Celebrating 100!

Taking this time to celebrate CAL100 – the 100th episode for the Changing Academic Life podcast series (actually 109th episode if we count the nine related work episodes) and thanks to all the people who have been part of making it happen.


Welcome to Changing Academic Life. I'm Geraldine Fitzpatrick, and this is a podcast series where academics and others share their stories, provide ideas, and provoke discussions about what we can do individually and collectively to change academic life for the better. Welcome to the changing academic life. 100th episode. CAL 100, who would have thought. I tell the students in my PhD course called. From surviving to thriving. About the importance of taking time to stop, say at the end of the year or end of whatever period, and just look back at what you've achieved and take some time. To savor the accomplishments and to celebrate them. And I was going to let CAL 100 just go by with the next conversation, but I challenged myself to walk the talk. So. I want to use this short episode just to celebrate 100 episodes of the podcast. And in fact it's more than 100 because during the pandemic, I also experimented with a different category of podcasts that I called related work. So there are nine related work podcasts, and that's where I spent some time, just more reflecting myself on a particular topic, whether it was about strengths or finding the sweet spot in a management and supervision and so on. And I've stopped doing those as separate categories. And I'm just now doing any of the solo episodes or conversation episodes all under the same CAL episode number. So as the official CAL episode, this is CAL 100 and there are nine related works. That's actually 109 episodes of the podcast. And it's interesting for me to stop and reflect here on, on the story of starting the podcast. And I had been struck in doing a lot of doctoral colloquium or early career workshops with people at conferences and just talking to colleagues. Just the increasing pressure that people, it felt like people were under in, in academia, in research. And my concern about what sort of culture we were creating that was doing this to people. And this was the early days of podcasts, relatively speaking, in terms of becoming more popular. And I happened to come across a podcast by Dr. Paddy Barrett. Who's an Irish doctor working in the us somewhere. I think he was an anaesthetist And he had a podcast that he now calls the Dr. Paddy Barrett podcast. And I can't remember what it was called when he first started. That was specifically focused on clinician burnout. And it was really good because it was about people sharing their stories about, you know, the pressures that they were under and how they were dealing with that. And I remember listening to this podcast and in the middle of it. Just having this gut feel this gut certainty of. This is something I could do similarly for researchers for academics. And I don't know how to describe it because it wasn't an intellectual process of, I wonder if I could do this. It was a gut thing of almost like I had to do it. I know that it connects to lots of things that I like doing. I've always been a, I guess, a bit of a people person. I have always loved hearing people's stories. And. Just. I guess listening to people, People will joke that if I can take a taxi journey and I can know everything about the taxi drivers life by the end of the journey. So it was connecting to that sort of strength and interest. And it also connects to my research perspective as a qualitative researcher, which is also very much interested in, in the real stories of people on the ground and not the neat model version or the neat CV version in the case of, of academics and researchers. Because I could see the value that people got say in our workshops or doctoral colloquia When they got to share each other's stories and often the values of those events, wasn't so much when people talked about their research topic per se, but when they shared the fact that they're all dealing with the same sort of stresses or pressures or concerns, And so I thought there was a way of maybe using a podcast format. To bring those conversations and stories. People's stories. To a broader audience so that we could realize that we're not the only ones feeling something or feeling concern. And it main thing too, was not just that we would feel like we weren't the only ones, but recognizing that we're all resourceful people in different ways. And we can learn so much from each other as well about the different tips and tricks that people have for how they navigate the challenges. So I had this deep conviction that this is something I just had to do, which is funny because even though I've got a computer science degree, I'm actually not very technical. As everyone will tell you, And the challenge of actually trying to work out. What were the tools I needed and the platforms and just navigating all of the technical side was a big deal for me. It wasn't fitting to my natural strengths at all. But it. It was stuff I needed to work out how to do. In order to, to deliver on this gut passion that I had to bring stories to, Around academia. So the first episode went out on the 3rd of July, 2016. And. I remember going to our big, main conference, in the computer human interaction area in 2016 in may, and taking that as an opportunity to connect to a couple of people to record a couple of the first interviews. And my very first interview was with the wonderful Carl Gutwin who is a good colleague and