Upcoming Conferences on Europe

A few upcoming conferences may be of interest to GCfE followers:

The first is Imagining Europe: Cultural Models of European Identity, 1814-2014 which will take place on 15 July 2015.

Imagining Europe is the final event in a programme that aims to consider the extent to which alternative politico-cultural imaginings of Europe are influenced by factors including religion, ethnicity and national identity. The last day to book your place for this conference is the 3rd of July and you can find the booking form along with the programme for the day here: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/arts/birtha/events/imagining-europe/conference/

For more information about Imagining Europe please visit: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/arts/birtha/events/imagining-europe/

The second event is the 24th annual conference of the European Reformation Research Group (ERRG) which will take place on the 9-11 September 2015.

The ERRG has been the UK’s principal forum for research into the religious history of early modern Europe. The conference is unthemed and invites papers connected to researchers current work as it relates to European reformations. Papers are particularly welcome from postgraduates and early career researchers, but is also open to established scholars. Abstracts of 200 words for 20 minute papers should be emailed to theerrg@gmail.com by Friday 26 June 2015.

The conference registration form can be found here: ERRG 2015 Registration Form

More information about the ERRG can be found at their new website available here: https://theerrg.wordpress.com/

Newsletter CFP

If you would like to submit a short article for the final issue of the GCfE Newsletter for this academic year you have until Friday to do so. The Newsletter runs 2-3 issues per academic year and alongside publicising our GCfE events also looks to feature short pieces by postgraduates. Submissions might include brief articles about your work or current research in your field, conference and seminar reviews or opinion pieces. Feel free to submit anything from your thoughts about the election results to the upcoming Women’s World Cup. We’d also be willing to run original creative pieces such as poems, cartoons or photography.

Please send your submission to gcfe@contacts.bham.ac.uk by 22 May 2015. Please include your name and any affiliation details (e.g. university, degree, etc) you would like published alongside your piece. You can also request to have your submission printed anonymously.

Past newsletters can be found on our publications tab or on our academic website available here: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/research/activity/gcfe/news/index.aspx.

Call for Papers

The Graduate Centre for Europe publications team has a couple of cfp announcements for our end of year GCfE Newsletter and the Birmingham Journal for Europe.

First, our GCfE Newsletter is open for submissions for short articles on any topic. This can include reports of recent conferences and seminar series, new research and works, collaborative projects, opinion pieces and so forth. The Newsletter would also be happy to run artistic pieces such as original poems, sketches and photography. For the Newsletter submissions do not have to be linked exclusively to European research, although the GCfE always loves to see more topics of this nature. If you would like to submit a short piece for publication within our final newsletter of the 2015/2016 year please email your submission as a Word Document to gcfe@contacts.bham.ac.uk by 22 May 2015. If you have any queries feel free to send those our way as well. Previous versions of our newsletter can be found here: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/research/activity/gcfe/news/index.aspx.

Second, our cfp for the next issue of the Birmingham Journal for Europe is open for article submissions. This issue is accepting articles on any topic relevant to research in Europe. This is an interdisciplinary publication which is peer-reviewed by relevant academics at the University of Birmingham. In previous years this publication has been linked to our conference themes, and articles related to this year’s Dissidence theme or last year’s Travelling Europe theme are certainly welcome as we do not have journal issues on these topics. However, articles touching on other themes, topics and ideas are also encouraged as the journal moves to broaden its scope over the next year. Articles should be approximately 6000 words in length and adhere to the MHRA referencing guide. The full cfp for this issue is available on our publications tab and articles should be submitted no later than 30 November 2015. To see the previous issues of our journal please visit: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/research/activity/gcfe/journal/index.aspx

Finally, if anyone is interested in getting involved with the GCfE committee and/or publications team we are always looking for new members to get involved. The committee organises a series of events and an annual conference and the publications team edits and publishes the journal, a newsletter and this blog. If you would like to get involved please do get in touch. Official positions may be advertised soon, but there is always room for members who would like to participate in the forum without taking on a dedicated role.

