Category Archives: ISTR Programs

The PhD Seminar: A bit like coming home for me

The following is a guest post by Mieke Berghmans, former ISTR PhD Seminar participant.

I am one of those PhD students who had the chance to attend two ISTR PhD seminars: a first one in 2012 in Muenster and a second one, two years later, in Stockholm.  Needless to say,  I am very enthusiastic about the whole program. I have been encouraging fellow PhD students to apply too.

The ISTR PhD seminar meant a lot of different things to me. Let me share a few with you.

The ISTR PhD seminar was a great chance for me to meet other academics who are passionate about the same things that I am passionate about. At my home university, my colleagues have a shared interest in education, society and culture. They are all great people with interesting subjects of study. But unfortunately, not one of my colleagues is working on international NGOs, the topic that I love. This made me feel quite ‘lonely’ in the beginning of my research. Attending the ISTR PhD seminar and meeting folks who can talk endlessly about the difference between social movements and NGOs and other ‘sector related’ issues was really a bit like coming home for me.

What I also loved about the ISTR PhD seminar is the ‘formula’ of the small group sessions. In these sessions, students quickly – in five minutes or so – present their work to the group members. After that, the members of the group ask them questions. I hadn’t come across this way of working until I participated in the ISTR PhD seminar. Before that, I had always participated in debates where one person presents his or her work extensively and then a shorter time period is reserved for critical comments, questions and suggestions of the public. The formula used in the ISTR PhD seminar turned this upside down. It reserved more time for the discussion than for the presentation and it allowed the presenter to ask questions to the group.  I must say I found this a very fruitful approach. In this formula, students were not pushed in to a defensive mode. Rather, we could openly present the issues that had us stuck and that we were struggling with, and our fellow group members would spend 45 minutes constructively working with us to look for alternative perspectives and solutions, helping us to get ‘unstuck’ again.

Most importantly, both ISTR PhD seminars were a lot of fun. I had a great time and laughed a lot during the sessions, in the pub, and in the park. Through the seminar I met some great people who became good friends. I look forward to meeting them again in July. See you in Amsterdam!

mieke photo

Mieke Berghmans

Writing a PhD on ‘accountability in international NGOs’ at KU Leuven, Belgium

Advertisements

Special Events at the ISTR Conference: Book signing, professional development seminars, and canal tours!

Amidst the flurry of taking care of your conference registration, booking your flight and hotel, and of course writing your conference paper, you may not have noticed the page we have on the ISTR website announcing several special events at this year’s conference in Amsterdam.  Be sure to take a look as some require advance registration to attend.

Free Canal Tours for Conference Participants!

We are pleased to announce that the External Affairs Office of the City of Amsterdam is offering free canal tour tickets for all ISTR Conference attendees.  Tickets can be picked up at the registration desk and will be valid July 10-July 14. 

Story Collider Storytelling Workshop

Tuesday July 10, 2018, 9am-12pm, 50 spots available by registration only.  Sign up by completing this short registration form.

The best available science tells us that for most audiences, stories are more interesting, understandable, convincing, and memorable than evidence‐focused communications. However, scientists are unfamiliar with this literature and often resist or distrust storytelling approaches. This storytelling workshop explores how to develop and tell personal stories about science with intellectual honesty and ethical consideration. Lecture and discussion will share research on storytelling and narrative persuasion and highlight the value of personal stories in science. Participants will learn how to find, develop, and perform their own deeply human stories of science.   This workshop will be facilitated by Story Collider.

Professional Development Seminars: Supporting ISTR’s Emerging Scholars

Designed to support recent PhD graduates and those in the early stages of their careers, but of course open to all, ISTR is pleased to offer 5 professional development seminars at the conference:

  • Academic job interviews
  • The Non-Academic Job Market
  • Navigating Job-market and Career Strategies
  • Post-doc opportunities
  • Teaching AND Learning: Perspectives on Engaged Scholarship in the Third Sector
Meet the Author – Book Signing

Authors of books published in the last two years are invited to sign and sell their books at the conference during our “Meet the Author” session. There is no charge to participate!  Bring a display copy of your book and order forms for delegates to fill out, or contact your publisher and ask them to send books for sale.  Please complete the short form here to participate.

