What I did in the holidays

Man asleep on a bench. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

I’m often asked what I do in university holidays. OK, so I am less subjected to questions and more assumptions, often wildly wrong and mildly insulting. So, in the interests of transparency, trying to avoid all temptations to waspishness, and with a due sense of the value of the publicly-funded elements of my work, here is just some of what I did in the holidays

  •    Got a major book on deliberative democracy finished with colleagues at Harvard, published and publicised; got an article on the meaning of public space accepted by one the world’s leading political science and political geography journals; and minor revisions on another about legislatures. Research, by the way, is not just some “self-indulgent thing academics do when the students have gone”, as I once heard someone comment on Radio 4. Among its many uses is the fact that research generates the stuff students read, think about and learn with.
  • Took up my duties as the new DRED (love that title – DIrector of Research Degrees), helping a PhD student prepare for a resubmission of her first year review, writing schoalrship applications for and (successfully)  promoting the hell out of two others, dealing with second year reviews of PhD students by colleagues, helping organise induction for the new first year research students, amongst all the usual paperwork flowing in and out of the Graduate Schools Office and funding agencies
  • Got the ball rolling on a new policy consultancy project for my MA students with a local council
  • Updated the reading lists and class tasks for the two modules I teach, including making a start on the wholesale revision of one as part of a departmental curriculum review that got underway the first week after term finished.
  • Blogged and tweeted on my areas of expertise, which generated an invitation to consult with a group interested in protecting democratic public space chaired by former Czech President Vaclav Havel and an invitation to speak at Parliament and the Ashmolean in Oxford next year
  • Interviewed and selected Teaching Assistants to lead first-year seminars; wrote briefing notes for them, set up a facebook discussion group for them; along the way sparking a review of and improvements to the way we recruit and train those teachers
  • Read the resubmission of a PhD thesis for which I was the internal examiner and wrote a recommendation (she passed!), plus read and reviewed two books for journals in the Netherlands and the UK, read five draft articles for journal editors and wrote reviews; marked three MA dissertations, 20 borderline 1st year exams and another 12 resits.
  • Oh, and took one week – one week – off with my family in a holiday cottage on Anglesey. It rained. The whole bloody time.

How about you?

One thought on “What I did in the holidays

  1. I am in Australia, giving 3 papers in 10 days (and writing other papers, external marking, having meetings, etc). It is difficult to tell people that you are homesick and don’t want to eat out every night!

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