Tuesday, 15 December 2015

2015 - the year that was


Photo by Jake Givens | unsplash.com
The end of the year can make people retrospective and reflective. They ponder to themselves - and anyone around them - 'where has the year gone, and what on earth did we do with it?'.

The RED team is no exception. This has been a big year for us - here are a few reasons why:
  • It's the first year of the Graduate Research School's existence, and our relocation to the refurbished John Scott Meeting House; 
  • our research education and development sessions over the last year have involved almost 700 researchers across all campuses, from first year higher degree students to professorial staff; and 
  • we've run many types of sessions for the first time and received excellent feedback - and heaps of enthusiasm! - about future offerings and developments. 
I asked my RED team colleagues what their 2015 highlights are, and here's what they said!


For Kelly Farrell: 
For me the highlights of 2015 can be encompassed in one word: community. The RED/GRS Intellectual Climate Fund ignited a veritable bonfire of community-building activities that the very walls of La Trobe seemed to crackle with ideas, while the ECR Conference and #LTUacwrimo's RED Writing Retreat were the icing on the community cake as La Trobe researchers got together to feed off collective energies. 
But the smaller-scale moments also stand out like beacons. The spirit of collegiality, generosity (and courage!) with which my Teaching Ready cohort reviewed each other’s teaching is a wonderful example. Working on research-communication skills with our Agribio-based candidates and witnessing the support and encouragement they showed each other is another of my collegial-community-in-action stand-outs. 
Collegiality, community and generosity are hallmarks of a healthy – and human – research environment that we all benefit from in distinctly practical as well as the warm-and-fuzzy ways. 
Specific highlights? All the graduate researchers and researchers who contributed in RED sessions. The supervisors and Graduate Research Coordinators who said ‘yes’ even though their schedule said ‘no’. The La Trobe colleagues at the Research Office, LTLT, GRS, Careers, Student Learning, Library, Media Unit, Digital Marketing and, of course, RED who helped make our program dynamic and responsive. 2015 has been a great vintage for RED and research at La Trobe.
For Jeanette Fyffe:
2015 has been such a big year at RED that it is hard to pick a single highlight…so I won’t! It was hard, but I’ve settled on these two. 
My first is the Intellectual Climate Fund (ICF), which delivered a huge range of fantastic initiatives across the University. Kelly mentioned it above and it really is worth saying twice! Jointly sponsored by the GRS and the Associate Pro Vice-Chancellors (Research), the ICF saw the launch of several new Graduate Researcher Groups, reading groups, a Theory Salon, masterclasses, workshops and skill exchanges. 
Each of these activities had something in common: a group of enterprising graduate researchers asked the question “what could I do to support my intellectual climate?”, and they took steps to make it happen. The great variety of those activities demonstrates the vibrancy and creativity of the research community at La Trobe.  I can’t wait to see what 2016 brings!
The second highlight for me is the quiet reliability of our weekly Shut Up and Write (SUAW) sessions. A small and dedicated group of researchers and graduate researchers meet each week, on almost every campus, to toil away on their manuscripts in companionable silence interspersed with caffeine-fuelled conviviality.   
In 2015, SUAW has been an incubator and source of support for the production of several theses, plenty of journal articles and book chapters, and a string of abstracts and conference presentations. Though the title doesn’t immediately suggest it, the winning formula for me at SUAW is the collegiality of my fellow writers. Perhaps 'SUAW' should stand for "Shh, Uber Academic Writing"?
For me (Tseen Khoo):
I'd echo the elements Kelly and Jeanette have already flagged, and I'd add a fairly specific highlight that brings me quite a bit of satisfaction.
My highlight will come as no surprise to many of you: it was converting more people to the Dark Side (aka Twitter), and getting several waves of people through the social media workshop clusters. I've had consistently happy - and sometimes ecstatic - feedback about how researchers were feeling much more comfortable with creating and growing their digital connections and profiles, and how they've found great value in finding their peeps online (in terms of their discipline, and nerding out about their hobbies, or finding sympatico co-ranters [very important...]).  
Why am I so happy about this? Well, it's wonderful to have these researchers newly activated online and as constant companions on my Twitter feed. As well, the broader effect of a La Trobe community online, with regional nuances that appear to be going from strength to strength, is brilliant. The fabulous tweetchats during #LTUacwrimo, and the active use of the hashtag, were testament to this.
For now, we wish you all a safe and happy holiday. We look forward to seeing you in a fresh and minty 2016!

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