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PhD students at CBS missed having a community, so they created their own

Niels Hulgård and Alina Grecu are in the board of the new PhD association at CBS - PAC. (Photo: Anne M. Lykkegaard)

CBS has its first PhD association, PAC. It is initiated by PhD students who longed for a proper community to connect with, and a place to develop opinions and strategies for PhDs at CBS. And they also want to have fun.

News |   28. Jun 2019

Anne M. Lykkegaard

Journalist

Life as a PhD student can be a bit lonely. They often work on their own projects and might work in a department with a number of other PhD students. But the truth is that CBS has around 200 PhD students scattered across its 11 departments, and a group of PhD students want to bring them together in a new association called PAC – PhD Association at CBS.

“Aarhus University and DTU have long traditions of having PhD associations, but CBS hasn’t had one as there have been too few PhD students. But we’re about 200 now and counting. For example, my department is about to hire five new PhD students. So it felt like the right time to start an association,” says Alina Grecu, PhD Fellow at the Department of Strategy and Innovation and Chair of PAC

The main objective of the association is to create a community in which the PhDs can share knowledge, meet each other, establish networks, and maybe even start collaborations across departments, explains Niels Hulgård, PhD Fellow at the Department of Accounting and Vice Chair at PAC.

“PhD students are both employees and students. At CBS, however, you don’t really get the feeling that there’s a student body to connect with. So we want to make sure that everyone knows about this association and community when they start,” he says.

Part of the association’s plan is to draw up a strategy for the whole group of PhD students and engage in collaboration with the PhD School at CBS about various themes that the PhDs are concerned with.

Niels Hulgård explains that the PhDs are a diverse group with different backgrounds – both academically and in terms of nationality. And this needs to be taken into account in how the PhD students are treated in the departments.

“Having an association means that we can discuss what we would like to do as a group and make sure that our interests are taken into account when necessary. And this is what we need to do now and in the coming months in addition to drawing up the statutes and start outlining a strategy,” he says.

You’re not alone

The idea for the PhD association at CBS originated from the national association for PhD students, PAND. It represents PhDs at the eight Danish universities, regardless of whether they come from a local PhD association or not.

The main idea is that people realize that they’re not the only ones sitting alone in their office – there are others in the same position too

Niels Hulgård

From CBS, it was Alison E. Holm and Vanya Rusinova who were the representatives last year, and earlier this year Alina Grecu, together with Agnes Guenther joined and through that discovered that CBS didn’t have a PhD association.

So they all discussed it, and the first meeting about establishing a PhD association at CBS was held on May 21.

“About 30 PhD students showed up, and luckily they were all very excited about the initiative. Even those who for different reasons couldn’t attend were very happy about the idea and explained that they would be happy to help out,” says Alina Grecu.

At the meeting, the participants discussed the outline of PAC, which will be based on three pillars: politics, professional and social.

“The part about politics, for example, means that we want to focus on having a representative CBS voice at the national level. It also covers that we’re in the middle of a merger of three PhD schools, and, as PhD students, we might want to have a say in that process, as we’re interested in working with it,” says Alina Grecu.

The professional pillar is based on the issues of connecting to other PhD students professionally at CBS, as well as supporting the individual career path of CBS’ PhDs.

“Some don’t realize that there are others who might work in the same field, and that’s due to the fact that, on a departmental level, there are very few PhDs. But, combined, there are quite a lot. So we need to be better at connecting,” says Niels Hulgård and explains that it could be interesting to share experiences and thoughts on career choices as academia offers very few positions.

And the last pillar covers the social aspect.

“We want to have fun and make PhD life easier. A recent survey about PhDs’ working conditions, show that doing a PhD can be a lonely job. But it doesn’t have to be if you have a community you can to turn to,” says Alina Grecu.

Alina Grecu and Niels Hulgård envisage that the association will have its own platform – either at CBS.dk or the intranet Share – so that the PhDs can find relevant information easily and share valuable knowledge about life in Copenhagen and other things of interest.

“It might seem obvious to have such a place, but it hasn’t existed until now. But the main idea is that people realize that they’re not the only ones sitting alone in their office – there are others in the same position too,” says Niels Hulgård.

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