ZIMM Student Fellows Working Group & Mentor Program

Participants: Julienne Obadia, Vasiliki Touhouliotis,Edward Wilcox, Jan Smolenski, Katinka Wijsman, Michelle Weitzel, Patrick Ciaschi, Jan Dutkiewicz, Svati Shah.

Directors: The group will be organized non-hierarchically.

The purpose of this group is to create an environment for sustained, long-term relationships among the members of the group and with the scholars and speakers invited by the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility, built around collaboration on student articles. The aim is to bring together The New School for Social Research’s advanced graduate students working on topics broadly related to migration and mobility with more experienced and well established academics. Participants in the group will present and share their works and articles- in-progress with the goal of developing them into publishable articles by the end of the academic year. The structure of this group – monthly meetings combining students across disciplines and including ZIMM visiting scholars, speakers, and some invited guests – will provide advanced students with feedback and comments from different disciplinary and methodological perspectives. In turn, this environment will accelerate the writing process, improve overall work through rigorous and frequent feedback, and push research in more innovative and substantially interdisciplinary directions.

Building on the experience of the Ethnography of Movement and Mobility and Borders Research Network groups, we want to find a middle way between the format of a single workshop/conference and a reading group organized around regular meetings. Thus the activities of the group will consist of regularly held meetings – approximately one per month – during which the group and an invited scholar, whether ZIMM speaker or otherwise, will provide extensive feedback on one or two pre-circulated student papers. Such a format should not only be conducive to sustaining close cooperation between the members of the group, but also to establish a system of mentorship and peer collaboration whereby students can benefit from the expertise of their fellow students, ZIMM affiliated faculty, and invited scholars.

The major short-term goal of this project is, therefore, to help students develop their work and research into publishable articles. At the end of the academic year 2015/2016, and in consultation with faculty advisors from ZIMM and individual PhD committees, these articles will be submitted for publication at journals appropriate to their subject matter. These articles, whether ultimately published or not, will constitute the tangible outcomes of the activities of the group. In addition, by fostering connections beyond NSSR and ZIMM and providing a system and space for sustained mentorship, this working group will help prepare participating students for post-doctoral academic work and life in two ways. First, by focusing on publishable articles rather than dissertation or proposal writing, the working group will help address the transition from dissertation writing into professional academia by stewarding the production of scholarly articles, key elements of successfully finding jobs and achieving tenure. Second, by incorporating ZIMM visiting scholars, speakers, and the occasional invited participant, the working group will provide opportunities for advanced graduate students to expand their networks and contacts both to improve their scholarship and to aid them in their marketability and job prospects.

Working together with ZIMM, we intend to cooperate with scholars invited by ZIMM (both speakers and visiting scholars) and invite two other academics of our choosing that would complement the existing group’s research interests. We are in the process of preparing the short list of possible guests. The long-term goal is to test this form of cooperation between students and invited scholars as a possible model of an ongoing Graduate Student Fellows program at ZIMM to be continued in the future. Such a program would add to the dynamism of the Zolberg Institute by establishing a regular cohort of graduate students, increasing occasions for structured and unstructured dialogue in conference rooms and corridors, and weaving ZIMM into NSSR student intellectual life. In order to collaborate, workshop, and publish at a rate that would benefit students and demonstrate the vibrancy of the Institute, we urge ZIMM and the Dean’s Office to consider providing a dedicated workspace for the ZIMM Student Fellows. Such a space would be invaluable to the creation of a congenial and rigorous intellectual atmosphere for ZIMM fellows and visiting scholars at all levels.