Monday, March 25, 2013

Culture and the graduate student

Culture is a set of assumptions that are accepted without question.
Culture determines what is right, valued, important, and normal.

At my church there are many graduate students who are not originally from Australia. Many understandably struggle with the dual challenge of postgraduate study and negotiating a foreign culture. Consequently, I got asked to run a workshop "Thriving or surviving in postgraduate research." It covered a wide range of topics including mental health, managing your supervisor, and publishing. Most of the material has appeared on this blog before.

A significant part of the time was spent by the participants completing this worksheet and then discussing their answers among themselves.
I think this is much more effective and less overwhelming than me just telling them what to do, which I fear may be what happens at the workshops run by the university Graduate School (30+ detailed powerpoint slides in 50 minutes?).

Much of it is just as relevant to Australian students but it seems that non-Westerners particularly struggle with asking for and getting help from authoritarian figures such as their supervisors.

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