinated by Valentina Mazzucato, for example four main topics were jointly formulated. Each topic was assigned a chair, and all other participants were divided into four groups. Although each group highlighted unique points, it quickly became apparent that most PhD’s faced similar obstacles and concerns throughout their project. For instance, many participants highlighted feelings of uncertainty regarding their professional career after the PhD, or the ‘correct’ ways of applying for and receiving funding. The fact that most topics resonated strongly with the entire group meant that all the participants had already given them some thought, providing fuel for heated discussion.

The session functioned as a platform for the circulation of ideas amongst the PhD’s, occasionally complemented by the particular experience of the speaker. Although many interesting insights came to the fore, part of the value of the session definitely lay in the simple realization among participants that they were not alone in their worries and uncertainties. The PhD trajectory is an inherently individualistic exercise in doing research and as such, we are at a constant risk of feeling isolated. The IMISCOE PhD network exists partly to tackle that isolation, and it was heartening to see this ambition taking form during this particular session, and the workshop as a whole.

The enthusiasm underlying the workshop sessions was echoed in the PhD assembly, which took place after the workshop. In spite of the limited time available to discuss the organizational aspect of the PhD network, a lot of important and helpful suggestions were raised to reinforce the existing structures, and develop new ones. Furthermore, many PhD’s present expressed their willingness to actively contribute to these goals. Certainly, the pro-active and passionate disposition of the PhD’s in the network is crucial to support the continued growth of the network, its ability to use the facilities and resources of IMISCOE, and actively represent the needs and ambitions of its members.

All in all, the second edition of the PhD workshop was a great success, leaving us highly anticipated for the third installment at the IMISCOE conference 2017 in Rotterdam!


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