The British American Nineteenth Century Historians (BrANCH) is pleased to announce the addition of a new BAME essay prize of £100 for the best undergraduate essay or research project by black, Asian, or other minority ethnic students based in the UK.
The recent survey of our discipline undertaken by BrANCH, BAAS and HOTCUS, supported by reports published by the British Association of American Studies and the Royal Historical Society, has identified major obstacles to racial and ethnic diversity and inclusion in UK university History. One such obstacle is the progression of BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic) students from undergraduate to postgraduate level. As an organisation BrANCH is seeking to initiate positive and ongoing action in response to these obstacles.
We therefore invite submissions for our new, BAME undergraduate coursework essay prize of work written on any area of American history in the long nineteenth century by students identifying as BAME and in their second or third year of undergraduate study (third or fourth year in Scottish HEIs). Work should be 2500-3500 words in length, to include notes but exclude bibliography. While we expect the thematic content to be broad, judges will look for level of knowledge, writing style, degree of original thinking and overall quality of the piece.
Submissions should be sent by EITHER academic staff OR student to BrANCH EDI Officer Andrea Livesey (A.Livesey@ljmu.ac.uk), including a letter from any lecturer in the department confirming author’s registration on an undergraduate course. Please include a permanent mailing address and email address for the student.
Deadline for submissions: Monday 13th May 2019
The winning entry will be announced in June, with the prize of £100 sent directly to the successful student.
More information about BrANCH and the competition can be found on their website: https://branchuk.wordpress.com/grants-and-prizes/branch-bame-essay-prize/
You can also follow them on Twitter @Branch19th
Below we collect some perspectives from participants in the New to Teach event that was held at the IHR in September 2018. Sponsored by the Royal Historical Society, HUK provided travel funding to enable participants from outside London to attend. We share some of their thoughts below.
Amy King (Bristol)
With the start of my new job looming (thanks in no small part to the Academic Job Boot Camp earlier this year!), I was delighted to sign up for the New To Teaching training held in September. The day started with an introduction to writing new courses, including an overview of the principles of backwards design and some practical exercises to get us started. Needless to say, I feel much less daunted by the prospect of writing two new modules this year thanks the session! We were also given a taste of how to use digital humanities to improve the student experience, shown some exciting examples of the use of social media in the classroom, and given some top tips and tricks for delivering lectures and seminars. Thank you to History UK for another brilliant, practical training day; I look forward to putting what we learned into practice in the new academic year.
Marc Collinson (Bangor)
Although I have taught seminars for four years, being offered the opportunity to convene a module for the first time had proved daunting. Likewise, my simultaneous entering the Job market after just shy of four years enrolled on a PhD forced me to reassess my employment situation – was I fully equipped? Was I prepared? The session was enlightening in helping me to consider the fundamentals of lecturing, seminar leading and course design – revisiting these in a friendly environment was fruitful and encouraging. This session helped me ignore some of the pettier concerns I had and prepare to rethink what I could do differently, it also made me more confident for an interview for a post-doc I had the following week. At time of writing, I had not heard back, but I felt more prepared for the interview, and comfortable with the line of questioning. I would thoroughly recommend others attend this event in future. Even if you think you are a good tutor, it is important to be able to reflect and reassess. That is, after all, a cornerstone of the teaching in higher education.
Liz Brooker (Leicester)
Having done a PGCE in Secondary History, I thought I would attend this course to update my practice now that I am teaching in Higher Education. I thought the course was very well structured and it covered lots of different teaching styles such as small group teaching and lecturing. I found these sessions useful and have tried to implement some of the strategies in my own teaching. The careers development session at the end of the day was very informative. It was especially nice to hear the thoughts and experiences of the other academics in attendance.
Thomas Davies (Bangor)
The History UK New to Teaching event was a thoroughly enjoyable day, raising some interesting points and encouraging thought on how to structure lessons, how to engage students and ensure they obtain as much as possible from lectures and seminars, providing a forum for discussion with peers and with an opportunity also to discuss with individuals experienced in teaching techniques. I have managed to incorporate some of the ideas in semester of teaching – together this has helped in my professional development and made me keen to continue teaching in the future!
HUK will be running a one-day workshop for school and university teachers at Leeds Beckett University on Friday 11th May 2018.
The event is designed to support an exchange of information between history teachers in schools and universities in order to enhance understanding about issues in transition between these two educational phases.
For more information and to sign up, follow this link.
Dr Simon Peplow is the new ECR representative on the History UK Steering Committee. He is currently Lecturer in History (Education and Scholarship) at the University of Exeter, and tweets as @simpep.
