“Community is not just about being in the same place or having the same events to go to – it’s about that ‘feeling of fellowship’ that comes with sharing common interests and goals. The quickest way to achieve a sense of belong, aside from religion (and maybe taking drugs), is shared work.
If you think about it, the structure of academic work does not give us many opportunities to work together on shared goals.”
Last week I announced our new MOOC “How to survive your PhD”. Since then I’ve been overwhelmed by the response, with more than 2600 people signing up in the first week alone, which is far more than I expected! A few people have written to me about how they might use the MOOC to help create a campus based, or online group experience. This got me to thinking about how we do – and don’t – create community for and amongst research students.
There are clearly benefits from being part of an on campus community. If you listen to PhD students talk you might get the idea that poor supervision is the biggest problem, but survey after survey shows that students everywhere think that universities are doing a poor job of creating a sense of community.
At RMIT, where I used to work, students would routinely rate the university…
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