A new term for NiCHE New Scholars

The South Saskatchewan at Wanuskewin. Source: Justin Fisher

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The lives of new scholars – graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and recent PhD graduates – can feel precarious and overwhelming at the best of times, and as we are embarking on an unprecedented academic year in the midst of a global health crisis this term may feel especially daunting for many. The NiCHE New Scholars community exists to foster connections and mutual learning and support, and I believe that it can serve an important role in bringing people together at a very challenging time. Read on to learn about our plans for the term, and please do not hesitate to get in touch if you would like to be added to our mailing list (you can also follow on Twitter here!).

Our main way of connecting directly is through regular digital meetings. Last term we hosted lively meetings on the topics of community-engaged environmental history, animal history, and the outbreak of the ongoing pandemic and its effects on new scholars. We also launched the New Scholars Reading Club over the summer, which met three times and covered topics including hope in environmental history, racism, and seasonality. This term, our meetings will be alternating between the Reading Club, which will serve as our content-focused meetings, and support meetings meant to foster the sharing of advice for remote teaching and research.

Our first meeting will be focused on remote support and will take place next week. NiCHE executive members Claire Campbell, Jamie Murton, and Andrew Watson will be joining to share some of their experiences and best practices for remote work, as well as to answer questions and participate in the conversation with new scholars. If you are interested in joining, please add your availability to this poll by mid-week.

Our Reading Club will re-convene in November with details to be announced. If you have not already and would like to join the Club (which will meet only once in the fall term but will continue into the winter term) please see our initial call for participants for details on how to add your name.

One more exciting initiative that began this summer with the support of NiCHE New Scholars was #FlipTheList, which has been working for many weeks now to enrich and diversify environmental scholarship on Wikipedia. Organizers are encouraging folks to stay or get involved throughout this year as much work remains to be done. You can read more about this here, and look out for a #FlipTheList workshop as part of Environmental History Week in early 2021.

This next year will doubtless be highly demanding, and my hope is that the New Scholars community can offer a sense of connectedness and mutual support to help new scholars navigate its novel challenges. This network really is a community effort, and so if you have ideas for new initiatives, topics for discussion, or anything else New Scholars-related, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I look forward to connecting!

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Justin Fisher

Justin is a PhD candidate in Environmental History at the University of Saskatchewan. A settler from Treaty 6 territory in Saskatoon, his research is currently focused on energy history. Justin is also a community organizer and researcher with Climate Justice Saskatoon and the current NiCHE New Scholars representative. He loves lentils.

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