Category Archives: PhD Seminar

Celebrating the Award Winners at the ISTR Conference

Several awards were presented at ISTR’s 13th International Conference at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam back in July and we would like to take this opportunity to tell you about the award winners.

Emerging Scholar Dissertation Award

This award, established in 2006 by an anonymous donor, is given once every two years at the biennial ISTR conference to the author of the best dissertation in the field of comparative study of civil society organizations, nonprofit organizations, philanthropy, and voluntarism and related issues.  The purpose of the award is to encourage young scholars to enter the field of nonprofit and philanthropic studies throughout the world.  The winner this year was chosen from among 60 other entries from 28 countries. The overall quality of the entries, the diversity of the topics approached, the scope of areas addressed, as well as the spectrum of research methods utilized, left a very positive impression with the members of this year’s Selection Committee.

This year’s winner is Andrew Heiss, Brigham Young University, for his PhD thesis Amicable Contempt: The Strategic Balance between Dictators and International NGOs.

andrew-heiss-2016Examining the activities and adaption of international nongovernmental organisations (INGOs) in the context of increasing global restrictions on civic space, Andrew’s dissertation addresses the paradox that while INGOs’ service and advocacy activities can threaten the legitimacy and power of authoritarian regimes, numerous autocratic states still allow the work of INGOs; similarly, despite limitations and restrictions on their own activities, numerous INGOs continue to operate in these countries. Thus, the idea put forward and explored throughout the dissertation is that the relationship between INGOs and autocratic regimes is a state of amicable contempt: each party is aware that the other both threatens and supports their existence.

Focusing on the timeframe of 1991 to 2014, and on the three cases of Egypt, Russia and China, the dissertation addresses questions about: Why do regimes allow INGOs to work in their country? What influences INGO decision making in restrictive environments? How do regimes reap the benefits of INGOs programming? How do INGOs adapt to restrictions? A creative, detailed and thorough examination of an increasingly important international issue, the dissertation thereby provides a strong theoretical basis for examining INGO-dictator relationships. Additionally, it offers a diversity of practical findings that can be used by local and international NGOs to manage risk and to improve their likelihood of survival and impact of their work.

The Selection Committee also acknowledges the merit and achievements of the two other finalists.

Nora Derbal, Freie Universität Berlin, Charity for the Poor in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, 1961–2015.

Sara Compion, University of Kentucky, Volunteering And Democratization In Southern Africa: A Structural And Cultural Analysis.

Best Articles in Voluntas 2016 & 2017

 These articles will be open access and available to the public for August and September.  Patricia Mendonca, University of Sao Paulo and chair of the awards committee, presented awards to:

  • Abdulrazak Karriem, University of Western Cape Town, South Africa and Lehn M. Benjamin, Indiana University, United States, for their article, “How Civil Society Organizations Foster Insurgent Citizenship: Lessons from the Brazilian Landless Movement,” February 2016, Volume 27, Issue I, pp 19-36.
  • Jasmin Slootjes, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands and Thomas Kampen, University for Humanistic Studies, The Netherlands for their article, “Is My Volunteer Job Not Real Work? The Experiences of Migrant Women with Finding Employment Through Volunteer Work,” October 2017, Volume 28, Isuue 5, pp 1900–1921.

Best Poster

Stefan Toepler, George Mason University, and Publications Committee Chair presented the award to Andre-Anne Parent; Stéphanie Tourillon-Gingras; and Christian Jetté, Université de Montréal for their poster The Entre-Maisons Ahuntsic – A Collaborative Project at the Hearth of Low-rent Housing Units. Click here to see the award-winning poster!

best poster “It is the task of the publications committee to select and confer the best poster presentation award.  Doing so is a very delightful task; our only regret is that we cannot offer any publications opportunities along with the award.  That said, in selecting our awardee, we look for both intellectual and visual appeal of the poster. Intellectually, we look for clearly presented statements of the research question and approach that also convince through concision. Visually, we like posters that utilize different design elements without being distracting and that easily guide the eye along … bonus points go to posters that manage to do so without overtaxing the eyes of the grey-haired crowd and do not force us to open the magnification app on our iPhones.  There were many highly fascinating posters, but this one had the best overall package.”

