Cultivating Charismatic Cohorts
A fortnight of fervor with the Oxford Internet Institute
Spending two weeks in July at the Oxford Internet Institute’s Summer Doctoral Programme (OII SDP) resulted in an unforgettable fortnight of scholarly exchanges and excursions around England. Among my cohort of 29 doctoral students from a wide array of disciplines tangential to the Internet (ranging from game studies to computer science), we spent our days providing each other with constructive feedback on our dissertation work, and our nights exploring the busy streets of Oxford.
I am amazed at how well OII SDP built a cohesive cohort among students from various pockets of the world with divergent academic interests. While we lived in a quaint collection of university-owned dormitories, I did not anticipate the close, persisting friendships that I have been able to form in such a short period of time. As a lifelong researcher, the biggest takeaways from my OII SDP experience involved collaborating, connecting, and conferencing with my cohort.
One of my favorite aspects of OII SDP was the self-organized workshops that my peers put together at only a moment’s notice. For instance, I have been able to contribute to workshops on topics such as information marginality and data justice. The recommended reading lists and ad-hoc resources we have been able to assemble as a group have been personally helpful in identifying and filling gaps within my own domains of expertise.
Ever since I left Oxford University, I have become more aware of the different types of scholarly venues and grant opportunities where my peers of different disciplines are submitting their work. Seeing cohort updates on internal Facebook and WhatsApp groups continue to bring a smile to my face, as it is comforting to be in a community that celebrates individual successes — such as program milestones and job placements — as a collective.
More than a handful of my cohort attended the AoIR 2018 Conference in Montreal, Canada this past October. Several of us were able to coordinate staying at an Airbnb together, where we continued living in close quarters for the duration of the conference. Moreover, a good number also partook in the AoIR Doctoral Colloquium, sharing more refined versions of our work that we sharpened after receiving peer feedback from OII SDP. Knowing that we will run into each other in future conferences to come makes mini-reunions all the more exciting.
There was never time for a dull moment at Oxford! The wonderful OII SDP staff prepared a calendar of social events to keep our cohort fed and entertained through group dinners, walking tours, picnics, and punting, and the nurturing environment allowed students to speak earnestly about their struggles and triumphs of their doctoral journeys. I highly recommend the OII SDP to doctoral students who would like to receive critical feedback on their dissertation research, especially those who can benefit from a joining a like-minded community of talented scholars.
Post previously featured in the Oxford Internet Institute Blog.