Europe Day

The 5th May 2015 is Europe Day, and in coordination with The Europe Direct Information Centre the GCfE would like to invite anyone interested to attend the event at the Library of Birmingham. Europe Day commemorates 9 May 1950, when the then French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman presented his proposal on the creation of an organised Europe, to help maintain peaceful relations between European countries. Known as the ‘Schuman declaration’, this proposal is considered to be the act that created what is now the European Union. This event will be aimed at individuals and businesses in Midlands and will showcase how best to access support and advice on European matters. Partner organisations will also be present for advice, support and networking on European matters.

Two seminars will be taking place during the day.

MEP’s debate: What are we doing for you?
11:00 – Registration.
11:30 – 12:00 – MEPs’ the role of an MEP and how they represent us within Parliament.
12:00 – 12:30 – Q&A session.
This is a unique opportunity for you to put your questions to them and to discuss how best they can represent you within the European Commission.

Business Masterclass – With Simon Topman MBE CEO of J Hudson & Co.
13:00 – Registration.
13:30 – 14:30 – Masterclass.
14:30 – 15:00 – Q&A session.
A former President of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneur in Residence to the Library of Birmingham Business & Learning Team,this is for all new and existing business owners You will get to learn how Simon has developed his business into one of the world’s most popular brands.

For more details and to register please visit: http://www.birmingham-chamber.com/BCCG/Events/EventDetails.aspx?event=4475

GCfE 9th Annual Conference: A Guide to Publishing and Editing

The GCfE roundtable session on publishing featured presentations by Zainab Naqvi, a second year Law PhD candidate and the current Publications Co-Chair for the GCfE; Gail Mobley, a third year English Literature PhD candidate and the Publications Co-Chair for 2013/2014; and Dr Stephen Forcer, a senior lecturer in French Studies at the University of Birmingham and an editor and referee of numerous academic journals. For this session our participants provided background on their individual experiences with publishing and editing and then held a more open floor Q+A style discussion.

Q: The REF

The Research Excellence Framework is the method of assessing the quality of research at higher education institutions in Britain. Although according to Stephen, the REF may find itself exported to other parts of the world sometime in the future. The REF is a points based system, 0-4, and generally to be hired for an academic position today you will want publications scoring a 3 (internationally excellent) with the potential for 4 (groundbreaking). Researchers must submit 4 items to the REF for evaluation, a monograph counts double. So generally speaking academics are submitting 3-4 pieces over 7 years for evaluation.

Q: The value of peer review

Like the REF, peer review ensures the quality of an academic journal article, book chapter or monograph. Having your work peer-reviewed and published in a peer-reviewed collection ensures that standards are in place to measure the suitability of a publication, and that not just anything will be published. It is important to keep in mind who might be peer-reviewing your work when submitting. If your peer-reviewer is a major specialist in your field and your paper doesn’t even mention them this might give them pause, and not just for reasons of vanity. It shows you don’t know enough about relevant researchers in your area, or that you have not done the proper legwork in submitting your paper.

Q: Impact, and does this mean publications?

Publications are the strongest way through which to make an impact within academia, and certainly the key consideration of things like the REF. However, one thing that higher education institutions are increasingly looking for is impact outside of academia. In the Arts and Social Sciences this relates to defending potentially more obscure research. Public engagement activities and social media are other ways in which to ensure your research is relevant and can be pitched to a wider audience. The Research Poster Conference hosted by the University Graduate School annually enables researchers to present their work to a non-specialist audience, providing the opportunity to think about how you would translate your work to an audience outside of your field, and potentially even outside of academia. Social media platforms like Academia.edu, LinkedIn, Twitter and blogs (such as WordPress) provide a platform to get your voice, research and ideas out to a wider audience.

Q: Publication and Post Doc

At the end of your PhD you should have clear intentions about publications/publication opportunities going into a post-doc. Turning your PhD into a monograph is one possible outcome of your studies, and you will need to think about where would be the best place to aim your research. In regards to the publisher you use the REF is not concerned, as they only care about the quality of the work. However, hiring universities will likely weigh where you have published, and not all publishers are considered equal. Hiring departments and what they look for vary. When it comes to interviews for academic positions its also worth keeping in mind that sometimes extra places appear. Even if you know you are interviewing against someone more qualified, with more publications, it doesn’t mean you won’t both get the job. Or that you are actually a better fit for where you interview.

The GCfE committee would like to thank everyone that came along to this session, as well as our speakers, and hope that those of you reading at home find this small snapshot of the session useful. For more about the conference keep an eye out for our next newsletter which should appear near the end of the summer term. See our publications tab for information about our recently opened journal cfp, and check back next week for more information about the journal, the newsletter and another potential Cambridge Scholars Publishing opportunity.

GCfE 9th Annual Conference: How to get the most from your PhD experience

The GCfE has had a bit of a longer holiday than previously planned, but we are still aiming to get updates about our conference onto the blog shortly. For anything that doesn’t make the blog we hope to have featured in the final newsletter of the year. Check back in a few days for a cfp for newsletter articles if you are interested in putting forward a short piece on anything related to Europe, including what’s going on in the UK.

Re-capping the conference in a bit of a reverse order, this post is dedicated to a summary of our second roundtable featuring guests from The University Graduate School, Careers Network and an academic speaker. This session focused on how to tackle the thesis, relationships with supervisors, conference opportunities and how to mentally cope with the pressures of graduate level research.

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Our first speaker was Jim Bell, the Marketing and Events Officer of the University Graduate School. The Graduate School have always been a great support to the GCfE and it was great to have Jim join us for this panel. Jim kicked off the session with his 3 key ideas for how to get the most from your PhD.

1. Start off doing stuff

2. Organisation
-> figure out your motivation, why you’re doing the PhD and your end goal

3. Take ownership of your PhD
-> Don’t just do what your supervisor says, the PhD should be a conversation between you and your supervisor.
-> Be proactive, responsible and self-promoting
-> UGS offers several resources, including inductions and skills sessions
-> You need to decide what you want to take advantage of

Next up was Holly Prescott, who finished her English Literature PhD in 2011 and is currently the Careers Network Postgraduate Liaison with primarily taught students. Prior to this she worked in postgraduate recruitment. Three was a popular number for the panel as Holly also came along having prepared 3 key things. For Holly these were a bit more of abstract ideas than an active to do list.

1. Do not isolate yourself
-> Don’t let your circles get to narrow, especially if you aren’t planning to go into academia
-> keep your career options open
-> Allow yourself different types of models, influences and opportunities

2. Don’t put up too many barriers
-> Take a wide view and don’t limit opportunities to what fits your research

3. Smash your comfort zone
-> PhD offers an independence not available in other parts of life, take advantage.

Our final roundtable participant was Dr Isabelle Hertner, a Politics Lecturer in German. She’s been with the University of Birmingham for 4 years now, and has chaired about 4 or 5 Vivas. Currently she is supervising 4 PhD students, with her first supervised student competing the Viva this past December. As a PhD supervisor it is probably obvious that her first piece of advice was that the PhD must come first, but it’s also a good point to be reminded of. She goes on to say that you need to know what you are doing, but in today’s academic climate the PhD is just not enough anymore. Teaching is a good way too boost the academic CV as well as offers an opportunity to practice your presentation skills. Just remember to not take on too much as, of course, the PhD comes first. PhD candidates will also want to take the opportunity to publish (keep an eye out for our upcoming publishing roundtable post), but within the parameters of your PhD rather than new material which will take a significant amount of time away from your research. Finally, she offered a few comments on the relationship between the supervisor and student. One thing you’ll want to be clear on is the expectations from both the student as well as the supervisor. The relationship is one of time management on both ends.

The roundtable then opened the floor for a bit of Q+A, and this post will conclude with a recap of a few of the most stimulating questions.

