Doctoral Study School – concluding reflections
Lincoln Cathedral

Doctoral Study School – concluding reflections

After a stimulating weekend, we have plenty to work with…

There seems to be support for dedicated more structured time to work on the assignments during the schools, perhaps organising module-focused streams for each that can be repeated at each study school. These could take various forms, and people would be able to attend any as they wished; this would allow people to return to particular problematics at different stages of the research process as well.

We agreed that we can make much better use of our own internationality, Interdisciplinarity and location in practice across a wide range of formal and informal education at all levels. We might, for example, organise parallel sessions for colleagues to present on particular dimensions of education in their own contexts, and organise dialogues on comparative themes.

There was also a sense that we should maintain a balance between the encounter with new, inspirational and challenging ideas and research, and allowing proper space and time for working in practice, writing, reviewing, etc. Indeed, the aim should be to combine these in ways that allows us to continually deepen our understandings, make connections between theory and practice and different ideas and contexts, and etc.

  • A key concern here was that we maintain, or create more, time and space for presentation of work in progress, both through the formal defence of work in its advanced stages and more relaxed sessions where we read and/or present short pieces for critical discussion.
  • We agreed that it is very important to invite visiting speakers to introduce new work and ideas, broaden horizons, share expertise – and that we should do this in ways that speak to the needs of our researchers and programmes.
  • It would be helpful to survey the wider group after the summer school, to learn more about particular areas, topics or speakers people may want to invite.
  • Initial suggestions, however, include inviting someone doing interesting work in special needs education; international-comparative studies; non-formal education in prisons and health professions; and on the process of doing doctoral research in informal education.
  • Gradually, it may be possible to create a schedule of invited speakers that responds to or expands research questions emerging within the programme itself.

There were some ideas for communicating between study schools, including:

  • organising interim webinars about, e.g., work on particular assignments or themes of interest arising, which might be supported by the existing discussion forums;
  • creating a library of recordings of talks and other relevant sessions at each of the schools, which could be made public online;
  • designing ways to link the summer schools in Lincoln and Mayo;
  • the distribution/posting of information about relevant events and activities around the country and internationally.

There were also ideas about communicating during the schools themselves; in particular, the importance of having at least one organised social evening where everyone is invited to be together. We should think about how the weekends in particular might be organised to allow more people to stay through the Sunday (i.e., shifting Friday afternoon activities to Sunday and beginning on Saturday morning), though we need to find out how this aligns with flight times and etc.

Many people welcome the addition of student bios and photos online, and encourage their publication as soon as possible, as this will be very useful for letting people know about their work beyond the university.

Blackboard can be useful, but is not terribly accessible or intuitive. Let’s organise whatever we are working with (readings, resources, work being presented, etc.) into coherent online and/or paper packs for each study school, and link these where needed to the library.

It was suggested that in general, we build in spaces for broad student consultations and discussions about the programme itself, general-assembly-style forums to share ideas, debate issues, and etc., to supplement the more formal student representative system. This is particularly important now, as the programme is being developed and some people are working with new supervisors. It was also seen as vital that we maintain professional processes for feedback and participatory programme design; i.e. processes that mitigate its personalisation and that support critical collegial dialogue.

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