Reply To: 9. Sep 22nd – Mentorship in environmental history: case studies

Start Forums Current Debates and Themes in Global Environmental History 2015 9. Sep 22nd – Mentorship in environmental history: case studies Reply To: 9. Sep 22nd – Mentorship in environmental history: case studies

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Ylva Lundkvist Fridh # Posted on September 27, 2015 at 12:10

Reflection about mentorship by Ylva Lundkvist Fridh

A general impression was that I was of greater use for the undergraduate students the first 30 minutes of the “mentor mingle session”. In the beginning they had a lot of questions, were a bit confused and had just started to think about how to approach their topic. At that stage I felt that I did have some good advice to give – both in terms of reference literature they could check up and in terms of how to delimit the scope and scale of the study. So, I felt I did a contribution to the first two groups I spoke to. But after that, the other groups I sat down with had already started to discuss who in the group should do what or started to search for the literature they had decided to read into. By then, it felt more like I disturbed when I came by to talk to them.
I did not want to stay for long with each group. This was because I felt that as a “mentor” I unintendedly ended up higher in the hierarchy in the groups. It was a bit like that my word weighted heavier than that of the undergraduates and they did not challenge my suggestions. So, in order to not decide for them how to go ahead with their assignment I decided to walk away to the next group after a short talk.
If I shall try to think of how the mentorship could be improved, I think I have a couple of proposals. First of all, I think it might work better if it is decided on forehand which mentor should talk to which group (maybe 1-2 groups per mentor) rather than just mingling freely between the groups. Since all of us master students have different backgrounds and different skills, each one of us was more capable to help the group that had chosen a topic close to our specific field of interest. Now I do not know if we really were able to match our skills with the right student group. Also, as it turned out, we all missed one group. I personally found it a bit embarrassing to walk around in the corridor and library and ask groups of students if they belonged to our class. Since I did not recognise their faces I sometimes mistook groups and bothered the wrong people. So except from matching mentor with group, it might be a good idea to have clearly specified area just for this activity.