In this blog post, Simon sets out his views on how he sees this role and his plans for the coming year.
As another teaching term begins, I return to my busy calendar having actually been able to have some ‘downtime’ over the Christmas break, away from the usual teaching/marking/research pressures – albeit this being enforced downtime, due to developing a particularly nasty cold. Debate has raged (on Twitter, as it often does) over the hours that academics work, and whether you are ‘failing’ at academia if you either work on evenings/weekends or maintain a strict 9–5 working week. However, the point I wish to make here is simply that the ability to take some time off, safe in the knowledge that a job (and salary!) awaits our return, is for many of us not something we are able to enjoy during the summer months.
Having completed my History PhD at the University of Exeter in 2015, I have since remained here on short-term teaching contracts. While I have been, in many ways, fortunate that such opportunities were available, the pressures (both financial and psychological) of fractional temporary contracts and the inability to plan further than the short-term is something with which I have battled. An increasing amount of my time has been spent on job applications, chasing potential funding opportunities, and being unsure what the next academic year will look like until just weeks (or even days) before it begins.
Prior to commencing my PhD, the one issue that I was repeatedly warned about was that it was a lonely existence; that the duration of my PhD years would be spent alone in empty libraries or dusty archives, only occasionally seeing others when we periodically emerged blinking into the light for a monthly research seminar or supervision meeting. Fortunately for me personally, the PhD experience was far from that, being a generally enjoyable period – with the usual intellectual/other challenges – and I consider many of those whom I met during those years to be among my closest friends.
However, I am aware that my positive PhD experience is not necessarily the case for others. I was reminded of my privileged position in this sense when reading Laura Sefton’s recent excellent comments on mental health and academic structures, demonstrating the often unacknowledged pressures of PhD study and the need for academia to become a more ‘accessible, inclusionary, and caring space’. Unfortunately, in my experience, many of the same pressures exist when transitioning into a more precarious ‘floating’ ECR position, when you might even have lost access to some of the support systems that previously existed.
The History UK plenary and AGM in November 2017 focused on collaboration, and that is very much the spirit in which I see this ECR representative role. As I have previously noted in discussion of the ‘Academic Boot Camp’ event, it is all too easy to see academia as a competition against peers in the race to obtain a permanent job, and to consider yourself a ‘failure’ if one is not forthcoming. However, it is of vital importance that PhDs/ECRs/academics of all levels support each other where possible, and it is often through bodies such as History UK that such support can really make a difference. Indeed, in the last year, History UK has organised another instalment of the Academic Boot Camp to help equip PhDs/ECRs for the job market, further New to Teaching events have provided invaluable advice and support for those beginning or developing a university teaching profile, and other events and activities have supported historians at all stages of their careers.
It is in this vein that I hope to use my role to provide helpful advice and support for history PhDs/ECRs in the coming year. This will involve writing blogs and encouraging friends and colleagues to contribute posts and advice on a range of topics, such as balancing teaching and research, finishing the PhD, creating and obtaining a position on postdoc projects, the benefits of engaging with the public through research, and the many options available outside of academia. This is, of course, in addition to acting as a voice for PhDs/ECRs in History UK meetings and discussions – and I please encourage anyone to get in contact with any thoughts or suggestions. Due to a variety of factors, the pressures on academics at all levels are arguably higher than ever before – but, as always, the best way to get through them is with the help of support networks that can be provided by bodies such as this one.
In November 2016, Dr Sara Wolfson, a Senior Lecturer in Early Modern History and member of the History UK Steering Committee was honoured by the Times Higher Education awards as the Most Innovative Teacher of the Year. This award was sponsored by the Higher Education Academy (HEA) who selected Dr Wolfson, as she “brings alive the past for students using workshops rather than traditional lectures on her courses in order to keep undergraduates engaged” (HEA). Key innovations within Dr Wolfson’s courses are the use of online debates for assessment; role-playing and re-enactments to understand key early modern trials and events; making use of the early modern environment of Canterbury Cathedral; and an embedded public facing poster exhibition for her second year course, Sex, Deviance and Death in early modern England. Dr Wolfson brings her contacts and networks in the heritage and history sectors into the teaching space to not only develop students’ historical knowledge and skills development, but also to foster collaboration with external parties as a means of enhancing the undergraduate curriculum. In August 2017, Dr Wolfson was interviewed by Chris Parr, the Times Higher Education‘s Digital and Communities Editor on ‘What does good university teaching look like’.