Call for Abstracts: "Departments as Villages: Re-imagining Graduate Student Relationships," at NeMLA, in Hartford, CT, March 17-20, 2016

Sarah Heidebrink-Bruno's picture
Call for Papers
September 15, 2015
Connecticut, United States
Subject Fields: 
Health and Health Care, Cultural History / Studies, Demographic History / Studies, Intellectual History

Many people are familiar with the expression, “It takes a village to raise a child,”— perhaps, the same is true of graduate students. As graduate programs and the academic job market become increasingly competitive, many graduate students receive the implicit message that their fellow students are solely their competitors, both within a program and afterwards, rather than colleagues. This kind of tension can lead to students feeling disconnected from and unsupported by the very people who are sharing a similar struggle. However, this roundtable discussion seeks to explore the ways in which graduate students (both within programs and across disciplines) can grow their “villages,” in order to develop more communal and compassionate environments, which can improve their mental health and the integrity of their programs overall. The speakers in this roundtable will be especially interested in the intersections of academia and social justice, with an understanding that social justice work begins not in theoretical discussions, but in practice, beginning with one’s home department and institution. Speakers may highlight personal experiences to provide pragmatic advice for fellow students who work in institutions where student unions either do not or cannot exist, and graduate students are therefore forced to come up with creative alternatives to address their unique needs and grievances.

Possible topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Graduate student advocacy efforts, within departments and across universities
  • Information access and sharing
  • Mentorship and support networks
  • Family/ parental leave
  • Negotiating medical needs, such as depression, anxiety, etc. and health insurance
  • Non-traditional research interests
  • Multi-cultural influences
  • Working class backgrounds
  • First-generation graduate students
  • Humanist and/or feminist pedagogies (such as a feminist ethics of care), etc.

Interested parties should submit abstracts (of 250-300 words) briefly describing their ideas for the roundtable discussion. Please also include a brief biography (of a few sentences). Handouts or multi-media presentations are also encouraged. Abstracts should be emailed to Sarah Heidebrink-Bruno, at, by midnight on September 15, 2015.

Contact Info: 

Please contact the roundtable organizer, Sarah Heidebrink-Bruno, at

Contact Email: