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Report on Antwerp Foundational Meeting

The Third Foundational Course hosted online by the University of Antwerp (ANT) launched the third and final year of the TACK program as well as the training axis “Projective Capacities of Tacit Knowledge.” Themed “Writing from the Middle” this meeting organized by Professor Lara Schrijver aimed to address the gaps and uncertainties in the developing research projects of the ten ESRs, towards the completion of (a first draft of) their thesis. Due to the pandemic, the colloquium was prepared through zoom meetings in which professors and ESRs had the opportunity to jointly formulate its objectives and structure. The emphasis on the progress of the research projects was reflected in the deliverables. These were an annotated table of contents of the thesis on the one hand, and a draft chapter on the other. The Reader that accompanies this meeting resulted from the compilation of these documents.

The first day began with a conversation on how the secondments to cultural institutions are taking shape. To allow for an in-depth discussion this conversation was held in three break-out rooms of six to seven people, allowing for a more intimate exchange of experiences and thoughts, between doctoral candidates, professors and representatives of the non-academic partners. Next, the meeting proceeded with presentations by the TACK ESRs, who were organized in pairs (each ESR having 40 minutes), with both supervisory teams commenting on both papers, thus yielding a rich body of observations. At the same time, each ESR was invited to offer feedback to the colleague with whom they shared the session. The second day was entirely devoted to the presentations of the ESRs, through which the diversity of approaches was highlighted as well as the progress made in all the individual projects. The second day ended with an Executive Committee meeting.

The third day started with a workshop dedicated to “Publishing from/with the PhD” which again was organized in three break-out rooms focusing on the themes of Dissemination, Exchange and Publication respectively. The workshop was structured in two sessions so that the ESRs could attend more than one theme. This allowed for the exchange of valuable knowledge around the different ways of engaging various communities and audiences, both academic and non-academic, within the PhD trajectory. The day ended with a workshop on research ethics organized by the Antwerp Ethics Committee and Data Management officers, in which the opportunity was also given to ask specific questions related to the individual research projects.

A first assessment of these three days may focus on the progress made by the individual PhD researchers involved in the TACK network as they enter their final stage, but also on the preparation that allowed to calibrate the experience of previous meetings: The combination of formal presentations with the informality of break out rooms, the dedication of ample time to each researcher and the use of the network’s many voices and critical lenses were such aspects of the Antwerp meeting, as was the devotion of substantial time to the key issue of publications. In this sense, the goal of the Antwerp Foundational Course, which was to support ESRs in moving from the early stages of research to those that would make them ‘experts’ in their field, was achieved.

As already mentioned, due to pandemic regulations, the meeting was held online, with a modified schedule. Efforts are, however, underway already to find two more days during the summer when the network can meet in Antwerp and engage in invaluable face-to-face discussions.

Report written by Ionas Sklavounos, University of Antwerp