Travel Grant Report by Nihan Albayrak
01.08.2018, by Tina Keil in grant report
London School of Economics and Political Science, UK; Attendance at the EASP Summer School 2018 in Zürich/Switzerland
Thanks to the EASP Postgraduate Travel Grant, I had the privilege and pleasure of attending the EASP Summer School that took place at the University of Zürich between 1 July and 14 July. I was one of the students in the “Migration and Integration: Social and Community Psychology Perspectives” workshop, which was run by Carolin Hagelskamp from the Berlin School of Economics and Law and Rupert Brown from the University of Sussex.
Students from five different workshops were expected to design research projects in two weeks and present these projects to everyone on the last day of the Summer School. With this aim, in our workshop, we spent the first week by brainstorming ideas and creating a couple of options for our project through constructive discussions. At this point, the reading list we had before coming the Summer School came in handy to create a common ground among us. Towards the end of the week, we decided on the topic of our project: Multiple identities in context. In the second week, we worked on our collective enterprise and prepared for our presentation. In effect, we went a little bit ahead and began drafting a grant application.
Unlike other workshops in which students were split into smaller groups and worked on different projects, all students in our workshop worked on a big single project. Each one of us had a different background and this provided us with everyone’s unique contribution to our collective work. In effect, showing the true meaning of research collaboration, working with eleven other students and two different teachers on the same project was such a stimulating experience for me. On the ‘glorious’ final presentations day, hearing out what students from other workshops did was really interesting as well. It helped us to get familiar with each other’s research skills and interests.
Workshop activities were not the only academic events we had in the Summer School. We also had a chance to attend the plenary lectures from the teachers of other workshops, apart from our own teachers. Sabine Sczesny from the University of Bern gave a talk on gender stereotypes as a consequence and cause of gender equality. Barry Markovsky from the University of South Carolina and Klaus Fiedler from the University of Heidelberg talked about building and testing theories. Ruud Custers from the University of Utrecht and Baruch Eitam from the University of Haifa made a presentation about motivation and control. Dara Sorkin and Karen Rook from the University of California, Irvine discussed social relationships and chronic illnesses within at-risk populations. From each of these lectures, I gained valuable insight into different fields of social psychology and learned a lot of practical information -hopefully to be useful for my own research.
In addition, we had two more lectures on timely and critical topics by guest speakers. First, Matthias Mehl from the University of Arizona presented his work on mobile psychological science. Not only his approach to and critique of research methods were thoroughly seminal but also his modesty as a scientist was truly inspiring. Then, Naomi Ellemers from the Utrecht University spoke about having an impact and how researchers can make a difference in the real world. Her interactive talk was exceptionally encouraging for early-career researchers like us and provided us with hands-on tips to increase the impact of our research on applied settings.
One of the most beneficial moments of the Summer School was when Jean-Claude Croizet from the EASP Executive Committee came and introduced EASP to us in a friendly manner by explaining what EASP stands for and how we can benefit from and also contribute to the organisation. This talk especially showed us how valuable the Summer School experience is, not only for now but also for the future in terms of friendships and collaborations both inside and outside of academia. I’m almost certain that if we had a pre- and post-test of EASP identification, there would be a significant increase in the results.
The Summer School was not just about research and academia. Organisers did a great job balancing out academic and social programmes. We had a guided city tour given by fellow PhD students from the University of Zürich, an interactive visit to the Migros Museum of Contemporary Art followed by a barbecue, a hiking tour in Uetliberg with spectacular views of the city and nature, and finally a farewell party at a magnificent lakeside club. Moreover, we watched the World Cup games together, which were followed by late-night theoretical discussions on social issues.
On a final note, I was really impressed by how varied the students were in terms of the countries and universities they come from. Similarly, I really liked the fact that there was an equal split in terms of the gender of teachers, with five females and five males. I hope that in the future, there would be more students and teachers coming from minority backgrounds, so that this trend continues and leads to even more efforts to be inclusive for other minority groups.
I truly believe that attending this Summer School will be a milestone in my academic career. I would encourage everyone -especially PhD candidates from minority backgrounds- to apply for the next Summer School programme together with the postgraduate travel grant. Lastly, I would like to thank the EASP, the organisers (Johannes Ullrich, Veronika Brandstätter, Urte Scholz, Klaus Jonas, Irène Calanchina, Prisca Greiner, Therese Piwnik, & Susan McVey), the workshop teachers, and the Summer School friends, thanks to whom I had this unique and remarkable experience!