Global Challenges Doctoral Centre

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Training and events

The GCDC organises specialised training to support GCDC doctoral researchers and affiliates as they work to address global challenges through research.

GCDC training is intended to supplement, rather than replace, the range of training opportunities offered by academic schools and central departments, including the Graduate and Researcher College’s Researcher Development Programme. In some cases, GCDC training sessions are open to the wider postgraduate community, and more information is available via the links below. Email with any questions or to express interest in particular sessions.

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Online training and resources

The GCDC has produced a series of training videos for researchers working in global challenges areas

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Virtual resources for global challenges researchers

Previous Training and events

When: Wednesday 22nd June from 13:30-15:45 via Zoom

Led by: Dr Sabina Strachan (how2glu)

Register: Priority booking for GCDC PhD students and affiliate students. Kent PhD students not affiliated with the Centre can book a place via the Graduate School’s Research Development Programme booking system (numbers are very limited).

The aim of this session is to equip participants with tools to adapt their research projects in response to the unforeseen changes/challenges brought about by COVID-19. The workshop will cover:

• How students can re-plan activities to achieve the intended outcomes of their research
• Problem-solving skills and flexible approaches that will help students adapt to change
• Tools which students will be able to refine, adapt and review for use throughout their PhD
• Students will draft strategies and grow their capabilities and confidence to take actions forward

When: 20th July 14.00-16.30 via Zoom

Led by: Dr Adair Richards (Adair Richards Associates)

Register: Priority booking for GCDC PhD students and affiliate students, but open to all postgraduate researchers via the Graduate School’s Researcher Development Programme.

Session abstract: Have you ever felt that all your colleagues are better than you and one day you might get found out? Or that your success is mostly down to luck and not your own work?

Research tells us that many researchers, of all abilities, can suffer from Imposter Syndrome – some acutely, and some for many years. This training session will help you understand the causes and symptoms of Imposter Syndrome and how to recognise it in yourself and others.

Furthermore, you will learn a range of evidence-based techniques that you can apply to overcome Imposter Syndrome such that it does not significantly inhibit your research, or your experience of being a researcher. By the end of the course you will have both the knowledge and applicable tools to start making positive changes in your life.

When: June 2020

Led by: Dr Adair Richards

This ½-day course aims to equip researchers with the leading theories on effective decision making and to enable them to apply them in their professional life. This course is suitable for all researchers wishing to improve their decision-making skills.

When: June 2020

Led by: Dr Adair Richards

This experiential one-day course aims to provide postgraduate researchers with the foundations and essentials of current leadership theory as well as focussing on their application within the research student context. You will explore the reasons behind the challenges of leadership, work through relevant case studies and reflect on your own personal leadership styles. We will identify the characteristics of effective leaders and then learn a critical history of leadership theories over the last century – particularly those that can easily be applied within a research group environment. We will cover how to be a focussed leader, how to lead with authenticity, and discuss pertinent case studies. There will also be an opportunity to discuss any specific situations you are currently dealing with.

When: June 2020

Led by: Dr Adair Richards

This course will help you to explore the research behind how to use our time better and develop a workable plan so that you can improve your use of time over the coming year. There are many competing pressures on researchers, coming both from inside and outside Universities, and PhD students frequently report being dissatisfied with how they are using their time. Some of the key skills this course will help you develop include being able to clearly choose and prioritise tasks, negotiate and communicate timescales, handle delay and surprise tasks, avoid unnecessary perfectionism, overcome procrastination,  and of course how to meet important deadlines. We will use activities, seminars, reflection and discussion to enable you to make informed decisions about how to manage your time better during your studies at Kent.

Full session title: Documentary as Visual Evidence: Social Injustice Behind Air Pollution and Pandemic Outbreak in China and India (online)

When: June 2020

Led by: Dr Lisa Lin (School of Arts)

Lisa led a virtual discussion focusing on how to use media to engage researchers and stakeholders in a wider discussion on social injustice issues behind air pollution. Speaking from her experience leading a Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) project in China and India (more info on her GCRF-funded project here), Lisa aimed to get participants involved in the debate around these issuesPrior to the session, participants were sent a link to view documentaries produced as a part of Lisa’s GCRF project, as these films informed the discussion. This session was aimed at GCDC students and researchers in the School of Arts, and the discussion offered insights into how to use the media to bring about research impact in developing countries. A full session abstract can be read here.

When: February 2020

Open to: this session was open to the GCDC cohorts, affiliate students and wider postgraduate community.

