This should come as no surprise. The PhD process
trains individuals to be adaptive and resilient,
important characteristics in a rapidly changing
Programs to develop both professional and
“soft” skills, such as communications, working
as part of a team and interpersonal skills, are
becoming more common within graduate educa
tion. Experiential learning opportunities beyond
the dissertation research, which is by its very
nature experiential, are also increasing in order
to provide “real world” experience by engaging
external partners. The Mitacs Accelerate pro
gram is an oftcited example from which we can
learn. But the time has come to integrate those
“real world” opportunities within the PhD pro
gram of study in order to mitigate prolonging
degree completion times.
Whether it is addressing global or technolo
gical challenges, or working within communities,
success is more likely to come from the efforts of
a team with complementary skills and expertise.
Corporations understand this and form teams
with combined relevant expertise (e.g. cultural
knowledge, engineering design and biomedical
expertise) to improve outcome and implementa
tion. Universities, and students themselves, rec
ognize the importance of cultivating team skills.
This was a main message from students at the
conclusion of the Imagining Canada’s Future
project organized last year by the Canadian Asso
ciation for Graduate Students in partnership with
the Social Sciences and Humanities Research
Council. Also striking was the responsibility the
students felt to authentically engage with col
leagues, communities and the world. Yet most
PhD programs have not been structured to pro
vide opportunities for multidisciplinary collab
oration and shared learning. Our responsibility
is to improve on that and to do so in short order.
Education is never an individual or solely an
institutional endeavour. More than ever, we need
to consider it a communal undertaking built on
partnerships and shared values that, planned
well, reap both individual and societal returns.
PhD holders raise that bar by driving productiv
ity through research, innovation and creativity.
To extend these opportunities requires multi
sectoral investment, vision and attitudinal desire
to support growth and development. Canada
should be up to it – our PhDs certainly are.
CBC radio explores work of PhDs
Ideas from the Trenches turns dissertations into
From PhD to Life
Stalled career search? Don’t give up
Research budgeting for scientists
To avoid running a deficit it’s important to plan ahead
Vous avez le droit de ne pas terminer
Il n’y a pas de honte à passer à autre chose
Reimagining the humanities
PhD, take 2
Ideas welcome at conference at Carleton U in May
What’s new online!
Nouveautés en ligne!