2023/24: An Academic Year to Remember


2023/24: An Academic Year to Remember

2023/24 was – as ever – a busy year both in the classroom and beyond. Here is a recap of what we got up to.

We started with a bang – quite literally – as we took our new students on a field trip to Betteshanger Park as part of our welcome week activities. They heard first hand testimony from a group of ex-miners who had been very active in the strikes and later we all did some teambuilding by shooting at each other in a game of battle archery. It was Students v Staff and of course the students won hands down!  Read the full story here.

Another important milestone was reached when our PhD student Kehinde Abolarin successfully defended his thesis: “Space technology as a centrepiece for addressing Nigeria’s domestic challenges and strengthening its foreign relations”. Kehinde has done the almost impossible and found a permanent academic post at Liverpool John Moores University, continuing our excellent track record in PhD graduate employability.

Teaching involved the regular mix of group work and presentations, guest speakers and panic about deadlines but in December we had a trip to Parliament to look forward to.  

As in previous years, students toured the Houses of Parliament and met with some of our graduates who were working for MPs (Ellie Varley, Christine Wallace and Andrew Achilleos) or in the Civil Service (John Smith and Christian Turner). They gave tips about how to use the time at university wisely in order to pursue a similar path in future. The students’ account of the experience is here.

After a hectic term providing fabulous teaching experiences and doing everything else expected of lecturers these days, the team did manage to have an evening off for a Christmas party. Smiles all round.

Semester 2 brought more interesting teaching and guest speaker sessions, lots of outreach with schools and some great opportunities for students to meet with graduates and think about their future career options. We had a big School-wide event which showcased the astonishing array of careers open to graduates with politics or other social science degrees in March. This featured politics and IR graduates now working in PR, Civil Service, NGOs such as Action Aid and Peace Direct and Migrant Help.

We also had our annual Working in Diplomacy hybrid event. Full details here.

Third years had their trip to Brussels in April. They had a fantastic and packed itinerary and came back enthused but exhausted. Sarah’s diary is linked here.

We lecturers also kept up our research activities. We have been publishing books and peer reviewed articles and featuring on podcasts, live radio and TV to talk about current affairs. We want our work to have impact and so we are also working with different groups in the public and private sector to share our knowledge. Most of the team went to one of the two major UK research conferences – PSA and BISA – to network and test their ideas.

Sarah Lieberman also had a wonderful experience earlier this year when one of our graduates Bronwen Halfpenny-Ray, now head of strategy at the UK Space Agency, was a keynote speaker at an event Sarah organised in her role as convenor of the BISA Astropolitics working group.

As the semester drew to a close, the university organised its Futures Day – a new initiative to build a community of alumni, local businesses, supporters, and students. To raise funds for the student hardship fund Professor Bates volunteered for the Gunge Tank Challege. His commitment to student support was never in doubt but this was definitely a case of going above and beyond. He raised £210 for this incredibly worthy cause.

 On the last day of term we had a lovely farewell party for our final year students. They were a great bunch and we wish them well for the future – and hope some stay and do our Masters in Security and IR.

Speaking of the Masters programme, we also had a wonderful group of students hailing from all over the world. They brought so much enthusiasm to the classroom and shared insights which made our learning experience truly global. They are not finished yet as their dissertations are still in progress but we hope they will go home to spread the good news about the great learning experience we offer.

And then, just when we thought we could unwind a little, a General Election was announced…

We have two graduates running for Parliament this time – we wish them both the best. We love to see our graduates put themselves forward to make a difference whatever party they represent!

It’s all systems go right now planning the Hustings and one final event to involve staff, students and our community before we take a deep breath and start getting ready for next year!

To book click here: https://www.canterbury.ac.uk/events/2024/hustings-general-election

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