Dean's letter: The Faculty of Graduate Studies is a Faculty like no other

Thomas Loebel

Thomas Loebel

The Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) is a Faculty like no other – in part because FGS is pan-university, co-ordinating 10 Faculties’ diverse graduate learning, training, researching and creating missions. We are a hub, enabling program administrators, professors and students to share best practices and collaborate in developing the types of regulations and guidelines that promote, rather than stifle, new ideas. “Regulations and guidelines? How exciting!” And they are, but they are also tricky to get right, to phrase with foresight and responsibility: innovatio, cura, fidelitas and some gravitas. For instance, in this issue, you will learn how students and professors took up the challenge to devise new thesis and dissertation guidelines to enable the diversity of innovative research that graduate students are producing at York. Gone is the monograph? Never. But so many students think and create across platforms, in multiple languages, codes and new media. How can the august function of the thesis or dissertation – grossly put, knowledge dissemination for the initial purpose of degree-level assessment by a team of experts – not just accommodate but rather facilitate multimodal and openly accessible forms and vice versa?

Annually, FGS seeks to promote graduate students’ work through everything from scholarship and awards adjudication to different in-person celebrations, during which students talk about their research and share ideas. The lemon of the pandemic cancelled not just these events, but also our annual Three-Minute Thesis event, in which students practised communicating their research and its significance to a public audience.  Lemonade became "Knowledge Now," comprising not only an ever-growing series of short videos shared via our social media channels, but also panel discussions in which students from diverse disciplines come together to discuss pressing issues. If you want to hear about some of the ways in which York is furthering the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals embedded in the University Academic Plan, then just listen to our students.

Student development is a constant focus of the Faculty. Intellectual development is the core, and it drives so much personal development during the graduate school experience.  That experience can be highly pressurized at times. An experiment fails. A qualifying examination looms. The cursor on the blank screen becomes Morse code: SOS. Grad Wellness at FGS is here to help – and help it does. Read about how just one of our grad-specific wellness services – the Certificate in Personal Wellness & Learning Skills – has helped students to gain a new relation to their abilities and move forward with new confidence. What comes after graduate school, however, can also generate great anxiety.  “What sort of career do I want? Will it arise inside or outside of academe?” “Can I continue researching outside of the University? Where?” “I worked with NGOs and community groups for my research, but how do I translate a fieldwork experience into a career?” Just as with personal development, students’ needs of professional development are so diverse. One size fits all is usually just uncomfortable. There are so many professional development workshops being offered everywhere at York – by programs, with supervisors, through the Career Centre, the Libraries, Faculties and FGS – that everywhere can feel like nowhere without guidance, discussion and a way to curate an individualized program of professional development. By doing so, one can also identify gaps, plan ahead over the length of the degree and work with the available resources at York – FGS being a central, co-ordinating hub – to access the supports you need.

If you find this edition of 'Innovatus' inspiring, then please visit the FGS website and social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube) for more information about what is possible for graduate study at York.


Thomas Loebel,
Dean and Associate Vice-President Graduate

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