Commentary

This case study details the strategies used over time to build a research culture in a small cross-disciplinary research centre. The initiatives aim to foster a sense of common interest across a diverse research area, and also align with the institute’s philosophical views about sustainability. The activities such as the retreat and support groups work to bring HDR students and staff into a common space where research conversations become part of living together.

The role of the Director is critical in ensuring the activities are well-designed and effective in supporting students. Through her leadership she brings other people into the research space and they also contribute to the activities or support strategies.

The Director engages with institutional changes, such as the candidature plans, and leverages these activities and structures to create interest and debate about the role of supervisors, in particular the intellectual engagement they need to have with their research students. Ongoing and meaningful supervisor engagement with the collective activities remains an ongoing challenge.

Whilst acknowledging that many of her colleagues contribute to the success of the program within their own limitations, she is also aware that, after 10 years in the role, she needs to transition out and take on other responsibilities in the institute. She is reflective about the challenges of her role and missed opportunities to document the initiatives she has introduced. She hopes to work on this aspect in the near future.

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