Category: Musings

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I Went On Woman’s Hour, But Where Did My She-Hulk Go?!

On 11 November 2016, Mary Moreland and I launched the Heritage Lottery Funded project War Widows’ Stories live on Woman’s Hour. We were given eight star-struck minutes with BBC Radio 4’s Jenni Murray, and you can listen to the result on BBC iPlayer. It’s needless to say I was so excited about being able to do this. It meant our project was given national coverage on Armistice Day, a time when the nation is focused on remembrance of the dead, but often forgets about our duty to take care of those who survive conflict, including veterans and families. From...

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[Commentary] Thoughts, Fears, & Brexit

I was invited to write this piece for the Times Higher Education blog, where it was originally published on 26 June 2016 under the title “‘I’m scared’: German academic in the UK on the Brexit vote”. You can read the original post here, and it is reproduced word for word, without alterations, below.  I am an immigrant. Moving to the UK was a dream of mine ever since I can remember. England was, after all, home to bands like The Clash and The Vibrators, and this was as good a reason as any for a teenager to determine that her...

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How Do I Look? When Fear Interferes

This week I got to be in my first ever film: a four-minute epic about Victorian widows, made for BBC Arts as part of the AHRC/ BBC Radio 3 New Generation Thinkers scheme …

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Keep Calm & Take Time Off: Being Ill at Work

When you’re ill, do you keep calm and carry on, or do you keep calm and take time off? I’ve just come to the end of two weeks sick leave. Shingles seriously knocked me out, even though I noticed it and got anti-viral medication on the very first day the rash appeared. It was the first time in my life that I’ve had to take sick leave for more than a day, and this, alongside my line manager’s kind encouragement to not come back until I was definitely better and pain-free, got me thinking. How many days had I spent...

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Being a Good PhD Supervisor: A Fine Art or Plain & Simple?

I’ve been thinking for a while about writing a post on my relatively quick transition from PhD student to PhD supervisor, mainly to reflect on what is important to me regarding my new responsibilities and based on my own and my peers’ experiences, but also to think more generally about what the common problems in supervisory relationships are, and what makes for a good supervisor. That’s not what this post is, however. Rather, it’s something of a precursor, prompted by a slideshow I found this morning that presents the findings of a study on what Phd students really...

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Supporting Student Wellbeing in Higher Education: Why & How

This post reflects on the issues surrounding supporting students’ wellbeing, especially academic workload, the unequal division of emotional labour, and the lack of appropriate training for those involved in pastoral care. It also offers five main strategies that can help support your students’ wellbeing and provide good pastoral care.

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Social Media Skills for Students

Social Media Skills for Students is a new resource to help university students learn how to use social media to their advantage and in a professional manner.

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The Blank Page: Some Writing Strategies

This post is dedicated to the intimidating blank space that is the first page of the yet untitled document which, at some point in time, is supposed to contain a well-argued, thoroughly researched, and original argument to stun your expecting reader. I’ve never been one of those people who is blessed with the ability to sit down, create a new document, and start typing the first draft of a research publication with the confident knowledge that once the words are on the page I can return to them as many times as I like to edit and refine. Instead, it takes...

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PhD Picnics: Food for Thought

PhD Picnics is an initiative which encourages exchange between postgraduate students and research staff to provide a supportive, stimulating postgraduate culture and adequate academic skills training and development.

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Wheels & Trainers: Sport & Academic Work-Life Balance

I think that, even in Britain, it’s now fair to say that it’s summer! And with the summer comes my usually busiest and best training and exercise period, not just because of the weather but also because I spend less time on commuting and being in the classroom. There are four main types of exercise that dominate my sporting life: road cycling, trail running, walking, and free-weights training at the gym. I’ve already talked about the general benefits of exercise to my mental health and to my work-life balance and productivity, but as my training volume increases and...

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The Road Not Taken: PhD Training, Academia & Alternative Careers

Perhaps rather predictably the poem from which this post takes its title, Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” (1920), tells of a traveller’s decision to walk one road in favour of another when he encounters two divergent paths on his way. He tries to predict, as far as possible from his position, where each may lead. Conscious that his choice comes with unpredictable implications, he is aware also that, once his decision is made, he most likely won’t return to explore “the road not taken”. We are told that the choice he made that day “made all the...

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Academia & Social Media: Practices, Politics, Problems

This post is both a continuation of my previous thoughts on social media in academia, and the product of several workshops and talks I’ve been asked to give on the topic this past year. Most notably, it is a response to and follow-up from a presentation and spirited discussion on social media at an impressive postgraduate conference at the University of Nottingham this month, Homeward Bound: Nation, Belonging and the American Home, and on the first day of the year it seems fitting to reflect on 2013 with a sketch of some of the concerns and questions I’ve...

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