Fostering Community and Situating a Community of Practice
Research at the University of Auckland explored the aspirations and practices of PhD students in Arts and Humanities to better understand how to support them and enhance an educational experience described in pedagogical literature as potentially isolating and onerous. The findings revealed the need for a greater sense of interdisciplinary community amongst doctoral students. This generated a project to investigate online communities in order to develop the design for an effective interaction space that fostered interdisciplinary social capital and community building.
This research also led to a critical analysis of the dominance of a science-commerce model in the university's strategic planning, and consideration of ways in which an alternative model could be established for the Arts and Humanities. The concept of an interdisciplinary Community of Practice in partnership with Waitakere city was developed as a way of enabling residents to engage with cultural practice and academics to assist in the creation of public knowledge, beginning with a project to support and encourage a CoP of Documentary Makers.
First eco-city in New Zealand, Waitakere was internationally recognized in 2006 with a Livcom Award as one of the world's most innovative, liveable cities. In 2007 Rolling Stone magazine ranked Mayor Bob Harvey as one of the top 100 Coolest People on the Planet.
Keywords: Community of Practice, Doctoral Experience, Retention and Attrition, Interdisciplinary Networking
Ann Katrina Ingrid Poulsen
Doctoral Student and Research Assistant, Department of English
Dr Jennifer Curtin
Dean of Postgraduate Studies, University of Auckland