Successful end to a successful year

Yesterday we held the final event in our PDN calender. High fives: spaces for doctorateness was a great success; we had representatives from across the University, as well as some of our external partners. It gave us the space to reflect on the work we’ve all been doing over the year and to celebrate the achievements of those taking part. We were particularly pleased to welcome people from the Faculty of Performance, Media and English, who will soon be joining us in our new, joint faculty.

Following presentations from the PDN team, we had talks from participants in the two schemes: KED and RMI. Mark Walker and Joanna Fursman used the city as a metaphor to tell us about their mentoring partnership; Dee Skinner and Peipei Yu talked about the challenges of moving from a teacher-student relationship to a mentoring one; and Camille Chinneck and Yi Wu told how the coffee vouchers we provided allowed them to keep their mentoring meetings separate from their working space. Apparently, one of the advantages of their partnership was that Camille was able to give Yi tips on how to handle their joint supervisor.

We heard about two KED partnerships. Bushra Zalloom had worked with IE Design evaluating the impact of their rebranding of the University of Birmingham’s Career Network. Bushra wasn’t able to be with us yesterday but recorded her contribution to their presentation given by Mike Farr from IE Design. Geraldine Marshall worked with the Herbert Art Gallery, promoting and curating an exhibition, and told us of the challenges and rewards of working with academics with no design or exhibition experience.

We also had presentations from across the University: Tim Wall from Performance, Media and English, Robert Ashford from Health, and Ian McDonald from Technology, Engineering and the Environment, all told us about their PhD programmes and how they approach doctorateness in ther faculties. Kirsten Forkert and Mohammed Mayouf showed us the serious, and not so serious, things they do at PGRNet. And Mandy French gave a very entertaining talk on how she evolved from a straight, educational researcher to a maverick, postmodern questioner.

The short, pecha-kucha style presentations gave an energised feel to the proceedings, together with some laughs as speakers tried to keep pace with their slides. We ended with a lively discussion around the nature of doctorateness, how it is acquired, and thoughts on where we go from here. Finally, we enjoyed some well-earned drinks and canapés, taking the opportunity to network, chat to friends, and catch up with partners and colleagues we hadn’t seen for a while.

Jacqueline Taylor took lots of photographs, some of which she will shortly publish here, and we used the event as an opportunity to throw out a challenge – to come up with a more exciting name for PDN. Mandy French suggested Community rather than Network, a suggestion we really like, but can you come up with anything better? The prize, generously donated by the PDN team, is a £5 coffee voucher.

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