Led by: Prof Colin Robinson (Biosciences), PI on GCRF project ‘Establishment of biopharmaceutical and animal vaccine production capacity in Thailand and neighbouring South East Asian countries’

This presentation provided an overview of Prof Colin Robinson’s ongoing collaboration with groups in South East Asia as part of a UKRI GCRF project, and described some of the lessons learned, opportunities that emerged, and some areas that are relevant for GCDC students. The primary aim of the project is to use UK expertise in recombinant protein technology to assist groups in Thailand to produce animal vaccines and biotherapeutics (high-cost medicines) rather than being wholly reliant on expensive imports. However, the project has evolved to encompass related work with groups in Vietnam and Malaysia, and some of this work is being carried out by GCDC students. The presentation included discussion on:

  • The cultural barriers that have to be overcome (which vary from country to country even in SE Asia).
  • The communication barriers and how it is vital to communicate by different methods, and at different levels.
  • The critical importance of travelling to the partner groups – and of finding funds to add to the GCDC budget. 
  • The need to consider publication opportunities in this unusual type of PHD project.

The session was interactive, and GCDC students were asked to contribute their own ideas for addressing these issues.

When: January 2020

Open to: GCDC-funded PhDs, GCDC Affiliate Students and Kent Social Sciences PhDs

Led by:  Dr Mark Hampton (SAC/KBS); Vicky Gatward Warner (Treasury Accountant); Emma Rowland (Payments Office Supervisor)

Led by Dr Mark Hampton, this session drew on his fieldwork experience over the last 20 years in developing countries in South-East Asia, the Indian Ocean and the Caribbean. Mark is a Development Geographer and uses mainly qualitative type techniques to examine the socio-economic impacts of tourism on local communities. This session was practically-orientated and looked at approaching fieldwork, how to go about data collection, and using your time effectively in the field. Mark’s session finished at 12pm and was followed by an informative ‘mini session’ led by the Payments Team on navigating the overseas expense claim process for those preparing to do overseas fieldwork. 

When: December 2019

Led by: GCDC deputy director, Dr Frank Grundig

The session kicked off with lunch and was followed by a presentation by GCDC deputy director, Dr Frank Grundig. Frank provided some background on his research, invited participants to introduce themselves and their research and gave a brief presentation on ‘Climate Change as a Global Challenge’. The presentation was followed by a discussion between participants, who came from a variety of disciplines.

Full session title: GCDC Hangout: Philanthropy and the Sustainable Development Goals: what role for private donors?

When: November 2019

Led by: GCDC director, Dr Beth Breeze

Dr Beth Breeze, philanthropy academic and director of the Global Challenges Doctoral Centre at the University of Kent, led a discussion about the pros and cons of philanthropic individuals and institutions becoming involved in tackling global challenges. Should the resources of private donors be welcomed alongside public funding, or should we beware encouraging unelected wealthy elites to extend their power and influence on the global stage? Are some SDGs more or less suitable for private support, and what motivates rich donors to choose certain causes? Dr Breeze, author of ‘Richer Lives: why rich people give’ (2013) and ‘The Logic of Charity’ (2016) mapped out the contours of the debate and invited participants to share their perspectives.

The Global Challenges Doctoral Centre was delighted to host its inaugural GCRF GCDC Early Career Researcher Training School from 2-6 July 2019 at the University of Kent (Canterbury) in collaboration with the GCRF COMPASS project. The event’s main objective was to offer an opportunity for further skills development and exchange of ideas for PhD and Postdoctoral Researchers working on capacity-building and political, economic, societal and environmental developments in ODA countries.

Read more about the event here.

When: May 2019

Led by: Dr Trude Sundberg

Combining physical and social data, this training session examined how to carry out basic GIS mapping. The workshop explored the basics of mapping via satellite-based remote sensing techniques, provided practice on how to classify and fetch data on landuse and land cover, and examined GIS database creation and mapping. Providing both theoretical and hands on practice using open source software, the session used water security data and WASH issues as a primary example.

Full session title: Inclusive Community Driven Methodologies in Practice: Researching Vulnerable Populations

When: May 2019

Led by: Dr Trude Sundberg

Building on experiences carrying out interdisciplinary activist and community driven research using both qualitative and quantitative methods, this workshop gave practical examples of projects carried out in South and East Asia. Focusing on both the strengths and challenges of using these methods, the workshop aimed to equip participants with the skills to design and carry out their own projects.

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Get involved

You are invited to participate in the GCDC’s interdisciplinary event series entitled, GCDC Hangouts. The termly events are informal, interdisciplinary and include a discussion on global challenges research, a catered lunch and plenty of time for networking.

Everyone is welcome – whether you are a GCDC-funded PhD, a GCDC affiliate student, a supervisor, a postdoctoral research associate or just interested in research that addresses global challenges, do come along!

Our next GCDC Hangout will take place in Autumn 2020 (exact date TBC).