School of History - CHASE Studentship

Tell us a bit about yourself. What are you researching? What School are you based in? What did you study prior to your PhD?

 My name is Jon Winder and I’m a third year PhD researcher in the School of History. I am researching the history of the children’s playground, from the early nineteenth century through to the late twentieth century. Before coming to Kent, I spent ten years working on historic landscape restoration projects. I previously studied geography at the University of Birmingham and town planning at Cardiff University.

How do you spend your spare time when you are not studying? 

When I’m not working on my PhD, I can usually be found playing with my kids, often at the beach or on our bikes. 

What are you particularly enjoying about your experience at Kent so far?

 Doing a PhD, with funding from CHASE, has been a remarkable privilege. It’s unlike any other work that I have done, as I am largely my own boss, which I’ve really enjoyed. The funding also means fees and research expenses are covered and I do not have to teach, maximizing the amount of time I can spend on my research project and developing my skills and experience. The commute to work, up the hill and through the woods from Canterbury, is pretty amazing too, compared to my previous commute to London on the train. 

What support/opportunities do you receive as a research student from the University and doctoral training partnership? 

The most useful support from CHASE and Kent is the funding towards research and training costs. For example, I secured funding from CHASE to undertake an intensive training course with the Institute for Historical Research that introduced me in detail to the archives I planned to use for my project. In addition, I have felt able to visit the archives as often as necessary, knowing that CHASE will cover the travel costs. Being funded by a UKRI-funded doctoral training partnership has also opened up lots of other opportunities. Most notably, I secured funding for a 12-week placement at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, as part of the URKI-Mitacs Globalink scheme (although sadly could not go due to Covid). Many of the training sessions, organised by the Graduate and Researcher College, have been really useful in helping me to develop my skills as a professional researcher. A successful application to the Postgraduate Community Experience Award meant that I could run the Critical Excursions in Kent project, introducing other PhD students to contemporary scholarship through guided walks in the countryside. 

How does postgraduate study differ from undergraduate study? 

The main difference is that a PhD is your own project, something that you are responsible for creating, organising and implementing, with support from your supervisor. I have imagined my PhD as an apprenticeship where I have been trying to learn what it means to be a professional researcher. Unlike undergraduate study, seeking out the opportunities to develop those skills and experiences has been up to me.

 What are you planning to do next?

 After my PhD, I’m hoping to apply for a post-doc to undertake further research. 

Any advice for those thinking about applying for a PhD studentship at Kent? 

Make sure your project fits with the aspirations of the funder. If they want interdisciplinary projects, then make sure yours is!.   

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