Reflecting on the PhD Seminar experience: Building a community of emerging scholars

Guest post by Christiane Rudmann, 2014 PhD Seminar participant and organizing member of the PhD Seminar Alumni Network

IMG_4657 final 2x3When I received the email that I was accepted to ISTR’s PhD Seminar in Muenster in 2014, I couldn’t believe my luck! I had already been working for 2 years on my PhD at a smaller German university that did not have a nonprofit faculty. It will hardly come as a surprise to hear that I struggled to find the “right” literature, the appropriate conceptual frameworks, or like-minded researchers to discuss and eventually advance my project. The opportunity to attend ISTR’s PhD Seminar changed all of that.

We worked in groups of about 6 PhD students with our always-encouraging faculty members, discussed everyone’s project, asked and were asked many of the critical questions. And I believe we all received valuable advice on how to best proceed, solve a problem, rethink an approach, and just get it done.

P1080349

What was striking to me is that never before had I had to chance to work with a group of fellow researchers – graduate students and senior faculty – in such a respectful, collegiate, and encouraging atmosphere. We came from many a different country and with that from, at times, very different academic backgrounds. Some PhD students had the chance to work on a daily basis with the leading scholars in the field whom others only knew from the books they were reading for their literature review, yet it was always an atmosphere of true peer support where no question was ever off limits or “too simple” to ask.

I had the chance to attend and present at a few other conferences in the field in recent years, including at ISTR in Stockholm, and have to say that, to me, ISTR provides the most welcoming and encouraging setting for researchers to come together, think critically, and leave inspired for future projects. Yet the most wonderful aspect is that some of those researchers have become some of my best friends.

 

It is in that spirit of friendship and collaborative research that we are working towards establishing the ISTR PhD Seminar Alumni Network. We hope to see many of the PhD Seminar alumni in Amsterdam and are thankful that ISTR made sure all the PhD Seminar students and alumni can stay at the same hotel for the duration of the seminar and the conference, with that, providing lots of opportunities to network and to get to know each other.

 

Launch of the ISTR’s International Comparative Project on Institutional Philanthropy

At the ISTR Conference in Stockholm, a capacity-filled roundtable engaged a dialogue between researchers and a panel of foundation leaders about the state of knowledge about institutional philanthropy at the occasion of the ISTR’s launch of its Institutional Comparative project on Institutional Philanthropy. Session moderator Bernard Enjolras from the Institute for Social Research in Oslo and coordinator of the ISTR’s International Comparative project on Institutional Philanthropy provides a description below.

Though knowledge about the world of institutional philanthropy, especially the world of foundations, is relatively available in the U.S. and to some extent in Europe, we lack knowledge about the importance of institutional philanthropy in many parts of the world. Additionally, even where knowledge about institutional philanthropy is available, this field has received much less scholarly attention than the public and business sectors and their organizational forms. The task of comparing institutional philanthropy in a cross-national perspective is largely unachieved and impeded by two persistent obstacles: the imbalance concerning the availability of empirical data between countries and world-regions, and the diversity of institutional forms and cultural understandings and practices characterizing institutional philanthropy in different national settings.

Insofar as much of scholarly research on institutional philanthropy has been informed and influenced by the American understanding of the grant-making foundation, a comparative perspective needs to develop a concept which, from the outset, does not limit the investigation to a subset of institutions and practices bounded to a cultural and national setting, but, on the contrary, encompasses the very diversity characterizing its research object. ISTR’s International Comparative Project on Institutional Philanthropy aims at improving our knowledge of institutional philanthropy worldwide (differentiated from individual giving and other third sector manifestations), understood as the use of private resources oriented toward the public good within an institutional setting.

