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How being a visiting scholar can improve your PhD research

School of Education, Communication and Society

11 February 2020

PhD candidate Kate Greer explains how collaborating with researchers and working with other PhD students at Uppsala University benefitted her research in climate change and environmental education.

Kate Greer is encouraging fellow PhD students to explore opportunities to be a visiting scholar following the successful time she spent at the Swedish Centre of Education for Sustainable Development (SWEDESD) at Uppsala University.

Kate, who is in the School of Education, Communication and Society (ECS), was invited by Professor Anna Danielsson, a professor at Uppsala and a Visiting Professor at ECS, after she reviewed Kate’s paper, The Capabilities Approach: A Fresh Perspective for Understanding Environmental Education.

Kate explains: “The paper began as my MA dissertation and, over the past two years, has been developed through the work of a writing team in ECS, made up of Dr John Owens, Dr Heather King, Dr Melissa Glackin and myself. As a new researcher, writing in this team has shown me just how rich collaborative writing is a for learning and for generating ideas.”

A Global Research Grant then made the two-week visit possible. “I am grateful to Anna for extending the invitation, to my supervisors, Heather and Melissa, for their encouragement and the Global Research Grant through King’s Mobility Office for the funding. I strongly encourage other PhD candidates to make the most of these types of opportunities – to find ways to be a visiting scholar – alongside your PhD. The application process for the Global Research Grant was straightforward, and the rewards were great."

So how did the trip help Kate in terms of her studies?

“My visit to Uppsala University was terrific. I met several established academics in my field who gave generous input into my research. The combination of the people I met and the time I spent shook up several of my research ideas in ways that will ultimately (hopefully!) make it all the stronger."

I strongly encourage other PhD candidates to make the most of these types of opportunities – to find ways to be a visiting scholar – alongside your PhD– Kate Greer
Uppsala University campus building and statue

Kate delivered a seminar about her PhD research at SWEDESD: Climate Change Education in England: Policy Influencers Perspectives. As a new researcher, this was a valuable experience. “Negotiating the topic and crafting my developing research ideas into a suitable presentation for this group was daunting  The discussion following the presentation was challenging but invigorating: it has provided me fresh insight into aspects of the research that I have been struggling with.”

Kate’s visit expanded her network and added a new dimension to the relationship between King’s and Uppsala. “I returned to King’s having experienced two of the most productive and intellectually stimulating weeks of my academic career, and with lots of ideas for research ideas beyond my PhD.”

Kate also spent time working in the PhD student office in the Department of Education. Most of the PhD candidates she met had substantial careers behind them, much like Kate, who has worked for several organisations around sustainability, clean energy policy and education. She found it enjoyable and instructive to discuss their research – content, methodologies and their experiences of PhD life.

“The transition from professional career to academia has been stimulating, humbling, and is still happening. Coming into academic world was something of a new beginning. Learning so many new ways of working has not been easy but it has been invigorating. I love it!”

Kate is due to finish her PhD in 2020 and has big plans.

“After my PhD, I hope to continue contributing to society’s response to the climate crisis through research and teaching – all hands (and minds) on deck!"

Kate Greer headshot
Kate Greer

About the Centre

SWEDESD is a well-established research and development centre in the Faculty of Educational Sciences at Uppsala University. The Centre runs integrated collaborative research and development projects in Sweden and abroad. Find out more about the Centre.

King’s Global Research Grants

The Global Research Grant is intended to provide a financial contribution to enable King's research mobility overseas. Whilst aimed at individuals, the grants are also intended to develop and sustain research partnerships with overseas organisations for King's academics, research groups, networks, departments, divisions and faculties. Find out more about the Global Research Grants.

In this story

Kate Greer

Kate Greer

PhD candidate


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