Professional Development Workshops

Formal training as a historian takes place in classes and seminars, writing a cognate paper, taking comprehensive exams, and producing a doctoral dissertations. But there are other facets to an academic career, including public speaking, networking, effective writing, publishing, applying for grants, and teaching. These are not always addressed directly or explicitly in formal studies. The purpose of the PDW is to help prepare graduate students for the many "other" parts of an academic career (as well as careers outside academe). These sessions are intended for Graduate Students in the History Department. If you want to attend, please consult with the series coordinator, Francine McKenzie.

2023-2024 Schedule

September 14: How Professional Are You?: Academics and Professional Development
Michael Feagan, Erin Isaac, Sara Khorshid, Francine McKenzie, and Nancy Rhoden

As soon as you start your graduate program, you are expected to behave professionally as a student, colleague and teacher. However, we don’t always articulate what academic professionalism entails. In this session, we will discuss elements of professional academic conduct (such as discretion, confidentiality, privacy, academic honesty, punctuality, respect, advocacy) and how you can develop an individual professional style that works best for you and upholds general standards.

September 28: Put Away the Red Pen: Marking Student Assignments
Mitch Hammond, Erin Isaac and Rob MacDougall

As teaching and marking assistants, you are an important member of a teaching team. Your goal in marking assignments is a big part of the students’ experience in a class. In this session, we will think about how to grade student work – providing constructive feedback and assigning a grade – that advances the objectives of the class and is a productive learning experience for students. 

October 12: So Much to Read, So Little Time: Strategies for Effective Reading
Najmeh Keyhani (Learning Development and Success), Frank Schumacher and Hazel Scott Pankratz

As graduate students, you read all the time – for seminars, comprehensive fields, research papers, cognate papers and theses, tutorials and lectures. But there are not enough hours in a reasonable workday to get through it all. In this meeting, we will discuss different reading strategies so that you can read deeply, widely and effectively.

November 9: Researching from the Comfort of Home: Using Digital Archives
Jason Dyck (Western Libraries), Charan Mandur, and Bill Turkel

The digitization of archival collections has expanded the possibilities for historical research. The recent pandemic reinforced the value of digital repositories. This session helps you to find digital archives and learn how to work with digital collections.

November 23: Leaving the Nest: Attending Academic Conferences
James Flath, Cody Groat, Cristina Stoica, and Carl Young

Presenting a paper at an academic conference is one of the main ways scholars develop and disseminate their ideas. It’s also an opportunity to introduce yourself to scholars working in your field of study. But when will you be ready to present a paper? What conferences should you attend? What do you do at a conference when you are not presenting? All these, and many more, questions will be answered!

January 11: Academic Writing in the 21st Century
Sara Khorshid and Alan MacEachern

Historical research is ultimately satisfying when we share our ideas. There are many forms of academic writing and many venues on which academics publish (although not always in an academic style). But how do you make contact with editors, a press, or a site manager? When are you ready to share your ideas? Will all publications help you to achieve your career goals? This session demystifies the writing and publication process.

February 29: Careers for Historians
Mike Dove, Craig Ingram (Career Education) and Laurel Shire 

As graduate students, you are deepening your knowledge of specific historical topics and refining your skills of research, writing, analysis, and communication. How does your specialised knowledge and skill set prepare you for careers beyond the academy? In this session, you will learn about the career support services at Western as well as some of the ways in which your historical training prepares you for a post-academic career.

March 14: Preparing for the MA Colloquium
Monda Halpern and Aldona Sendzikas

In late April, students in the MA program (general stream cognate and Year 1 thesis) present their topics at the department colloquium. This session explains how to prepare for your presentation so that you show the work you have done, demonstrate your knowledge of the field, convey the exciting possibilities for your topic, and elicit helpful feedback.