A Note from the Director of the Graduate School
Since becoming Director of the ESSL Graduate School in summer 2016 I have been hugely impressed by the commitment, professionalism and passion that you, our community of postgraduate researchers (PGRs), show consistently towards your studies. It has also become increasingly clear to me what a vital part you play in the intellectual life and research culture of the Faculty, for instance, by contributing significantly to the wide range of research-related events that we host.
This is a key message that I emphasise to colleagues in the various committees that I attend as a part of this role. Indeed, for me, a vibrant, committed and engaged community of PGRs both reflects and drives our ambitions to deliver research excellence in all that we do.
The recent ESSL Graduate School conference reinforced this view for me. The conference brought together PGRs from across the Faculty to discuss their work and share their research experiences and ideas in a very supportive setting. As I reflected on the day, a range of benefits were apparent, but just to pick up on two of these.
First, the conference illustrated the range of disciplinary perspectives evident among PGRs in the Graduate School. Hearing first-hand how these are applied within a wide array of postgraduate research studies seemed to me to be inherently valuable. It has become increasingly recognised that interdisciplinary approaches to research offer opportunities to generate insights that extend beyond those of single-discipline research. And if we are to develop meaningful interdisciplinary lines of inquiry, then we can only benefit from being exposed to the ways that other social science researchers think about and attend to research questions.
Second, I was struck by the sense of collegiality and congeniality that was very evident in the room. This was, for me, very pleasing indeed. We try very hard across the Faculty to make sure that you are provided with the very best support possible; and I consider peer-group support to be a crucial aspect of this. No one studying for a research degree should feel that they only have their supervisor to turn to for support. Seeing the generous encouragement that delegates gave to each other throughout the day affirmed my belief in this – and I for one will endeavour to keep doing as much as I can to help you to help each other! Here's to an even bigger and better conference next year!