ODGE co-sponsors MIT-Imperial Global Fellows Conference

June 24, 2011

Marilyn Wilson, Sr. Career Development Specialist, GECD: Career Services. Global Education & Career Development successfully launched its first Global Fellows program this summer co-sponsored by DUE and ODGE on the MIT side. What is the Global Fellows Program? A five-day intensive workshop for 40 PhD students: half from MIT and half from Imperial College London, led by staff and faculty from Imperial College and MIT. The program is focused on professional transferable skills training: collaboration, team work, project planning and development, communication and presentation skills, networking. It is envisioned that a yearly workshop alternately housed at MIT and at Imperial College will take place.

The Global Fellows Program began with a conversation between Dean Dan Hastings and colleagues from Imperial College London over a year ago. Since the two institutions have so much in common, can we provide more opportunities for our students to connect with one another?

Imperial College had developed a Transferable Skills Workshop for graduate students which they give in collaboration with some Asian universities – why not adapt it and bring it to MIT? Melanie Parker from GECD thought that we could. She appointed a committee to create the event, headed up by Marilyn Wilson and including, Deborah Liverman, Kim Benard and Nancy Richmond. With the generous support of both DUE and ODGE, and after many Skype calls between London and Cambridge, MA, the MIT-Imperial College Global Fellows Program was born.

On June 20, 33 PhD students from Imperial College and MIT convened for a reception at the British Consulate to begin the weeklong adventure in group learning. The following four days at Sydney Pacific featured a mix of presentations, small group exercises, and evening events. Guest lecturer Prof. Sanjay Sarma from MIT gave an outstanding presentation/discussion on global collaboration skills. Evening events included a networking dinner with several invited faculty and staff from MIT. Another evening event involved British country dancing for all participants!

The primary learning vehicle for the workshop was group experiential activities.

  • In an early activity, students educated one another about their respective institutions as a first important step in understanding one another.
  • Midway through the week students created posters to describe their individual research interests, then participated in a poster fair.
  • After extensive mingling and probing conversation, students formed into groups of 3-5 to develop innovative research proposals drawing on each member’s expertise and interests.
  • The crux of the week was a competition of group proposals, with the final heat judged by Dean Christine Ortiz. The results were remarkable, both for the quality of the proposals and for the creative way participants drew on one another’s talents in the proposals.

Early feedback from students on the program was enthusiastically positive – many have gone on to connect in a Facebook Group. Planning is already underway for next year’s Global Fellows Program.

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