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IRTG Workshop Report: "Communication, group dynamics and (self-)motivation for doctoral students”

by Bárbara Vargas-Machuca

The first IRTG Workshop about "Communication, group dynamics and (self-)motivation for doctoral students” last two days, and despite the coronavirus crisis, this workshop let me meet and interact virtually with new PhD students, who like me, just started their PhD studies. The whole workshop was given by Dr. Benjamin Hartwig (Neuroblitz) and technically supported by Michael Geusen and the IRTG. Through different exercises, Benjamin led us to face some dilemmas that as PhD students we could experience very soon.

During the first day the dynamic and exercises were thought to introduce ourselves and meet new people. At the same time facing the multidisciplinary group, not just for the different countries, languages or cultures, but also because of the diversity on the topics that everyone is working.  At the end of the workshop Ben had a challenge for us, randomly the team had formed five groups to answer the same question: “How do you stay motivated and motivate others during the PhD?”. The way of answer this question was open, every single idea was valid.

The second day was the same dynamic, but this time, with a lot of psychological games and mental exercises.  At the end of the workshop, we had to present our results and answer the question given on the first day. It was very interesting to see, how each group came up with different ideas about the topic “motivation” and facing all kind of problems around it. Scientific views to free interpretations about this topic were presented in different creative ways and all groups highlighted   how much this topic could influence our process as a PhD student in the future.

Overall, it was an interesting two-day workshop full of unexpecting exercises and activities with very nice people and best attitude from Ben and the whole team. It was an excellent opportunity to share ideas, concerns, and to know different ways of answering the same question.


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Group picture of all workshop participants
Photo: M. Geusen


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Dr. Hannah Hartung
IRTG Coordinator

University of Cologne
Institute of Geology and Mineralogy

Zülpicher Str. 49a
50674 Cologne
Phone:   +49 (0)221 470-6101
E-mail:   irtg@sfb1211.de

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