Rhodes Faculty of Education celebrates 10 years of PhD weeks

Rhodes University Faculty of Education is celebrating 10 years of running PhD weeks from today (16 March) to 20 March 2015 at the new Education Lecture Theatre.

As part of the celebrations, the Department will be welcoming 25 Swedish PhDs and their professor for the 2015 PhD week.

For the first PhD week in March 2015, we have a total of 95 PhD scholars and their lecturers in attendance with 31 of these being lecturers and PhD scholars from Sweden’s Umea University’s School of Education.  

“This is our biggest PhD week, and our first where we have had an international group of PhD’s joining us from another continent”, said Murray & Roberts Chair of Environmental Education and Sustainability Professor Heila Lotz-Sisitka. “This facilitates international exchange of knowledge in education, and develops understanding of how research and education systems work in diverse contexts”

“The PhD weeks provide an opportunity for our PhD scholars to ‘test their ideas’ in a scholarly community, and to bring issues into debate during the PhD journey,” added Professor Lotz-Sisitka.

The Education Faculty PhD weeks were established to strengthen PhD scholarship, and to create scholarly communities where PhD level research issues can be debated and discussed. These range from issues related to social theory and methodology or how to work with research questions in relation to context, evidence, quality and analysis.

The PhD weeks are highly appreciated by the PhD scholars.  The Education Faculty reports that PhDs that attend PhD weeks regularly are also likely to complete their PhDs in good time. 

Through interaction with other PhD scholars, the possibility exists to develop wider perspective on postgraduate research which is helpful if one goes on to providing research supervision after the PhD.

“As the PhD offerings in the Faculty expanded after introduction of the Higher Education Studies PhD programme, the PhD weeks also expanded, and one can regularly expect up to 60 PhD scholars from the Faculty gathering at any one PhD week,” said Prof Lotz-Sisitka.

“Normally the scholars meet in two groups – one co-ordinated by Professor Sioux McKenna for CHERTL and one co-ordinated by Professor Lotz-Sisitka and colleagues from the Department of Education. As both groups are in the Faculty of Education, they also seek to provide shared sessions,” she added.  

The thematic focus of the March 2015 PhD Week which is "Education, the public good and transformative practices: Understanding our research as a contribution nationally and globally.

“We have been preparing for this for a while and many of our PhDs will be presenting short papers on their work, which focus on their contribution to the field of education,” said Professor Lotz-Sisitka.

“We also have a number of our lecturers and professors presenting, and some of the Swedish professors will also be presenting sessions.  Additionally, Prof le Grange from Stellenbosch University will join us for a guest lecture on Wednesday morning,” she said. 

She said they will have sessions for PhD students to present their PhD papers and a number of workshops will also be run, for example on “making arguments in your thesis – and making your thesis into an argument”.

The PhD weeks were started in late 2004 by Professors Lotz-Sisitka and Rob O’Donoghue, involving a small group of approximately 15-20 PhD scholars in the Education Faculty.

2015 Faculty of Education PhD week programme

Source:  Communications and Marketing

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