ISTR International Comparative Roundtable

Because philanthropic institutions have limited resources relative to the issues they address and the causes they pursue, they increasingly seek to maximize their impact by fostering policy innovation and social innovation. Correlatively, for philanthropic institutions, having access to accurate and up-to-date information about philanthropic activity in different countries and fields is critical for enabling them to actualize their innovative potential and to maximize their impact. In spite of the strategic importance of reliable and relevant knowledge on philanthropic institutions’ activities and capacity to innovate, results from systematic cross-country comparisons studies are few.

Hence, the ISTR’s International Comparative Project on Institutional Philanthropy aims at improving the state of knowledge about philanthropic institutions’ innovative capacity globally and in a comparative perspective. More precisely, the project will consist in (i) clarifying the concept of “institutional philanthropy” in its diverse manifestations, (ii) mapping of the world of institutional philanthropy worldwide, and (iii) an inquiry into the ways by which institutional philanthropy  innovate worldwide, and (iv) building research capacity and facilitate cooperation among researchers and research institutions.

  • Clarifying the concept of “institutional philanthropy”

One a most challenging issue when it comes to comparative research is the definitional one. Indeed the definition of foundation and the requirements in foundation law vary from country to country. Given the definitional complexity inherent to comparative research, as well as the tendency shown by comparative research to focus mainly on grant-making foundations both for reasons of simplicity and because of the influence of the American tradition, the project emphasizes the need of conceptual clarification under the conceptual umbrella of “institutional philanthropy”.  A central objective of this project is therefore to find common ground around a consensus “working definition” of the institutional philanthropic sector that can be applied cross-nationally.

  • Mapping of the world of institutional philanthropy worldwide

Philanthropic institutions and especially foundations are in many ways the backbone of civil society; they play a critical role in canalizing private funds to value-oriented projects emanating from civil society initiatives. In spite of national studies and partial comparisons across countries there exists no systematic international comparative knowledge about the size, composition, structural features, and developmental trends of the institutionalized philanthropic sector on a global basis. Consequently, a main uncompleted task for the project will consist in mapping and measuring the world of institutional philanthropy in its different manifestations and to contribute to the standardization of data collection at the global level. Such an effort will allow examining cross-national and regional variations in the size, composition, assets, financing, and staffing of the philanthropic sector.

  • Identifying the innovative capacities of institutional philanthropy worldwide 

As many philanthropic institutions and foundations seek to maximize their ability to bring about positive social change, they find themselves emphasizing their capacity to support new ideas, new needs and new solutions, and to influence public opinion and public policy. The project will consequently proceed to a mapping of philanthropic institutions’ innovative initiatives worldwide and address the central issues related to their innovative capacity: How do philanthropic institutions’ innovate? Which types of innovation do they initiate in the fields of education, higher-education and research, health, social welfare, arts and culture, religion, and international philanthropy? By which channels do they innovate, through single issue projects, cooperation with governments – policy development, with other foundations – pilot projects, with the business community or jointly, in collaboration with business, government and other philanthropic actors?

  • Building research capacity and facilitate cooperation among researchers and research institutions

In order to meet the needs of building research capacity within the field of institutional philanthropy, plans to establish a “young professional” fellowship program, offering internships to academics with foundations worldwide, as well as a PhD program associated to the overall project allowing selected research topics to be analyzed by PhD candidates in the academic institutions associated to the project.

Bernard

Bernard Enjolras is Research Professor with the Institute for Social Research in Oslo and coordinator of the ISTR’s International Comparative project on Institutional Philanthropy.

New Regional Network and Affinity Group Meetings

New Regional Network

Members of ISTR’s regional networks will meet on Thursday at 6:15pm.  Just announced is a meeting of those who wish to consider the formation of a new regional network group focused on Russia, Central Asia and the other former Soviet republics beyond the EU’s eastern borders.

