PhD Summer School Paris 2018

Issue 43: Sociology Beyond Europe Mon 15 Jul 2019 0

Nilay Cabuk Kaya, ESA PhD Summer School Director 2018

I found it very useful, and also thank you for providing the opportunity of the Summer School in the first place

The ESA PhD Summer School has a long tradition. This annual event is strongly supported among PhD students. In 2018, the PhD Summer School was held in Paris.

The focus of the 2018 Summer School’s call was “Reinventing sociology in uncertain times: Sociological research and writing in the 21st century”, for which 75 PhD students applied. Via a review process conducted by the ESA Executive PhD committee, 25 of the applications were selected.

The content of this Summer School was organised mainly around the preparation of papers for publication. The main purpose of the Paris Summer School was to work with draft papers, so that it was mostly group work for two days. This was complemented by two lectures and a media session. Our ‘Publishing and Career Planning’ lecture was given by ESA President Sue Scott and the lecture ‘In Simple Words About Your Complicated Research’ by Katrin Tiidenberg (read her piece in this issue of The European Sociologist). Katrin also conducted the media session.

The students involved in this programme were organised into two parallel group work streams, each with three sessions within the two-day programme. The tutors for each group acted as chair and discussant. In each session, there was a student discussant for each paper as well as the tutor. Ideas and suggestions by other participants were also received, so that the paper presenters were given detailed feedback on their work. The written papers prepared by the students had been previously sent to the teachers and other students for review. In this Summer School, all PhD students were assigned as discussants, they were provided with instructions for reviewing and their feedback played a central role in the workshops. This method, based on feedback from earlier Summer Schools, was highly appreciated by the participants and proved to be very efficient. The students were very pleased to be involved in this way, and to comment on their peers’ research.

Another event in the programme was the media session on ‘Public facing scholarship and media literacy’ which was organised with the purpose of improving the skills of these career young scholars to engage in public discussions and communication via media platforms. The session had a lecture on the techniques scholars successfully use, as well as examples of failures in public facing scholarship. The session continued in groups where assignments were discussed.

In addition, the Summer School also contributed to the socialisation, networking and membership of the participants. The students were happy to spend time together and to get to know each other. So the Summer School can be considered a success, both by tutors and PhD students.

The feedback from the students was good: “I’ve been to [it] and it was such a wonderful experience. I gained so much from it, both professionally and personally, and hope it is something the ESA will continue to run for students in future. In terms of working on our papers, it was hugely valuable to get feedback from a range of people with different perspectives. However, I also found it really uplifting just getting to know other PhD students, to share our experiences, and the troubles, frustrations and joys of doing a PhD. It was motivating, and reminded me how much I love being in academia. I thought the programme was incredibly generous and I think it’s something we will remember throughout our careers. Many of us have kept in touch through Facebook!”