Relationships and Connections at LIS – Not Just Between Disciplines
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During my time at LIS especially, I have learnt a lot about how relationships and connections are fundamental. Most obvious is through our studies; our interdisciplinary degree teaches how the world’s complex problems require an interdisciplinary approach. Therefore we can, and should, be integrating the insights of different disciplines, and understanding the relationships between them - how they are or can be connected. We have learnt how to do this to recognise the workings of a problem, to tackle them, or why a current lack of integration might have caused them.
Yet, there is also a focus on relationships and connections with people. LIS is not just about the learning we gain from seminar discussions or by doing the prep-work before classes, but about the networks we are building. There is great emphasis placed on outreach; from guiding us through the internship process or advising we find an external supervisor in research projects, to sharing interesting events to attend or holding networking breakfasts, and inviting guests to campus for talks or to view our end-of-year projects. For example, in the third year, a major component of our final project – our Capstone project – involves external intervention. If you are wondering what this means…it means we need to muster the courage to email strangers and tell them about ourselves and our work. Well, that and it is really about making sure our research is impacting the world - it means we need to reach out to the people we think our future research findings and resulting output may be of use and value and ask if they would be willing to review this output at the end of the project.
Once again, relationships and connections are an integral part of our degree (And emailing strangers isn’t all that bad, in-fact people are often very helpful and intrigued by being asked questions or for advice!).
However, these relationships and connections with people aren’t always external. The relationships internally, between the people who make up LIS are just as important. Every term there are events both formal and informal, and both students and faculty/staff are invited. There are Town Halls, and meetings for people to discuss what works and what needs working on (which is important for a new, or any, university to be successful and ensure people are satisfied!); members of staff and faculty attend too to listen or even share updates. Likewise, they involve us in the processes that impact our education; staff and faculty clearly value and seek our input. As a result of this communication, you feel like you are being heard.
The relationships and connections between students are also key. These are built both on campus, and off. For assessments and classes, we are often asked to do group work or projects, something that has been consistent across all three years of my time at LIS. And whilst it was hard to begin with, maybe even frustrating at times, it has also been insightful, helping not only with the work but to learn from each other. Teamwork is fundamental to success at work, so learning to do it now has been very valuable. Off campus, there are several societies, social events, and a sharing community of students.
LIS offers a new degree, at a new university, and whilst it is a close network, it is also a small one. When talking to people outside of LIS, about our thoughts about prospective careers or even having multiple careers, or what it’s like studying a not-so ‘traditional’ degree of multiple subjects, it can feel a bit isolating. There aren’t many people studying degrees like ours, or asking the questions we do, and it can get overwhelming when people don’t understand where we are coming from. But if there’s one thing we have been taught on this degree, it’s that the world doesn’t operate in siloes, even if a lot of people see it that way. It takes time, but having the confidence to know that these perspectives are changing, and that interdisciplinarity is becoming wider-known, makes all the difference.
So finally, though no less important, is the relationship you build with yourself. Trusting yourself to work things out when the work gets stressful, and learning how to balance mental, physical, and social health on top of this for yourself, is just as much a part of the university experience as going to “lectures” and joining societies. It is a process of learning about yourself too:
You’ll learn how you learn best.
You’ll learn to realise that you have a lot more to bring to the table than you realise and build confidence in yourself in the process.
You’ll learn what careers appeal to you, and which definitely don’t.
You’ll learn that leaving an assignment until the day of the deadline is not fun.
You’ll learn to prioritise yourself when necessary, and that you can’t compare yourself to others.
It may take time, but you will get to know yourself more, bit by bit. And yes, fortunately, or unfortunately, there is no timeframe to this - I’m in my third year and still working on it!
Relationships and connections at LIS are not just about interdisciplinarity; they are fundamental to university, building skills, our future careers, and our own personal lives.
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