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Queen's University

Writing on the water


By Andrew Stokes, Communications Officer.  See Queen's News Centre story here:

Finishing a doctoral dissertation is a long process of researching, writing and revising, but a new pilot program by the School of Graduate Studies is adding hiking, swimming and canoeing to the mix.

From August 25-28, 34 graduate students will have the opportunity to take part in Dissertation on the Lake, a writing retreat held atQueen’s University Biological Station30 minutes north of Kingston on Elbow Lake. Students will be housed in the university’s 10 two-bedroom cabins and will spend their days in writing, recreation and cooking with their cabin mates.

Elbow Lake is located 30 minutes north of Kingston. (Photo courtesy of QUBS Outreach Flickr).


“The idea for the program came to me when I visiting one of Elbow Lake’s open houses,” says Sandra den Otter, Associate Dean, School of Graduate Studies. “I was taken aback by its beauty and tranquility and thought it would be an excellent place to convene a writing community. Writing can be a solitary endeavour, and this is an opportunity to change that.”

Days spent at Elbow Lake will be structured around two three-hour writing sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, with interspersed breaks to explore the Station’s grounds and set goals for the next day’s work
“This trip is strongly encouraging a work/life balance. Writing successfully for a long period of time requires incorporating exercise, time with friends, good nutrition, a community and a chance to experience diversity in setting, thought and people,” says den Otter. “Dissertation on the Lake aims to provide all those things.”

Attracting students from a wide variety of disciplines, Dissertation on the Lake is just one of the SGS’ programs for supporting graduate students while they write their theses. It joins the likes of Thesis Persistence, a weekly writing group run by SGS in Stauffer Library and Dissertation Boot Camp, an intensive writing retreat that stresses focus and discipline.

Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000