BEAR Network Mobility Exchange: Holly Rodgers
My name is Holly Rodgers. I am currently a First Year PhD Student in the PAIS department at the University of Warwick. Between 10th and 20th September 2022 I visited the University of Montreal in Canada for a graduate exchange as part of the Jean Monnet Network “Between the EU and Russia” (BEAR) to work with Prof. Magdalena Dembinska. This visit built on my recently submitted MA thesis “The Puzzling Foreign Policy Behaviour of Poland towards Belarus” and was facilitated by my MA dissertation supervisor at PAIS, Prof. Maria Koinova, as an excellent fit with the thematic discussions within the BEAR network of which Warwick is part. In turn, my visit to Canada was aimed to enhance the development of my Ph.D thesis, focusing on memory, identity and nostalgic discourse in post-Soviet EU member states.
Located at the EU Jean Monnet Centre in Montreal, I had the opportunity to meet and network with other Ph.D. students also researching the EU, and other doctoral candidates at their Graduate Center, whose topics were thematically close to mine. I met also academic faculty whose willingness was incredible to discuss my research plan, theoretical focus, and operationalisation of difficult concepts such as identity. Their feedback during individual conversations was superb. In that short time span, I was given my own office to work in, and an opportunity to present my research plans to a larger academic audience. The seminar set was a perfect opportunity for me to practice presentation skills in a friendly environment and to get useful feedback on aspects of my early research – conceptual and methodological – that need finetuning. This was an excellent experience for me to justify my Ph.D. project in the ways it has been designed, and to build my skills for the forthcoming First Year Review at PAIS, and ultimately for the viva.
This visit to the University of Montreal will be invaluable for my further Ph.D. studies. Not only did it offer a new perspective, but the feedback and expertise academics shared with me have given me plenty of food for thought about my research plans. I feel that my Ph.D. project has evolved because of this visit. Short but clearly fruitful 10 days in Montreal, full of 1:1 meetings, a seminar, and informal conversations with colleagues seem like a condensed indicator of what is to come on my PhD journey – and for that I am incredibly grateful.