YorkU PhDs join the Lake Shift—Graduate student retreat at Queen’s University Biological Station

group photo of the Lake Shift PhD retreat participantsFifteen York PhD students, part of a group of more than 40 students from seven Ontario universities, meet this week at the Queen's University Biological Station (QUBS) for the inaugural Lake Shift writing retreat.

The four-day retreat, hosted by Queen’s School of Graduate Studies, will provide graduate students with structured time to work on their theses in a peaceful and relaxing environment on the shores of Lake Opinicon—one of the lakes of the Rideau System. Students will also be able to take part in workshops on tips for effective dissertation writing and enjoy opportunities to network with other graduate students. The 15 York students were chosen from among 56 applications.

What a great opportunity for our graduate students, at the dissertation writing stage, to work with other students across the province.

The objective of the retreat is to enable graduate students to make substantial progress in writing their thesis and to establish scheduling and time management skills necessary to maintain that momentum. Students from the seven participating universities (Brock, Western, Windsor, York, Laurentian, University of Toronto, and Queen’s University) will also benefit from an interdisciplinary atmosphere – programs represented range from History, to Criminology, to Neuroscience, to Natural Resource Engineering, and more.

photo of Dean Barbara Crow

Dean Barbara Crow

Barbara Crow, Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies at York, who put the idea forward to the student community using funds from FGS' Academic Excellence Fund to pay their way, called the experience "a great opportunity for our graduate students, at the dissertation writing stage, to work with other students across the province. Queen’s has put together a strong writing support program in an ideal setting. I hope that our students have some good writing time and a chance to focus on writing."

Brenda Brouwer, Dean of the School of Graduate Studies at Queen’s, says, “Providing graduate students with the opportunity to get away from their daily routines to focus on writing is a winning combination, and when you add into the mix, beautiful surroundings and three prepared meals a day—it provides for a welcome balance of productivity, health and wellness."

She adds, "What’s distinct about the Lake Shift is that it brings graduate students from many Ontario universities together to exchange ideas, share their tips and strategies for making headway in their theses and to get to know one another. We’re thrilled that we can build on our Dissertation on the Lake program and offer this opportunity to graduate students across the province—it will be a fantastic four days at Lake Opinicon."

The retreat offers a balanced program, including ample time to write, structured time for goal setting, shared meal and recreation times, as well as evening workshops, discussion groups, and seminars.

  • Maggie Berg, author of The Slow Professor, will lead a workshop on managing time while faced with academic demands.
  • Hélène Lawler, academic writer, editor, and dissertation coach, will lead an interactive discussion around the many challenges of dissertation writing and how to get past them to reach the finish line.
  • Participants will also be able to attend a lecture in the QUBS seminar series by Evaristo Hernández-Fernández, an ornithologist and illustrator from Mexico who will speak on “The Art of Nature”.
  • During recreation time, participants will be able to enjoy the QUBS’ many amenities, including swimming, boating, hiking and campfire conversations. The retreat will offer the perfect balance of work, recreation, and conviviality in a unique natural setting.

QUBS is an ideal facility to host this event; besides beautiful lakeshores and hiking trails, the field station features a library and multiple exhibitions to engage the public and foster public awareness of environmental and conservation issues. QUBS is an internationally renowned facility, regularly hosting field researchers from Canadian and international institutions.