De-colonizing: emphasizing the universality of the university

In this post, Dooshima Lilian Dugguh reflects on the De-Colonizing: Past and Present Workshop held on 13 May 2019 in the College of Arts and Law. This two-day multi-disciplinary workshop examined de-colonization in relation to both research and school curricula.

Reading the workshop title “De-colonizing: past and present”, I am sure that several participants had a rough guess that it was centered around discussing historical realities of colonized nations. But I am also certain that many, like me, were amazed at the understanding that beyond the initial idea is a whole new perspective that exports the concept of de-colonization and applies it to academic endeavors such as impactful research and development of academic curricula, giving an opportunity to rethink research and taught patterns of university courses. This workshop underlined two very important aspects: de-colonizing research and de-colonizing curricula.

De-colonizing asks us to examine assumptions regarding racial and civilizational hierarchy which in the past informed a lot of thinking about how the world worked, what was worth studying in it, and how it should be studied.  SOAS blog

Continue reading “De-colonizing: emphasizing the universality of the university”

What is Enterprise and why is it in the RDF?

In this post, the University Graduate School’s Entrepreneurial Development Officer, Katie Hoare, introduces “enterprise” and her role in supporting you to develop enterprise skills.

There is often confusion around the term enterprise.  It is sometimes used interchangeably with entrepreneurship and so has connotations of starting a business.  But enterprise simply refers to the generation and application of ideas to address practical situations (QAA definitions).

Ent role wordcloudEnterprise sits within the Engagement, Influence and Impact domain, however enterprise skills feature in all four sections of the RDF.  Enterprise isn’t a stand-alone skill you can develop in isolation, it requires a whole host of competencies and attributes.  In fact I have identified 38 descriptors within the RDF which relate to enterprise.

This is not bad news.  It does not necessarily mean enterprise is a more difficult skill to develop.  On the contrary it means that whilst developing your enterprise skills you are simultaneously acquiring many other abilities.  It also means that you are already half-way there to becoming more enterprising… Continue reading “What is Enterprise and why is it in the RDF?”

Learning to teach (or teaching to learn?)

There was a time when teaching in Higher Education (HE) was treated as a bit of a necessary evil, and no doubt all of us have sat through some execrable lectures and seminars in our time.  That time is (thankfully!) behind us, and there is currently a strong focus on professionalism in teaching that fosters an excellent learning experience for students.  The Higher Education Academy (HEA) have developed a UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) and professional recognition for teaching in HE, widely used in the sector.

PGRs are an extremely important part of learning and teaching at the University of Birmingham, and many of you get involved in teaching activities across the institution.  As well as being a very rewarding activity and providing much-needed cash, those PGRs hoping to follow an academic career path will find teaching experience essential for their CV.

Continue reading “Learning to teach (or teaching to learn?)”

The Pure Research Information System is now available to all PhD researchers…

In this blog post Sam King from the Planning Office talks about the benefits of using Pure (Publication and Research)…

What is Pure and why should we use it?

Pure is a Research Information Management System and is the institutional Research Repository used by the University of Birmingham. Whilst the majority of records added to Pure are publications, Pure can also be used to record information about your research activities and can even be used to publish datasets.

If you want to plan for your academic career, Pure is an excellent tool to start collecting together your research activities in one place.

Continue reading “The Pure Research Information System is now available to all PhD researchers…”

Turn your research into a course!

Carol Gray, a doctoral researcher at Birmingham Law School,  shares her experience with us on designing online courses…

“To teach is to learn twice”, as the saying goes.

Have you ever found yourself explaining your research to other people, then wondering how much they have taken in? Ever been tempted to set them a quick quiz to test this? (Okay, that’s probably going a bit too far….)

What about your key stakeholders or colleagues? Wouldn’t it be good to share your results with them in a format that allows the learning to count as Continuing Professional Development (CPD)? Many professionals are now required to complete a certain number of hours of CPD per year, and this can be a powerful recruitment tool for short courses.

So, why don’t you think about turning your research topic into an on-line learning module? On-line learning has become a hugely popular form of learning, either on its own or mixed with face-to-face sessions as “blended learning.” Continue reading “Turn your research into a course!”

Public Engagement with Research: The Personal Development Holy Grail

This week James Walker, a postgraduate researcher in the Centre for Doctoral Training in Fuel Cells and their Fuels in the School of Chemical Engineering, shares his public engagement experience with us…  

Ever been at a party and killed a conversation in ten seconds flat when asked “so, what do you do?” If so, you’re probably also a postgraduate researcher (PGR) – or perhaps a town planner. My heart goes out to my peers who are both! I used to get as far as “oh I’m doing a PhD in Chemical Enginee-,“ before I’d notice the glazing over of the eyes of what had been my audience. “You must be very smart,” they all say, before suddenly needing to nip to the loo. Now I lead with “well I make really tiny renewable energy catalysts and look at atoms using fancy, expensive microscopes that look like weapons in a Bond villain’s arsenal!” Suffice to say, the second response engenders significantly more discussion. The subtle difference is in knowing your audience and tailoring your delivery, I’d say. These are among a crop of new skills that I’ve picked up since becoming heavily involved in public engagement with research and I’m writing this to tell you how you too can revolutionise your personal development simply by talking about the thing that you spend most of your time doing. Convenient eh? Continue reading “Public Engagement with Research: The Personal Development Holy Grail”