We have a bonus post this week; a farewell from SGSAH Director Jude on her last day in the post. Doing a PhD can be pretty scary at times, but if you are lucky enough to have people like Jude helping you through it, the PhD experience becomes much less scary and much more enjoyable. Good luck in your new job Jude, and thanks for all the amazing opportunities you have given us. You will be missed!
Well here it is – my Last Day as Director of the Scottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities. I am finding it a bit hard to believe that three years ago there wasn’t a SGSAH, and now some of our first funded cohort have already submitted their theses and are applying for jobs. (Don’t worry, they were already in second year when they got funding.)
Lucie asked me if I would do a short final blog, so I’ve been rootling around the SGSAH photo archives to see what I can come up with. A few things came to mind:
The PhD can be a lonely place, particularly for researchers in the arts and humanities. Along with your own HEIs, SGSAH tries hard to provide you with opportunities to get together and share thoughts, ideas, worries, and cake. I would urge you as hard as I can to take up those opportunities and to extend your networks as far as you can whilst you are studying. My own experience in this job has been that I’ve been reconnecting with people I haven’t seen for years, because now we have the chance to work together on something that interests us both. And fortuitously our Summer School is now open for registration so just by clicking HERE you can get started on making new connections.
Secondly: stray off the beaten path.
I’ve heard lots of students say ‘Oh, it’s not really relevant to my research’. I’ve also heard lots more say ‘I didn’t think it was really relevant but I got so much out of it.’ People get bogged down with PhD guilt and become convinced that if they aren’t spending every waking second thinking about their research they will FAIL. My experience has been that it’s never a waste of time to go to something that at first glance might seem distant from your own comfort zone. I once ended up on a working group looking at Scottish hill sheep farming and learned new techniques for thinking about the future. Quite apart from giving you something else to talk about, for which your friends/relatives/pets/children might be grateful, seeing things through another disciplinary perspective can be extraordinarily helpful to your own thinking. So, consider doing things just because they look interesting, not because they will necessarily be a perfect fit for your current research.
Thirdly I’d like to thank my colleagues – firstly Dee, who dreamed SGSAH into being and has led it with such humour and integrity. Her absolute commitment is an inspiration and I’ve learned a huge amount working with her.
And the brilliant SGSAH team, who go above and beyond to make sure that SGSAH genuinely lives up to the values we all agreed at the start: trust, integrity, creativity, positivity and partnership. I will miss you all very much more than I can say without getting over-emotional.
And finally thanks to you, the SGSAH students. I have so much enjoyed working with you and hearing about your research, and wish you all the very best for the rest of your studies and whatever comes next. I’m delighted that so many of you have done SGSAH courses, internships, artist-in-residencies and workshops, and hope that what you have learned with us continues to be useful. I can’t wait to hear what you are all doing next so do stay in touch with each other and with SGSAH. In the meantime, hang in there and don’t forget to stop and smell the flowers occasionally.