I’m personally and professionally a wee bit of a juxtaposition. Personally, I’m somewhere between work boots and a tweed jacket; just as comfortable building a house as an academic argument. Well, that’s not entirely true, I’m a PhD candidate, which means I regularly question my own ability to do most things. Professionally, I think the adjective holds and describes my situation well: my research is fully based in the humanities, while organizationally I’m located in the College of Social Sciences at the University of Glasgow. Which if I’m honest can make things a bit interesting at times.
This unique situation came about because, like me, my thesis is a juxtaposition of disciplines, which led me to the School of Interdisciplinary Studies. My research is a mixture of philosophy, history, and literature flavoured with a bit of law and political science. Specifically, it is about Thomas Reid, a Scottish philosopher, and how that philosophy was used in the foundations of American jurisprudence and thought. For the sake of full disclosure on the subject, I’m an American (my apologies) and on my good days, I have high hopes for the effects my thesis might have on the political… let’s say: ‘situation’, currently in the US and western democracies more generally.
While possibly an unrealistic hope, this comes out of a belief that the subjects taught, researched, and discussed in the arts and humanities are deeply important to the health of a society and the individuals that comprise it. The humanities and arts look at and ask the hard questions, that go to the heart of what it means to be human. I think the research we’re all doing – whether we or society always believes it – is deeply important, especially now. That is why I’m excited to be the resident SGSAH blogger. I want to use my time managing the blog to focus on public engagement. My hope is that this blog can provide a welcoming platform for you to present your research for popular consumption and receive some feedback and encouragement on it from your peers.
I also want to focus on the difficulties we face as postgraduate researchers in the arts and humanities, specifically, mental health. I’m in my second year and many of the conversations I’ve had with other PhD candidates seem to coalesce around mental health, whether it’s the imposter syndrome, loneliness, or just feeling completely lost and overwhelmed. I’m not a mental health professional, but I’ve found that it’s incredibly helpful and empowering to find out you’re not alone in these struggles. I think discussing these issues will strengthen the research community and help improve the PhD experience for ourselves and future researchers.
Don’t worry though, it won’t all be serious. This blog will continue to be a platform to share triumphs, opportunities, advice, stories, and hopefully a laugh or two. Remember this blog is your platform as well, so I’d encourage you to comment on the blog or on twitter, letting me know what you think or what you’d like to hear about. And by all means if you’d like to write a guest post feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org I’m looking forward to hearing from all of you!
We are always seeking new guest bloggers! If you have an idea for a blog post or would like to informally discuss writing for the SGSAH blog please get in touch with David via email at email@example.com or connect with the blog on Twitter