As I’m writing this on a sunny March morning, reflecting on my past year as the blog co-ordinator for RGS-PGF – there is a mixture of both achievement and sadness. As a group, we came together and faced a predicament that no other postgraduate committee before us has faced. On our first meeting, we had to figure out how we could help support postgraduates whose own work and lives had potentially been thrown out by everything 2020 offered. We have never met in person yet bonded as a team through our monthly meetings and digital events. It was something stable in the unstable situation we were all, and still are, experiencing. I’m feeling sadness because for me and the rest of the committee; our time is coming to an end.
As we move into 2021/22; there is a new opportunity. We were the digital team, the ones who finetuned online potential to pass down knowledge to those who come after us. The next committee have their own exciting challenge ahead – taking that digital baton and reintroducing it back to the world outside.
So, why join RGS-PGF?
- The ability to connect and work on projects with geographers outside of your university and existing network.
- To help support fellow postgraduates and bring about the type of community you would like to see.
- To connect with the RGS at a working level to promote postgraduate issues.
- To develop skills that may help future employment in a space that is supportive.
- Most importantly, to be able to do something other than writing your thesis!
You might be reading these and thinking but what about this or that… well here are a few of potential worries that I can hopefully clear up for you:
Worry 1: I just won’t have the time
The RGS-PGF is a voluntary position. You can contribute as much or as little time as you like and as a team, you’ll figure this out. Time commitment changes from role and time of the year, however if you have 30 minutes to an hour to spare a week, there’s a role for you. Your thesis always comes first and being part of RGS-PGF is meant to be the fun side project.
Worry 2: I have no idea what I would do!
Psst. Don’t worry. When you first start you will receive a handover from the existing committee member, and they will be there to answer any questions. As the first wholly digital committee we had to figure out how all this would work. We made a couple of mistakes, played around with different ideas and in the end, everything was absolutely fine. In particular, our Twitter Conference was scary at first – would anyone be bothered? What if we tripped up on social media? Looking back, it was one of the best things we did as a committee and it was a success. Anyway, the role is for you to take it in whichever way you see fit, learn from the past but please take it forward into the future.
Worry 3: I’m at the start/end of my PhD… is this really for me?
The RGS-PGF is open to everyone at any stage in their PhD. Starting earlier means you can do a year and then move into the Chair position. Coming along later means you can bring all the experience you’ve had as a postgraduate into the role. I joined as Blog Coordinator in my 4th year, which some would probably say is crazy. However, for me it was nice to have something else to think about other than the thesis.
Worry 4: Isn’t this more for human geographers?
Absolutely not! The RGS-PGF is for everyone and we certain want physical geographers to apply.
If you are wondering where you might fit in, the flowchart below might help you see where you can fit in.
All positions are open to any geographer at any stage of their PhD; with almost all requiring no previous committee experience. The only position which needs prior experience is the chair position. As the leader of the committee, ideally the chair would come from a previous year as a committee member or as a PGR rep. If we cannot recruit from these two cohorts, then we will open applications for chair to all current PGRs. All further information regarding this will be released on our social media channels.
Finally, why not hear from a few of our current committee members on why they joined and what they achieved by being a member:
I have really enjoyed my year as Chair of the Postgraduate Forum. Though there was uncertainty at the start of this committee’s term over what the year would look like, I am proud to look back on a year full of online events through which we’ve continued to offer opportunities for, and engage with, the postgraduate geography community. If you’re passionate about geography, and would like to meet and work with a range of people from across the discipline, I would highly recommend applying for the Chair role. You’ll be working alongside some equally enthusiastic geographers, your PGF committee, to put on events and provide support for people across the UK and beyond. Seeing everyone interact during one of the events you’ve worked to put together is a really great feeling!
Aimee Morse – Chair
It was really nice to work for the PGF as a whole, I enjoyed the diversity of events I took part in. The commitment was low in terms of hours every month, apart from the organisation of definite events. I enjoyed meeting other researchers outside my research bubble and working as a team on the event’s organisation!
Théo Lenormand – ACTS Officer
I’ve really enjoyed my time working as Website Officer for the PGF. I’ve got to be involved with the organisation of some really exciting online events like the Twitter conference and the upcoming Mid-Term whilst meeting new people from a range of geographic backgrounds and developing my skills using different web-based platforms.
Rob Booth – Website Officer
If you want a taste of what may happen during a committee year, our 2020 roundup blog post would be a good read.
If you are even a little bit interested, please send in an application using this application form. It should take no more than 10-15 minutes. Or if you know someone you think would be perfect for the 2021/22 committee then please pass on and share our outreach posts on Twitter. We are the future of geography, so let’s have an active role in helping our fellow postgraduates and shape the discipline to come.
By Helen Johnson – Blog Co-Ordinator 2020-21