To gauge interest, the organizers will convene an exploratory meeting of researchers with interests in this region. The meeting will be held concurrent with the other regional network meetings on Thursday, 6:15 pm, in the Aulan room on Campus Ersta.

Many scholars working on Central and Eastern Europe may well feel at home in the Europe regional network at this point, but would also be welcome to help discuss common issues and the proper boundaries of a potential new regional interest group.

The other existing Regional Networks and PhD Seminar alumni will meet at the same time – Thursday at 6:15pm – on Campus Ersta:

  •  Africa (Sal 2)
  • Asia Pacific (Sal 1)
  • Europe (Stora Salen)
  • Latin America and the Caribbean (Sal 4)
  • PhD Seminar Alumni (Sal 3)

New Affinity Group on Research on Volunteering

This year the ISTR Conference will convene the first meeting of the new affinity group for those with an interest in research on volunteering.  The affinity group is open and free for anyone to join who is interested in networking with a community of academics and practitioners advancing the field of research on volunteering.  The group will meet on Friday at 12:30 at the Ersta Conference Center in Clara Eckerstromstromsalen.

The formation of this affinity group results from an increasing interest in the distinctive features of research on volunteering, an increased awareness that there is a benefit in connecting the diverse research components in the field, and an increased awareness that stronger efforts must be made to build connections among those carrying out this type of research in all regions of the globe.  A major factor underpinning this interest results from the adoption in September of the new United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which recognizes the important role of volunteers in the achievement of the goals and the publication in June of a report by the United Nations Secretary General on Integrating Volunteering in the Next Decade, which calls for increased research and policy action on volunteering.

The other existing affinity groups on Gender and Law and Regulation will meet at 12:30 at the Ersta Conference Center in Norrbysalen and the Biblioteket, respectively.

ISTR Pilot Mentoring Program

ISTR Pilot Mentoring Program

Call for Participation

ISTR is an organization known for friendliness and collegiality – which we hope will be enhanced by our mentoring/hosting program.  The Society will begin with a one year pilot program –that will begin in June 2016 with the Stockholm conference and continue until June 2017. The objective is to assist students with professional development and engagement. See below if you are interested in participating as a mentor or mentee.  All mentors and mentees must be members of ISTR.

Mentors. Mid-career or senior scholars, as well as professionals from outside the academy.

Mentees. Graduate students at any stage of their careers or post-graduates and junior faculty within five years of receipt of their terminal graduate degree (including PhD, MA, and JD).

How it Works

  • Mentors and mentees are matched by ISTR’s executive director.
  • This one-year mentoring relationship is intended for June 2016 to June 2017and will include the annual conference in June 2016, if both mentor and mentee attend this meeting.
  • Participants are encouraged, but not required, to meet once in person at the ISTR International conference.
  • Communications may take place as often as once a month, either electronically or in-person. At a minimum communications will include 3-4 conversations over the course of a year and will include an exchange of experiences and career advice.
  • While reading of dissertation chapters or grant proposals is helpful to every junior scholar, this program defers that labor to the mentee’s local networks. No commitment to reading is required of the mentor in ISTR’s mentoring program.
  • Instead, mentoring conversations will focus on career advice, professional advancement, and facilitating contacts.

How to Sign UP

If you are interested in serving as a mentor or in being a mentee, please contact istr@jhu.edu by June 10, 2016 with ‘Mentoring Program’ in the subject line.  Please include a 3-5 sentence bio that includes your primary research areas and teaching and professional interest areas.

Indicate your preference (mentor or mentee) and we will match people before the conference and send them one another’s contact info.

If you are a non-academic mentor willing to talk about your work and if you are a student or new professional who would prefer to talk with a non-academic mentor, please indicate that preference as well.

Note: ISTR is grateful to the American Society for Environmental History for providing a template for this program.