Notwithstanding the constraints posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the IEE team took the challenge and organised the long-anticipated in-person first annual meeting of the ADAPTED network. Alongside ensuring that participants observed the SoPs for preventing COVID infection, the team delivered a high-quality virtual mode of participation by supervisors and partners who could not attend the physical meeting. The meeting brought together 15 Early-Stage Researchers (ESRs), their supervisors, key staff of the ADAPTED research network and a representative from the EU.
The IEE is home to four of the 15 ESRs, and below, they share their reflections on the event.
The forum allowed us to present our initial research designs, gather feedback from supervisors, and shape our thinking for the respective projects. We also gained an insight into the coordination of the ADAPTED network. We learnt about the progress, key milestones achieved and plans aimed at helping us to excel at our projects and contribute towards achieving the objectives of the ADAPTED programme.
Before the forum, the ADAPTED network organised a two-day presentation workshop for all the ESRs. We learnt how to make persuasive presentations and presented our initial research ideas to our peers. We gathered invaluable presentation and visualisation skills to be used during the forum. In addition, we in Bochum practised presentations amongst the four of us to ensure clarity of message and time management.
The three-day ADAPTED forum helped us interact with research directors and representatives of the partner organisations. The exchange of ideas also enabled us to shape our research agenda and find possible partnership platforms within the ADAPTED network for our PhD projects.
Following the forum, we attended lecture sessions on politics and governance delivered by Prof. Wil Hout of the Erasmus University Rotterdam and on growth and development by Prof. Wilhelm Löwenstein of the Ruhr Universität Bochum. Both lectures were thought-provoking. Among the many nuggets from Prof. Hout, we learnt that “where you stand depends on where you sit.” Meaning that one’s position in society shapes their ideas and interests. We were challenged to think about how politics and governance relate to our work and the nuances behind “who gets what, when, and how.” From Prof. Lowenstein, we learnt that alleviating absolute poverty does not eliminate income inequality. Still food for thought for the non-economists among us! Both professors emphasised the need to think beyond the “conventional” in interpreting the commonly-agreed perspectives in our respective research fields.
The annual meeting was closed with a career development workshop, which allowed the participants to reflect on their career paths through discussions with peers and the instructors. The activities included presentations, biographical overviews, and appreciative interviews. We had a chance to share our thoughts about our past and future in “safe spaces” through drawings, narration, and walks in picturesque parks near the institute. Over the next few weeks, we will continue to work with the instructors to clarify our career paths.
It wasn’t all work, however! The evenings were well spent with the other ESRs - networking over dinner and enjoying great conversation spanning sports, music, travel and a range of other exciting topics.
We left charged with knowledge, networks and energy to embark on our research projects!