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PhD Student Testimonials


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Dr Anne Thurston (2014)


In 2009 an opportunity arose for me to apply for one of two 21st Century Visioning Ecumenism: Diversity, Dialogue and Reconciliation research scholarships in ISE. This came at a time in my own life when I was ready for a new challenge. As my research developed it changed somewhat from the originating impulses - as often happens - but it remained motivated and inspired by the ideas of reconciliation and dialogue which are at the heart of what ISE is about. I brought my early research interests in literature together with my theological studies to a dissertation which sought to create a hospitable space for conversations about and between 'the sacred' and 'the secular'. I did this work under the calm and assured supervision of Professor Linda Hogan, now vice-provost of Trinity.

I have watched the school develop in the time I have known it and have seen how the whole ecumenical idea has now broadened to include interreligious theologies and intercultural studies. It will be interesting to see what form ISE takes in the future as it continues to be a critical partner in vital conversations about religious traditions in Ireland, and in wider contexts. As alumni, we too will be contributors to these kinds of conversations.

ISE has a particular quality which may not be unique, but is very marked and which one hopes will not change: it is a place of friendship and community; it is a place where one is made welcome and encouraged in one's work. There is a genuine collegial sense between all the staff, academic and administrative, and the students.

Dr John Agberagba (2014)


I did an MPhil in International Peace Studies, ISE in 2009-10 and the experience was so positive that I stayed on until 2014 for PhD research. I was most impressed by the quality of research supervision at ISE. During my five years at the department, all the PhD students I knew passed their degree; four African PhD students including myself passed their degree with minor corrections. I attribute this success to my experience of good supervision at ISE. I met my two supervisors once every month and twice a month in the last three months before the submission of my thesis for examination. My supervisors read all I wrote, they met for 30 minutes before I went in for our meeting and then we had at least an hour and half critical discussion of my work. After the meeting, a form was filled in indicating progress and objectives to be achieved by the next meeting. I think it is this basic supervisory structure that produces good result in the department. Additionally, my supervisors were very open to where I wanted to take my research; although I changed my research direction three times, they accompanied me in my dreams. I admire my supervisors for their dedication and how they got on so well in supervising me. The result of this good supervision is that at my viva exams most of the questions which arose, I had already discussed with my supervisors at one point or the other during my four years of research. Therefore, I would say that if you sign up for a research degree in Peace Studies at ISE, you are likely to be successful.

Dr Franka Winter (2013) - National University of Ireland Maynooth, Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellow


I completed my PhD in 2013 with a thesis on political bloggers in post-transitional Peru. During my research, I was based at the Irish School of Ecumenics' campus in Belfast. Working towards a PhD at ISE Belfast was a great experience: I received excellent support from my supervisor, Dr David Tombs, before, during, and after my PhD. He helped me secure the necessary funding to do the PhD in the first place, then was a very thorough critic of my developing thesis, and afterwards supported my search for a job. ISE Belfast is also a lovely place to spend several years of your life, as staff are wonderful and the relatively small number of MPhil and PhD students makes for a close, welcoming, and very international community.

Following my PhD I was recently awarded a prestigious two-year Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Fellowship to continue my own research on young middle-class people in contemporary Latin American cities. This fellowship, which would have been impossible to achieve without my PhD, will allow me to further my academic career in the field that I am most interested in. Again, my supervisor's support in applying for this fellowship was crucial and much appreciated.

Last updated 13 February 2019 by Irish School of Ecumenics (Email).