Calling All Researchers! UofG's New PhD Society, Just for You
The University of Glasgow offers societies for nearly everything. From photography and Jane Austen to languages and sports, UofG’s got it. Surprisingly, though, there was no society specifically for non-undergraduate students. Until now.
UofG PhD researchers David Peters, Liisi Karjus and Elisabeth Loose founded a new PhD society this past summer in hopes that it would foster a closer community among University of Glasgow research students throughout various fields. David is in his third year of PhD work at UofG’s School of Interdisciplinary Studies and I recently had the opportunity to ask him a few questions about the society and what he hopes to see for its future.
Who came up with the idea to start a PhD society and why?
In large part I did, but I talked with two friends, Liisi Karjus and Elisabeth Loose, who thought it was a good idea and had also been toying with the idea. They’ve put in a lot of work getting the society off the ground.
The main need we all saw was researchers’ wellbeing centred around a need for community. A research degree can be very isolating and opportunities to meet people and form a community seem to be few and far between for researchers, with university societies mainly catering to undergrads. Furthermore, we don’t have shared courses that create natural opportunities to meet people in the same program, much less people from different schools.
What was the initial response from students and staff?
We had about 60 people at the first meeting and everyone I’ve talked to has also seen the need for the society and are interested. We’ve also had some good initial support from many of the colleges and schools. The SRC has been really helpful and encouraging through the process as well. So the interest is there, it’s just the time and energy to build the momentum and really get it off the ground.
What has been the most difficult aspect of starting the society thus far? The most exciting?
The most difficult part is that everyone is busy and starting a society requires a lot of work, much of which you don’t see until you actually start. Also, because everyone is already overburdened with their own work, it’s hard coordinating times and events. This society can’t really move forward without internal support from and involvement of the members. That being said, we hope that if enough people want to get involved and are motivated, we can spread out the workload a bit. Luckily, everyone has been self-motivated and full of great ideas!
The exciting part is feeling like I’m making a difference for others. I think many researchers also want to feel like their work is making a difference, but it’s hard to hold on to that motivation when you spend your days in the library reading articles and books. So if I can do something to make it a wee bit easier for someone else, that’s worth it to me.
What are your hopes for the future of the society?
My hope is that the society grows and becomes a major player in improving the PhD/research experience. Whether that’s opportunities to make friends, events that help improve PGR wellbeing, or creating a sense of solidarity in the research community that will help them change the structures that impact their experience the most (and often create the greatest negative impacts to their wellbeing).
I also hope that the society will work as a support network with some recurring events, but also as an organization that helps launch people’s ideas. That way, if you have an idea you also have a group of people to point you in the right direction, get the word out, and help you pull it off. In addition, I hope it provides a space for people to relax and have a laugh, to remember to not take life too seriously, and to enjoy this season of their lives while they’re in it.
Is there anything else you would like to say to students curious about the society?
Come along to an event! If you have an idea or want to help with one, or if you just want to have a pint and meet some new people, we’d love to have you!