Tailored workshops motivates and guides MPhil students

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This year the Sustainability Institute is offering workshops specifically tailored to MPhil students. A masters is often a lonely and stressful process and the workshops are designed to support students on their journey by offering both academic and emotional support throughout the year. It’s also a place where students can reconnect with each other and the Institute.

The first workshop held on 26 February, facilitated by two of our alumni, Paul and Tai was entitled The ABCs of Mastering The Crisis (thesis) and focused specifically on the emotional side of completing a masters in one year. Students had an opportunity to openly speak about their worries while facilitators helped with tips and tricks to overcome things like procrastination, demotivation, and student-supervisor conflict.

“I was both surprised and reassured that so many of my fellow students were experiencing the same anxieties I was. I valued the advice Paul and Tai gave about respecting your own work process and taking certain breaks when you need them,” Adél Strydom, research on household energy consumption behaviour in Cape Town.

The second workshop entitled, Get Lit: Sourcing, Organising and Writing your Literature Review, was held on 5 March and provided academic guidance on compiling a thorough literature review. It covered everything from finding literature and organising it to compiling an argument and critically evaluating the work of others.

“The workshops are bringing me sanity and inspiration during a time when I have endless questions and worries. The more I attend, the more ready and excited I am to dive into my research,” Andrew Murray, researching the digitalisation of energy systems and the role that Blockchain plays in creating more sustainable, equitable energy systems.

“There’s so much to learn from experienced past MPhils. Sometimes this translates into pressure more than it is comforting, but all in all the opportunity to share and hear the group’s struggles is an important reminder that we are all going through the same stuff,” Ann Gacheri, research on household food metabolism in Cape Town

This is how our students are progressing on their masters journeys so far:

“Although I sometimes feel daunted by the prospect of writing a thesis, I am excited to work on my research because I know it has the potential to offer valuable information to the world and to inform decision making of people in the energy industry,” Andrew Murray.

“The journey is trying and challenging. In spite of this, there’s always something new to learn each day. From the articles, from fellow colleagues, from friends and family supporting us through this journey. I hope to come out through to the other side stronger, emotionally and intellectually and most importantly successful,” Ann Gacheri.

“I am motivated to really start grappling with my literature in the coming weeks. This coming month is designated for buckling down and immersing myself completely in the literature. I’m expecting many late nights and large pots of coffee, but I’m excited to start writing the first draft of chapters one and two of my thesis,” Adél Strydom.

The MPhil group feeling inspired after their first workshop together at the Drie Gewels Eco-lodge