Karen Patel’s research is carried out with the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research. She is looking at how creative and cultural workers in a particular city use social media, and questioning its role in their personal and professional lives.

Karen previously completed her BA and MA with the Birmingham School of Media, and also currently works in the Research, Innovation and Enterprise department at Birmingham City University, running the web and social media presence for Research.

Last week we had our residential induction for the Midlands 3 Cities Doctoral Training Partnership in Nottingham.It was a fantastic two days that made me feel really lucky to be a part of this prestigious and unique scheme.

For a bit of background, Midlands 3 Cities is a new scheme with the usual features of a studentship (such as an annual stipend and fees paid for) but you also get the benefits of working across six universities in three cities in the Midlands. These are Birmingham City University, University of Birmingham, Nottingham Trent University, University of Nottingham, De Montfort University and University of Leicester. This means we can access training and expertise from all of those universities, and work collaboratively with fellow Midlands 3 Cities students on funded projects.

The projects were a particular feature of the residential, we spent most of the time working on our ideas for a Cohort Development Fund, which is available for us to carry out projects and events which would be of benefit to postgraduate researchers (PGRs) across the six institutions. My group, which included PGRs from all types of backgrounds (from poets to historians to musicians) came up with an idea for a series of workshops to help researchers with public speaking, media handling and communicating their work to a wider audience. We’re working on submitting our application formally, so fingers crossed! What we wanted to emphasise is that any events/workshops should be made available to all PGRs at all institutions, not just Midlands 3 Cities students.

There was also a talk by artist Bill Drummond, who talked about his ten commandments of art. He asked us to think of our own ten commandments then agreed with Sharon, the Midlands 3 Cities Director, that he will meet up with us all in 3 years’ time to paint our commandments underneath Spaghetti Junction. They shook hands on it, so expect a blog post about this in 2017!

What was apparent from the two days was the sense of collegiality amongst the group; everyone got along really well and everyone is so enthusiastic about their research. I personally feel I could work with anyone in my cohort. That can also be said about PGRs in the faculty of Arts, Design and Media. So far it’s been an enjoyable first few weeks as a PhD student and I’m looking forward to the next three years.

Applications for the 2016 cohort of Midlands 3 Cities is now open, visit the website for more information. You can also find out more about being a postgraduate student at Birmingham City University at our Postgraduate Open Day on Wednesday 25 November 2015, 2-7pm. Register now.

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