Q: How should you approach the Viva?
A: (Jim): UGS used to run a preparation workshop but the feedback was that it wasn’t discipline specific enough so for now there is an online course available to help with preparation, see the UGS course page for details.
(Holly): Distance yourself from the horror stories and just focus on the task at hand. Don’t compare yourself to others and give yourself spatial isolation (e.g. work in a space where you can avoid the noise). Most importantly, keep in mind that this is the only examination that you will ever take that is on a book you wrote. View it as an opportunity to talk in depth with people who have looked closely at your work.
(Nick, GCfE academic adviser): Also keep in mind that you have a choice in your examiners.

Q: Regarding the job market as you are close to submission. You have no publications but are running out of money. Submit or starve, what should you do?
A: (Jim): You have to consider which direction is your end goal, academic or not. (Holly): If it is not academic than take an opportunity to go into that area and gain some experience and potentially an income while finishing.
(Isabelle): If the aim is academic, apply for academic jobs you are qualified for and want to do, e.g. temporary lectureship. Don’t waste your time going for things you aren’t suited to, and look into whether you can start a position before the Viva as some opportunities will offer more flexible start dates.

Q: Thoughts on other activities and responsibilities during the PhD?
(Nick): Do mix with non-PhDs. You want the thesis in and passed as quickly as possible but at the same time you’ll need to have other interests and activities, which will help you to reach the primary goal. (Holly): It is re-invigorating and motivating to have more than your thesis in front of you.

Q: Interview advice?
(Isabelle): Develop and demonstrate skills, e.g. conference organising, managing a budget, etc. (Jim): Interviews, whether academic or not, are about providing evidence that you are qualified, but evidence can come in a variety of different forms.

We hope those of you who made the session found it fun and informative, and that those of you that weren’t able to join us have found this re-cap to be of interest. Of course the GCfE again wants to thank Jim, Holly and Isabelle for taking the time to put together this interesting and useful session.

For more on what the University Graduate School has to offer please visit: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/postgraduate/support/dr/graduateschool/index.aspx

For the Careers Network please visit: https://intranet.birmingham.ac.uk/as/employability/careers/index.aspx

Cambridge Scholars Publishing

Last year the Graduate Centre for Europe publications committee decided to publish a collection of the 8th Annual Conference proceedings with Cambridge Scholars Publishing. The collection enabled our editorial team the chance to work on editing and producing a book, and features the scholarly work of postgraduates across all fields of European studies working in the UK and across Europe.

Travelling Europe

We tweeted about the collection’s release a few weeks ago, but officially decided to publicise the collection in conjunction with our 9th annual conference. Congratulations to all the contributors as well as our hard working editorial team for making this happen.

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Wine Reception

The GCfE committee are considering producing another collection in conjunction with our 9th annual conference theme. If you would be interested in contributing to a collection around the topic of Dissidence in Europe, from the perspective of any discipline, please keep an eye on this space as we will shortly be deciding whether we will go forward with a second publication. The cfp for the next issue of the Birmingham Journal for Europe will also be available soon. BJfE is a peer-reviewed journal run by the GCfE publications team, more information about which can be found on our publications page.

For more information about the Traveling Europe collection, or to order your own copy of the book, please visit: http://www.cambridgescholars.com/travelling-europe

More updates about the 9th Annual Conference, including our keynote and roundtable sessions will be appearing in this space over the next few weeks. We would like to thank all our participants, roundtable speakers, panel chairs and our keynote Jolyon Howorth. The GCfE conference would not be possible without such fantastic contributors. We hope to see many of you back next year for what will be our 10th annual event.

GCfE 9th Annual Conference: Roundtable Discussions

Each year the GCfE Annual Conference hosts a series of skill sessions or roundtable discussions alongside the plenary panels. This year’s conference will feature two roundtables on the second day, A Guide to Publishing and Editing and How to Get the Most from your PhD Experience.

