With coronavirus impacting so many parts of academic life, MA and PhD supervision has unsurprisingly taken on different shapes or forms during the pandemic. This has, in most cases, meant a shift to online meetings using various combinations of programmes and platforms to facilitate video and voice calls. Of course, some supervisor-student teams already used such methods, but for many of us this has replaced the face-to-face office (or even cafe-based) meeting, typical for supervision. This time has also brought-about many challenges for students, personal and professional, which have been well documented.
In light of these changes, myself and PhD student Cameron Byron (@ccameronbyron) set about to trial a Reading Group (we called it a group, but really it was just the two of us) as a way to keep our hand-in with research-based academic work at a time when it was difficult to do our own research (due to issues of access, time, and even energy and momentum). At first, we planned to simply meet to chat about new and interesting papers simply as a way to check-in, as and when it was convenient. But it soon became a weekly staple: a way of meeting without the pressure of always expecting PhD ‘progress’ (however that might be defined) and as a way of engaging with work in our discipline and ‘networking’ and meeting other scholars and disciplinary colleagues (via sharing our reading of papers on social media) at a time when this has been more difficult with conference, seminar and other event cancellations.
Soon our ‘Group’ expanded to include MA student Ella Bytheway-Jackson (@ellabtwjackson), who will be following on to a PhD using the same archive repository as Cameron (more news on their work to follow!) Each week we pick a paper – something that catches of one of our eyes – typically newly or recently published, connected to our work but also, sometimes, something that just looks fascinating.
As our Group reaches its 20th ‘lockdown’ week, and ahead of a summer break in our meetings, we wanted to share our ‘Greatest Hits’ and wholeheartedly thank the authors of the papers we have read for allowing us to engage with different geographical worlds – spaces, places, times, people – as well as theories and debates in their work. I realise this kind of meeting isn’t always possible for all supervisors, all students. I certainly don’t hold our group up as a ‘model’ for pandemic supervision. Rather, this post is a way to share what we have done, and mostly, what Cameron and Ella have done. You are both inspirational! You can access the papers we have read here, where we also provide abstract details from each paper, and a link to the webpage of each article.
During the middle of lockdown I received an email from the RGS (with IBG). It simply said, “Dear Dr Peters, a letter from the RGS”. I assumed it was something pandemic- or membership-related. It was a letter saying I’d been awarded the Gill Memorial Prize for outstanding early career work in Geography!
More information about the award is available here (in English and German), alongside news about other recipients of 2020 medals and awards: