“Less Stress, More Confidence”: Supporting Junior Scholars Online at the Graduate Student International Political Economy Workshop

“Less Stress, More Confidence”: Supporting Junior Scholars Online at the Graduate Student International Political Economy Workshop

By Alexander Kirss, The George Washington University, Paul Ko, Dickinson College and Cleo O’Brien-Udry, Yale University

The COVID-19 pandemic did not affect all scholars equally. In particular, junior scholars—primarily doctoral students—faced challenges that may not have been immediately obvious to senior scholars. It was necessary to revise dissertation prospectuses and ongoing research as fieldwork became impossible and archival access was limited (Rowland 2021). Opportunities to present work disappeared as departmental seminars were canceled. Networking up with senior scholars and across with other junior scholars became more difficult as conferences moved online. Fears over a weak academic job market increased as junior scholars 1 faced an uncertain professional future. In response to these stressors, graduate students developed depressive and anxiety disorders at twice and 1.5 times the pre-pandemic rate (Chirikov et al. 2020). In response to these pressures, we sought to build a graduate-student–led community focused on the work and professional needs of junior scholars. The Graduate Student International Political Economy (GSIPE) 2 workshop began on Twitter. We asked academics on the platform if an online workshop targeted at graduate students had an audience, and the answer was a resounding “yes.” More than a year later, we are the proud founders of an active virtual community of more than 550 international political economy (IPE) researchers from 260 institutions and 28 countries (figure 1) who collectively organized 36 weekly workshops and five mini-conferences and panels from June 2020 to May 2021. 3 As figure 2 demonstrates, the majority of our members as well as all of our workshop presenters are doctoral students. Under new leadership, GSIPE plans to continue hosting virtual workshops while transitioning the workshop to include in-person events at conferences.

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