A Guide to Publishing and Editing

Date: 26 March 2016 Venue: 4th Floor West, Muirhead Tower Time: 13:15 – 14:15 This roundtable discussion will be chaired by Zainab Naqvi, Gail Mobley and Dr Stephen Forcer. Zainab is a second year Law PhD candidate and the current Co-Chair (Publications) of the GCfE and as such the Chief Editor of the Birmingham Journal for Europe (BJFE), a peer-reviewed, online postgraudate publication. She is also responsible for overseeing the production of the GCfE Newsletter. Gail is a third year English Literature PhD candidate and was the 2013/2014 Co-Chair (Publications) and currently still works with the GCfE publications team as an Editor and Blog Manager. Stephen is a Senior Lecutrer in French Studies at the University of Birmingham whose general research interests include Dada and Surrealism in French literature and film. During this session Zainab will discuss the BJfE as well as her experience in running an editorial committee. Gail will discuss her past experiences as Co-Chair as well as her experience in editing a Cambridge Scholars Publishing edition. Stephen will share his own publications experience as well as a bit of background to professional journal editing. This roundtable will offer the opportunity to discuss and raise questions about personal experience editing and/or publishing, the value of peer review, the potential for academic impact without publications and the role of new media in the future of academic publishing.

How to Get the Most from your PhD Experience

Date: 26 March 2016 Venue: 4th Floor West, Muirhead Tower Time: 15:45 – 16:30 This roundtable discussion will be chaired by Jim Bell, Holly Prescott and Dr Isabelle Hertner. Jim is currently the Marketing and Events Manager of the University Graduate School (UGS), which hosts a variety of skills workshops and events to help PhD students gain experience and skills useful both during and after their studies. Holly Prescott works with the Careers Network and previously completed her PhD in English Literature at the University of Birmingham. Dr Isabelle Hertner is a Lecturer in German and European Politics and Society as well as Deputy Director of the Institute for German Studies. Jim will introduce the Graduate School and his own role as Marketing and Events Manager. Holly will discuss the Careers Network as well as her personal PhD experience and what she’s done in the years after. Isabelle will discuss her role as a PhD supervisor. This session will explore ways in which postgraduates can maximise their time at the unviersity while undertaking a Masters or PhD. Possible discussion topics and areas to raise questions might include teaching experience, the relationship with a supervisor, support sources (e.g. PGMSA), networking and preparing for what comes after (be that in or outside of academia). The conference including is free to attend and includes coffee/tea and lunches. You can still book your place by emailing gcfe@contacts.bham.ac.uk (the booking form is available on our conference tab on the left).

9th Annual Conference Keynote: Jolyon Howorth

We are delighted to be welcoming Professor Jolyon Howorth from Yale University to deliver our keynote address at next week’s GCfE Conference, Dissident Voices. Howorth has published extensively in the fields of European politics and history, particularly in relation to defense policy and transatlantic relations. His publications include 14 books and 200+ journal articles and book chapters, available in ten different languages. He has been a consultant with European and US governments and private agencies on matters of security and defense and his keynote speech entitled “Wake Up Europe: The Dawning of a New Global Order” will surely be one of the highlights of this year’s annual conference.

GCfE Keynote Poster

To register for the keynote address as well as the rest of our conference programme please email gcfe@contacts.bham.ac.uk. A guest booking form as well as our full programme is available on our Annual Conference page. As always this is a free event and coffee/tea + lunches will be provided. We look forward to seeing you there.

GCfE 9th Annual Conference: Dissident Voices

Our 9th Annual Conference will take place next week on the 25th and 26th of March 2015. This years conference is entitled Dissident Voices? Europe Past, Present and Future.

2014 has been a tulultous year as we marked the centenary of the First World War, Scotland hosted a refrendum on independence and tensions in the Ukraine dominated headlines. This coming May we will see the UK’s next general election which may have reprecussions not only in Britain but across Europe with the Conservative Party promising an in-out referendum on Europe if they win the majority. Join us next week to discuss Europe’s past, present and future prospects.

GCfE Conference PosterThis year our conference will feature 5 plenary paper sessions, two academic roundtables and a keynote address delivered by Professor Jolyon Howorth from Yale University. For further details please see our Annual Conference page (on the left) or are conference programme available here: GCfE 2015 Conference Programme

The conference including meals is free to attend but we would appreciate if you would fill in our guest booking form and submit it to gcfe@contacts.bham.ac.uk prior to the event. The booking form can be found here: 2015 Conference Guest Booking Form