Yale, University College London extend doctoral student exchange agreement

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Doctoral students from Yale and the University College London (UCL) joined officials from the two universities at the signing ceremony. Pictured are (from left) Seth Mat Noor and Laura Silva of UCL; Sarah Derbew of Yale; Yale President Peter Salovey; UCL Pro-Vice-Provost David Bogle; Dean of the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Lynn Cooley; and Katherine Hindley and Elisabeth Becker of Yale. (Photo by Michael Marsland)

Yale and the University College London (UCL) celebrated the extension of an exchange agreement between the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and UCL’s Doctoral School at an event on May 2 in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

Yale President Peter Salovey, Graduate School Dean Lynn Cooley, and UCL Doctoral School Pro-Vice-Provost David Bogle were in attendance and offered remarks, as did several graduate students from Yale and UCL, who spoke about their experiences in the exchange program.

The exchange agreement is an element of the Yale-UCL Collaborative. Launched in October 2009, the collaborative seeks to increase the scope and quality of creativity, secure joint funding for shared initiatives between Yale and UCL, foster the most efficient use of resources, and enrich both communities. The collaborative began with a focus on cardiovascular medicine, but has expanded to include students and faculty from a wide range of disciplines. Through the exchange program, Yale Ph.D. students can undertake a period of research at UCL as part of their doctorate under the supervision of a UCL advisor, and doctoral students from UCL may do the same at Yale.

“We really hope that with the extension of this graduate student exchange, Ph.D. students at Yale and their counterparts at UCL, will find new avenues for collaboration and investigation,” said Salovey. “There is unlimited potential to the ways in which our universities can work together.”

Students who participated in the exchange say they have found this to be true. Sarah Derbew, a Yale graduate student in classics, spent three months at UCL and was particularly inspired by London’s museums.

“The museum scene was really formative for me,” she said. “It ended up guiding one of my dissertation chapters and became a way for me to think about museum spaces and archives.”

Katherine Hindley, a Yale graduate student in medieval studies, said she benefitted not only from the expertise of medievalist scholars at UCL, but also from meeting other students who shared her specific interests. She and Anya Adair, a graduate student in the Yale English Department, collaborated with UCL students to teach a series of workshops at UCL on digital editing of medieval manuscripts. The series has since been taught several times at both Yale and UCL and continues to draw student interest.

The collaborative is also benefits faculty members and researchers. One objective of the collaborative is to encourage faculty members to move away from interacting only with those they already know in their fields, and to engage in deep and broad relationships across departments, disciplines, and cultures. The collaborative also allows faculty and researchers to take advantage of both Yale and UCL’s complementary resources, such as curricula and research specialties. Faculty in the biomedical sciences report that they have found this to be particularly useful, as researchers are able to share the labs, specialized equipment, differing national regulatory environments, and disease protocols across the universities.  

“It’s about enhancing the experience of our research teams, access to expertise and facilities, and broadening the career horizons [of the graduate students],” Bogle explained.

Cooley agreed, noting, “We’ve gone beyond forging faculty-student collaborations, and we’re now forging the network for the next generation of scholars who are coming together and inventing new ways of looking at the world.”

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