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September 14-16, 2007

PhD Zero Weekend. The PhD Student and the PhD Studies



Contact person(s):
Péter Bokody


Emerging as an initiative of the participants of the seminar series “The Education of Concerned Scholars” that was offered by Yehuda Elkana in 2006-07, a weekend for the PhD students of CEU will be organized at the beginning of the academic year 2007-08. Our experience was that though there is a significant demand from the part of the students of the University for interdepartmental cooperation and both formal and informal exchange, due to the small number of students in the different Doctoral programs there is a lack of large-scale PhD activity. The situation can be well described with the statement: CEU has PhD students, but no PhD body. As a result of this doctoral students miss even to profit of the highly inter-cultural profile of the University, which would serve as the basis of any further network-building activity and could help to overcome the isolation frequently experienced in Budapest. The aim of the weekend is to provide an occasion where PhD students of CEU can come together and reflect on their current situation on a general and CEU-specific level.

The structure of the weekend is the following: those students who would like to participate will be assigned to working groups, and they will work together on a specific theme. This specific theme is connected the general topic of the weekend: The PhD Student and the PhD Studies. The groups can develop different points they find problematic, offer their solutions, and detect major concerns related to PhD education. The group discussions will be held on Friday in the afternoon and Saturday. On Sunday morning the groups will present their results to each other, hopefully generating fruitful discussions.

The broadly formulated different sub-themes of the weekend are the following:

1. What is the dominant component of writing a PhD and what does it imply?
1.1. Is it an entrepreneurial act, is it a market-oriented project?
1.2. Is it application/implementation, is it a technocratic project?
1.3. Is it safeguarding knowledge, is it a humanist project?
1.4. Is it being concerned as a scholar, is it a moral act?

2. What is the ideal structure of the PhD studies?
2.1. Should it be an individual act of creative research?
2.2. Should individuals be an integral part of a larger research group?
2.3. What is the basic structure of PhD studies in the US, in the EU, in Hungary – or your country of origin? What unavoidable consequences follow from them and how to coop with them?
2.4. How are the roles of foresight, planning and time management in the years of PhD studies and how can one plan the years after? What survival methods are there to cross the desert separating funded years of the PhD and later academic employment?

3. How is it to be a PhD student at CEU?
3.1. Should CEU be an embedded, a superior or an oppositional type of institution?
3.2. What should be the role of the departments and the schools, and how should they relate to the university as a whole?
3.3. Is CEU a research intensive university?
3.4. How to fund the PhD studies and why?
3.5. How to be global while maintaining high standards of supervision? How to make sure that concrete and profound expertise can be developed at the same time as learning on a general, theoretical and methodological level?

This would help us in: 1) fostering inter-departmental relations and cooperation within the university; 2) experiencing how to work in a group, which is not strictly made out of specialist of the same field; 3) situating our studies in a broader context; 4) reflecting on our status and the outcomes of our studies; 5) clarifying our expectations (and that of the University). Besides these, the meetings and the discussions can give us the possibility to strengthen the cohesion of the PHD body of the University, which would be beneficial from an academic, social and personal point of view.

The weekend starts at the end of the pre-session (14th September 2007, Friday) with the opening remarks of Yehuda Elkana, who will deliver a general introduction to the question emphasizing the relevance of PhD studies. Afterwards there will be the first meeting of the groups discussing the general outline of the specific problem, on which they would like to work during the weekend. Saturday morning Sophie Howlett will have an introductory lecture on the actual state of PhD studies in Europe and the world. During the day the groups discuss and develop their presentation. Sunday morning, in a short conference open to public, each group presents its ideas, questions and (eventual) solutions. The presentations are to be followed by debate. Lajos Bokros will be asked to summarize the findings of the morning session and eventually reflect on their possible implementation. Friday evening a reception will be offered in the new CEU Student Bar, and Saturday evening we will have diner together in the city.


If you would like to participate, please send a mail till 1st September to the following address: By this you declare that you intend to follow all the programs of the weekend (lectures, working groups and social events). Please highlight in your email which of the broadly formulated problems interests you the most.


September 14, 2007
3.30-5.00 pm: Yehuda Elkana
5.30-19.00 pm: 1st session
19.00 pm: welcome reception at the new CEU Bar

September 15, 2007
9.00-10.30 am: Sophie Howlett
11.00-1.00 pm: 2nd session
2.00-4.00 pm: 3rd session
4.30-6.30 pm: 4th session
7.00 pm: Diner

September 16, 2007
9.00-10.30 am: presentation and debate
11.00-12.30 am: presentation and debate
12.30-1.00 pm: Lajos Bokros

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