Julie Gould asks six higher education experts if it’s now time to go back to the drawing board and redesign graduate programmes from scratch.
Suzanne Ortega, president of the US Council of Graduate Schools, says programmes now include elements to accommodate some of the skills now being demanded by employers, including project and data management expertise. “We can’t expect to prepare doctoral researchers in a timely fashion by simply adding more and more separate activities,” she tells Gould. “We need to redesign the curricula and the capstone project,” referring to the PhD as a long-term investigative project that culminates in a final product.
Jonathan Jansen, professor of education at Stellenbosch University, South Africa, calls for more flexible and modular programmes and describes as an example how MBA programmes have evolved from a full-time one year course to include part-time online only programmes and a “blended” combination of the two approaches. “It’s about trying to figure out in terms of your own lifestyle what kind of progarmme design works for you,” he says. “One size does not fit all.”
But Jansen’s colleague Liezel Frick, director of the university’s centre for higher and adult education, says it’s important to remember the ultimate goal of a PhD. She tells Gould: “I get the point around flexibility but it’s still a research focused degree. You still have to make an original contribution to your field of knowledge. Otherwise it becomes a continuing professional development programme where you can do odds and ends but never get to the core of it, which is a substantive research contribution.”
David Bogle, a doctoral school pro-vice-provost at UCL, London, says it’s important to remember that graduate students are part of a cohort and community who should be respected and rewarded, not looked down on and treated as second class citizens. “At the moment there’s a certain amount of ‘I’m the supervisor. You should be looking to me as the primary source of inspiration,’ when in fact the inspiration comes from peers, professional communities, training and cross disciplinary activities.”
This is the second episode in a five-part series timed to coincide with Nature’s 2019 PhD survey. Many of the 6,300 graduate students who responded call for more one-to-one support and better career guidance from PhD supervisors.
In this episode of Talk Nerdy, Cara is joined by materials scientist, author, and science communicator Dr. Ainissa Ramirez. They talk about her new book (and winner of the 2021 AAAS/Subaru Prize for Excellence in Science Books), The Alchemy of Us: How Humans and Matter Transformed One Another. From clocks to light bulbs to silicon chips, they dig into the myriad ways such groundbreaking inventions have profoundly changed the way we exist in the world, with a special emphasis on the under-appreciated figures who paved the way.
The podcast and artwork embedded on this page are from Cara Santa Maria, which is the property of its owner and not affiliated with or endorsed by Listen Notes, Inc.
Dan and James chat about how they come up with new ideas, why everyone seems to be trying to monetise their hobbies, and why it’s so hard for most labs to have a singular focus of research.
We had some problems with James’ mic so the quality of his audio wasn’t up our usual standard. To make up for this we’ve added one of our older bonus episodes at the end of this conventional episode (this begins at 54:18). These bonus episodes are typically only made available for our Professor Fancypants Patreon patrons, but now you’ll get to hear one!
Other notes and links:
The half-serious “Highlander” bounty program from Noah Haber
This week is the start of a very special three-part mini-series centered around stories about mental health, told from two different perspectives. This mini-series is guest hosted and produced by Story Collider senior producer Misha Gajewski.
The first episode of this series features a story told by a couple, chemist Xavier Jordan Retana and editor Brittany Lundberg. After moving into separate apartments during the pandemic, Xavier and Brittany each find themselves navigating their mental health and coping with a new sense of independence.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic there was a lot of misinformation about vaccines floating around on social media. Public health agencies have been trying to figure out what to do. It turns out that one of the most powerful remedies is also one of the simplest.
The podcast and artwork embedded on this page are from Utah Public Radio, which is the property of its owner and not affiliated with or endorsed by Listen Notes, Inc.
Throughout the tragic events of the past few months — and despite the tragic events still to come — love still perseveres and flourishes. From an unlikely pandemic wedding to the bond formed between researcher and patient, this episode will examine the powerful love that sustains us during this time.
Our first story is from Melanie Hamlett, a Moth-slam-winning storyteller and writer currently based in France. After a life of proud singlehood, Melanie considers settling down during the pandemic. (Just a warning — this story is a bit “R-rated”!) As always, find photos and transcripts of all of our stories on our website.
After Melanie’s story, our host speaks with Joanne Davila, professor of psychology at Stony Brook University, about how the pandemic is affecting relationships.