PhD 3 Minute Thesis

3 minute thesisRuth Phillips, University of Sydney in Australia and President-Elect of ISTR, presented the award for the PhD 3 Minute Thesis to Fanny Dethier for her presentation titled Seeing Through NPOs. A new innovation for ISTR, this experimental competition offered a light-hearted way for students in the ISTR PhD Seminar to practice the art of distilling their ideas down to the core questions and concerns in 3 minutes and 1 PowerPoint slide.  Ten students all gave very good presentations during the seminar and the experience was fun for the audience.  A prize was awarded to the person who made the case for their research in the most clear and compelling manner, and the winner made her presentation to the entire plenary. You can view a video of her presentation (at the end of the opening plenary) by clicking here.

But besides the fun, the 3-minute thesis teaches important lessons – research should be designed to be useful, and in order to be useful (and in order to funded!) the users need to understand it and believe in it.  Sometimes 3-minutes are all we have to get the attention of our audience.

It is ISTR’s hope that this competition provided an opportunity to make the wider conference attendees more aware of the PhD seminar, and hopefully inspired the students to feel more connected to the larger group of scholars and begin to see it as their research home into the future.

Congratulations to all the award winners!

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Three highlights of the ISTR PhD Seminar 2018: Or why participation is highly recommended

Guest post by Franz Koranyi who is writing a PhD on ‘philanthropic engagement in community-based networks in the field of education’ at the Freie Universität Berlin, Germany.

Do you know that feeling of anticipation preceding an important presentation or event? You anticipate your own excitement, helpful feedback of others, interesting encounters and wonder how you will experience the ambiance of the event. Preparing for the fourth ISTR PhD Seminar from 8th to 10th July on the train to Amsterdam, the Netherlands, I had this exact feeling. Like Mieke Berghmans I expected to have the (rare) opportunity to talk, discuss, and work with other early career researchers who are all interested in the same field, concerned with phenomena such as the third sector, philanthropy and social entrepreneurship. This promised the chance to discuss my PhD in a different way than I present it to my peers in educational science.

From the moment I arrived at the hotel, the feeling of excitement became a feeling of joy. We had all been booked in the same hotel which meant that we met right before the start of the seminar. Having been given the opportunity to share a room, I first met my roommate from Jamaica. This was a perfect match since he not only is a very empathetic person and great roommate, but also works on the engagement of foundations. So, we were on the same page from the very beginning. Arriving at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, we experienced a very welcoming atmosphere that instantly made us feel comfortable. After hearty welcoming words by the organizers Pelle Åberg (Ersta Sköndal Bräcke University College) and René Bekkers (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam), and an interesting keynote speech by Taco Brandsen (Radboud University), we were ready to go for very valuable two seminar days. In the following I am going to sketch three aspects that in my opinion significantly shaped that experience:

Group sessions: a key element of the PhD Seminar were the group sessions of about six mini-plenaryor seven students and two faculty members. Every student had 45 minutes that were approximately divided into 15 minutes of presentation and 30 minutes of discussion. As stated by Mieke Berghmans this turned ‘normal’ presentations at conferences upside down, thereby providing more space for discussion of ideas, concepts, and most importantly challenges that you face at the moment. What I found to be most special in comparison to other workshops was that presentations went completely without slides. Instead, prepared with the abstracts of each participant, we sat together speaking to and discussing with each other. This implied for the presenter to come straight to the point; otherwise you risked that your audience would lose your line of thought. Still, in cases of confusion participants could easily make additional clarifications. The group sessions had a very positive atmosphere as described for the years before by Christiane Rudmann, and we received valuable feedback by students and faculty members alike.

