We were delighted to welcome our 2017 cohort last Wednesday with an afternoon event in the Humanities Research Centre at the University of York. Coaches from Leeds and Sheffield brought our new students to York with a little bit of time to spare to start to get to know their fellow WRoCAH members before the event kicked off proper at 3pm.
This was the first event where we were able to use our beautifully re-designed WRoCAH folders which were a colourful way to welcome everyone! Each student also received a 2017 Studentships Handbook which was updated and improved over the summer by one of our 2015 cohort students, Fiona Milne. There was a bit of a tense moment as we were waiting for our 2016/7 Annual Report, delivery of which had been delayed. Boxes started to arrive at 2.30pm and we breathed a collective sigh of relief! It was great to see the new students chatting and having a look at their handbooks and the report. The 2016/7 Annual Report was another student-led publication, put together by 2015 cohort student David Barrow over the summer. Both the handbook and the Annual Report are our two most important publications annually.
At the welcome, new students heard about what WRoCAH expects of them and what they can expect of WRoCAH. Of course new students are interested in what additional funding they can get to support their research and training but we also use the welcome event to give students a sense of what being part of the three-university cohort will mean to them: the opportunity to be together, learn together and think together with other doctoral researchers from across the broadest range of arts and humanities disciplines.
Then everyone had the chance to talk to others working in groups of those in a broadly similar research area, to find out a little about the types of projects others are working on. This exercise really brings hope the breadth of research that is taking place across the College and starts to sow the seeds for potential collaborative student led events in the future. It was exciting to see the buzz and interest everyone had in sharing their research topics and finding out about others. After that, we reconvened in plenary and heard from Phil Pollard from Historic England one of our Partnership Advisory Board members, who talked about the importance of research/non-HEI partnerships in helping external partner organisations drive forward their research agendas and provide outstanding high-level work experience for doctoral researchers where they can apply research skills in entirely different setting.
We rounded the evening off with a celebratory glass of Prosecco and supper at The Kitchen in Alcuin College at York, a relaxed venue where everyone enjoyed just having the chance to chat about how they were settling in and what they were looking forward to over the next three years.
I always feel really uplifted after our whole-cohort events and this one was no exception. I couldn’t have managed the day without the help of Gem Kirk (York Research Student Co-ordinator), Emma Chippendale (Postgradudate Administrator from School of History at Leeds) and Jane Dalton (Researcher Development Specialists from the Research Excellence Training Team at York) – they laid things out, they tidied them away and chipped in where necessary! Gem took some great photos, a selection of which are below. Best of all was seeing the new cohort getting to know each other to the level of comfort of giving out nicknames (‘Question-Mark’, you know who you are!) and Facebooking pics from the pub. Cannot wait for our next event in November which is our first try out of an interesting new venue: Horizon in Leeds.
Caryn Douglas, WRoCAH Manager