At the moment I am employed as a Support Officer for European Programmes at a non-profit research organisation, called Stimmuli for Social Change, based in beautiful Thessaloniki, Greece. Our work at Stimmuli concerns itself with education and social innovation and is focused on cooperating with other organisations of all sorts (educational, governmental, non-governmental, businesses, etc.), developing exciting (trans)national collaborative projects, supporting social innovation at all levels of education (from primary education to teachers training and lifelong learning). I am thoroughly enjoying my professional role and all the new and applied skills I’m acquiring, while I am very interested in our key themes around social change, particularly with reference to the aftermath of the economic crisis in Greece, immigration, human potential as a human right (the beloved capabilities approach!) and young people’s prospects.
Brief outline of PhD research My thesis. My doctoral research was situated at the intersections of sociology, social psychology and politics, more specifically Greek politics and European politics. The research project focused on the case of Greece and it explored the socio-economic phenomenon of ‘financial crisis’ in relation to the question of collective identities, as these are formed within an interplay between culture and politics and filtered through people’s cognitive and emotional abilities. These relations were investigated through the conceptual lenses of national and European identities and the historical, cultural and political relation of Greece with Europe and the European Union. My methodological approach was quite qualitative and participatory, while the results were very interesting and multifaceted. All and all, it was a rewarding research experience.
Why did you choose to study for your PhD in the School of Languages and Social Sciences? After completing my BA degree in Sociology and Peace Studies, I was determined to become a researcher, which meant a couple of things: a) I needed to do a research-oriented Master’s degree that would prepare me for a PhD research project, and b) I needed to come up with ways to sponsor all these postgraduate studies! My MSc in Political Research came and went (thank you University of Strathclyde!) and when the time arrived to progress to PhD level, I was fortunate enough to be offered a full studentship by the School of Languages and Social Sciences at Aston University. This factor was a decisive one in my choice and I gladly accepted the much appreciated and generous offer.
How has your PhD helped you in your current occupation?A research doctoral program gives you the opportunity to explore a research topic of your interest to some considerable depth, and while you’re at it, you gain important research competences and other transferable skills (management, initiative, designing, methodological thinking, digital skills, etc). During the progression of the PhD all skills related to academia (theorising, writing, public speaking, discussion facilitating, etc.) are further advanced and refined. Simultaneously, during a PhD, if one is lucky enough to be in a university like Aston where numerous opportunities to get involved in the local community are offered, other valuable transversal skills will also flourish. While I was a student at Aston, I enjoyed both becoming a better researcher and getting engaged in extra-curriculum activities, such as the Rota Team, the Aston Postgraduate and Research Society, the Mentoring Scheme, to name a few. The rounded sum of all these undertakings certainly assists in getting and maintaining the next job or funded post by lengthening and enriching one’s CV, social networks and capabilities.
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