PhD1Community: another important element of the PhD Seminar was the interaction outside of group sessions. There were tons of opportunities to enter into conversations with each another: We mingled in breaks (with delicious catering), enjoyed a lovely BBQ together, drank a glass of wine at the reception, or danced at the PhD party (to the music played by René Bekkers and band). This allowed us to meet fascinating people from all over the world in a more informal setting (more than 50 students from over 20 countries). At the same time, the range of interests was overwhelming, ranging from measuring the third sector in Malaysia for the first time, seeking civil society and the public sphere in social media, to research on volunteering by vulnerable groups. All the interaction gave us the opportunity to connect with each other and exchange not only knowledge, ideas, and daily challenges in the PhD life, but also talk about matters apart from our academic identity.

Professional development: the PhD seminar as well as additional workshops during the conference provided the opportunity for us to also think about our future careers. During the seminar we were offered three workshops on scholarly identity, the tenure track, and getting published that were chaired by a faculty member. These were open formats, in which information on the subject was mixed with personal experiences and stimulated by additional participant inputs as well as questions. For example, scholars in third sector research often face the challenge that they need to specialize in another discipline since (at least in Europe) schools in nonprofit / third sector studies are rare. Thus, we discussed what strategies are suited to cope with this challenge. Furthermore, during the subsequent ISTR conference, there were more workshops on professional development such as ‘post-doc opportunities’, ‘teaching and learning’, ‘non-academic job market’, ‘navigating job-market and career strategies’ and ‘academic job interviews’. These workshops provided food for thought and offered opportunities for further exchange on our future plans.

These are only three aspects of the PhD Seminar, however, there was even more to experience (e.g., a 3 Minute Thesis Competition as described by Steph Haywood) that would not fit into the space of this post. Thus, I highly recommend applying for the next ISTR PhD Seminar in 2020 – because of both the excited feeling before meeting your fellow PhD colleagues and the joyful, interesting, and valuable experience during the seminar sessions, social exchanges, professional development workshops and many more. A big thank you to the team at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the ISTR, the faculty members and all the fellow PhD students for making this experience possible. I am looking forward to seeing you at another seminar or conference.

 

 

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

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.

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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.

 

Time again for ISTR’s popular PhD seminar

Being a PhD student has never been easy! Learning the ropes, networking, writing and presenting papers, attending courses and much more. For us, when we were students, it was very much learning-by-doing process, and an important source of support in this process were the fellow PhD students and senior scholars we met at conferences and seminars along the way. It is because of these positive experiences from peer support groups that we are so enthusiastic about the ISTR PhD seminars. Therefore we very much look forward to next year’s event in Amsterdam, which takes place two days prior to the ISTR conference at Vrije Universiteit.

To that event we are warmly welcoming an exciting group of around 50 PhD students from many corners of the world. They will present and discuss their projects in a friendly environment facilitated by 12 senior scholars that are all engaged in civil society issues and committed to supporting junior scholars in their endeavors.

PhD Seminar 2014

2014 PhD Seminar Students – Muenster, Germany

Previous seminars have also offered a keynote lecture as well as workshops around various topics. This has been very popular, so we will continue this appreciated tradition. In addition to the work we will do facilitating peer feedback on the students’ research, we are also planning workshops around issues such as getting published, post-doc careers abroad and work-life balance.

However, ISTR’s PhD seminar is not only about projects, workshops and professors giving speeches. It is also a tremendous opportunity where we can create a sound foundation for future civil society research by connecting with scholars from all over the world, supporting and learning from each other, meeting old and new friends and just having a lot of fun.

Pelle-Åberg2

Pelle Åberg Co-chair, ISTR PhD Seminar and Associate Professor, Ersta Sköndal Bräcke University College, Stockholm, Sweden

Foto van Ophem

Rene Bekkers
Co-chair, ISTR PhD Seminar
Professor, Director of the Center  
for Philanthropic Studies
Vrije Universiteit
Amsterdam, the Netherlands

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.