peer. We probably went through our PhDs around a similar time together. And I've wanted to do my first interview with someone who I felt safe with and who I just, you know, I just loved talking with Carl as well. And I'd really encourage you to go back and listen to that very first episode because he's amazing. He's really amazing. And so since that time I've been continuing to. More opportunistically, I guess. Connect to people when I could. And that could be at conferences to, to. Catch them in and get them just to tell their story. or if people happen to be visiting our institution, I would. nab them as they came through and ask them would you like to sit down and have a chat with me or if I was visiting other institutions, I might identify some people there and just say, you know, would you sit down and have a chat with me? I started off doing the stories, trying to keep them, trying to do the interviews more and keeping to about 20 minutes, half an hour. But I soon found that. I don't know, people started to open up more as the time went on and. I know maybe I could shape the interviews in a much more structured way, but I guess I'm more interested, maybe reflecting my qualitative research background in, in seeing the stories that emerged with prompting. I always know why I want to talk to someone what's interesting about their story. But I'm always surprised by what comes out and even with people who I think I know, well, just talking to people in a different way, you learn different things. And so while it has been more opportunistic, I hope I've been able to bring a range of different people at different career stages in different institutions. Different countries, different cultural backgrounds working in industry, working in industry research, working in academia and so on. There are a couple of the interviews have also been with people who might call more experts in their field. And I'm thinking here, for example of the discussion with Michael Bungay Stanier about taming the advice monster, and just a different way of how we can help support people and help them develop their own expertise. And, also discussions with Oscar Trimboli about better listening skills. And I think these speak to a lot of the skills that we all need within our work. So it's been my honor and privilege. To have been. Part of bringing so many different people's stories. To a broader audience. And as I said, I also experimented with some more solo formats and. This is something that I struggle with in the podcast is I don't want them to be about me. I'd want them very much to be about the people that I'm talking with. But I'm also recognizing that. You know, through experience and through training. I also perhaps have things to share or my own experiences to share. As part of a learning journey and certainly coming from a position of not having got it all right. And always being a learner. I think that the experiences. In the conversations with people and hearing similar sorts of things again and again, and again, it was also part of my motivation for going and doing an additional master's degree in applied positive psychology and coaching psychology, because I very much felt like that provided. An evidence base and a toolkit to help address many of the challenges that people are facing. And. And again, the privilege of being able to play them out and share those with people through, for example, the leadership development course Austen Rainer and I co-facilitate for informatics Europe. And there is an episode with Austin, just talking about his own story. And also another episode where we talk about the leadership course. And also running various other workshops and courses and facilitation and mentoring and coaching for people and speaking with people. And doing, doing talks in that, on these sort of topics. Because I am really concerned about how we can change academic life for the better. And recognizing that change needs to happen both from the top down, bottom up and middle out. That we can all have a part to play in it. And whether it's just in the way we recognize and greet and acknowledge the people that we work with day to day, or whether we're in more positions of power, where we can influence policies and structures and processes. But I really do believe we can all do something to be part of changing it. I'm encouraged as we've reflected in some of the past episodes also about. Many of the initiatives happening at national geographical international levels around rethinking forms of research assessments that often contributing to the pressures that, that people are under. the emphasis on promoting wellbeing for the importance of good science, because we can't bring our best selves to our work. If we're burnt out, worn out stressed out or playing the academic game of getting yet more papers yet more. Funding grants to list on our CVs. So. I'm also encouraged that there's change happening at multiple levels. And I'm very grateful to you, the listener I, as I said, sometimes, Over the course of this doing the podcast has been a lot of work. I often have a little chuckle to myself when you listen to other people's podcasts and they thank all the producers and the, you know, all the different people who have different roles to play in getting the podcast out. And, I just have a little chuckle because. It's me. And, so as I said, it's been a learning curve to try to work out how to process audio and how to put together podcasts and moving to a different platform in the past year for processing these. But all that work is so worthwhile because of the feedback that I hear from you about how they connect. How they encourage you, that there are different ways of doing academia, how it encourages you in hearing different people's stories. That, that you are not the only person engaging in a particular issue or challenge how it encourages you to take a stance or to be part of making change. So I'm really grateful to you for listening. I'm particularly grateful to those of you who've taken the time just to. To write and share the ways in which a particular episode has connected. Or whatever. Because that really helps. It also helps me get a sense of. What I should try to focus on more. So I won't go on too long here. What I would ask. Is, as a call, as I said, I'm not very comfortable with the self promotion or with social media promotion for this. And I'm trying to grapple with this for myself, because at the same time, I do want to see these conversations, get out to respect the time and vulnerability and honesty of the people who share their stories with me. I feel like I have a responsibility to, to get their stories out. I also know, given that the, from the feedback I've heard that it does connect, that it can make a difference. How do I increase the reach of this? So I want to ask you if you would be part of helping to promote this by sharing it with your colleagues, with people in your faculty, with your students, by making some of these parts of your conversations. It could be where you might listen to an episode together and discuss it, or, send me, messages, email, whatever, with ideas that you have for what else you'd like to hear. And I'd also like to make a call to ask you, what's your gut saying, like I'm saying that I started this purely on a gut-feel. What's the, what's the yearning in the back of your mind beyond your job description. About what you think you could do. What's what's the idea germinating in your head or in your gut? About what could be done, that's different. And whether that is. Just starting up some sort of peer support group in your own institution or. Or being part of some sort of facilitating some sort of working group or whatever, like what, what is the idea. The contribution that you can make. What's the thing that you're saying. Oh if only someone did. Or someone should do. What about you? If not you doing it. Who who would do it if you've got the idea? Go for it. And if not now, then when. So I just want to courage you and empower you to say. Go with that feeling of how you can contribute and how you can be part of making a difference. And. Don't over think it. Just get started. Yeah, cause I guess that's the story of the podcast just getting started And I have had lots of help along the way. I'm very grateful to people in my group. Who've just contributed different tips and tricks. Around some of the tools, some of the platforms. The support of the human computer interaction group at TU Vienna for paying for some of the licenses for some of the platforms. Cause it's not cheap either. I'm particularly grateful to my partner, Mark. Who's also been very supportive in helping me with it with some of the more technical side of things. And thanks to Dara Emerson, who's been helping to develop a new website. We have a temporary new website up at the moment. And when the final new website is up, there will be more ways to connect to playlists that collate episodes that are covering similar themes, because there've been so many interesting, different themes that have emerged across all of the podcasts. Whether it's about navigating different career stages, navigating tenure track, dealing with burnout, managing boundaries different ways of playing out leadership and so on and so on. So the new website, when it is up, will provide better ways of searching and navigating the podcasts. In the meantime though some of the transcripts from the older episodes aren't available at the moment. That's all on the to-do list. If you do need one in particular, just email me and I can post it to you. And while we're on the topic of the transcripts, I'd also like to thank Sabrina Burtscher, Silke Buchberger, Katharina Werner, and Raphael. Vrecar from our group for helping with the backlog of transcripts from the older episodes. Even though we have some automatic transcription tools, they still need an awful lot of work to correct their errors. So keep an eye open for the new new website, not just the new, temporary new website. And finally just to close, I, I want to repeat my gratitude to all of the people who've sat down and had a chat with me. Who've shared so powerfully and generously and honestly their own stories. And I'm grateful to you as well because you make it worthwhile in being part of the community for how we can all together, change academic life for the better. So, thank you. And I'm just really, really amazed and happy to be here, celebrating the 100th CAL episode. Yay. You can find the summary notes, a transcript and related links for this podcast on www. changingacademiclife. com. You can also subscribe to Changing Academic Life on iTunes, Spotify and Google Podcasts. And you can follow ChangeAcadLife on Twitter. And I'm really hoping that we can widen the conversation about how we can do academia differently. And you can contribute to this by rating the podcast and also giving feedback. And if something connected with you, please consider sharing this podcast with your colleagues. Together, we can make change happen.

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