Expanding Horizons

Expanding Horizons

Expanding Horizons

Professional Development

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The Lake Shift

"The Lake Shift is valuable time away from the distractions and anxieties of grad student life. The stability, friendships, and support that the Lake Shift offers allowed me to focus on writing and thinking through my research problems in new ways. Meeting amazing researchers from across Ontario opened my eyes to the fact that all grad students share many of the same challenges in research and writing. I learned so many strategies, techniques, and ideas for writing, editing, and revising my work that will stay with me for years to come. Also seeing a full sky of stars and muskrats was the ultimate break from the stress of grad life.  Thank you for this wonderful time."

James FitzGerald, York University

The Lake Shift is a thesis writing retreat for doctoral students only from Ontario universities. The first year was only a four day retreat in July 2016 at the Queen’s Biology Station on Lake Opinicon (a 50 minute drive north of Kingston). The retreat provided graduate students with structured time to write, workshops on tips for effective dissertation writing, opportunities to network with other graduate students and all in a beautiful location. The objective of the retreat was to enable graduate students to make substantial progress in writing their thesis and to develop foundations to maintain that momentum. The fringe benefits of The Lake Shift included swimming, boating, hiking and campfire conversations and make for a balance of the cerebral with the physical and social for a well-rounded experience.

Be sure to Tweet us with any photos using the hashtag #thelakeshift, and follow SGS on Twitter at @queensgradstudy!

Registration for 2019 is now closed to both Queen's Students and other Ontario Universities.

For Queen's students only - registration will be via the Expanding Horizons system each year when open. 

For doctoral students from other Ontario Universities - contact your grad office for details and how to apply.

More Testimonials

"I'm a doctoral candidate who works full-time and is also a parent. To say that writing time is hard to carve out is a bit of an understatement, and I was hoping that the Lake Shift would be an opportunity to get that dedicated writing time I so desperately needed to work through some of the more complex parts of my project. However, I didn't just get dedicated writing time. At the Lake Shift, I had an opportunity to rest and reconnect with my work on a level that I hadn't been at in some time. I always say that to get work done, you're best served by either immersion (getting to engage with your work deeply and thoughtfully for a longer period of time) or momentum (getting to engage with your work frequently and habitually, even if only in short bursts). The Lake Shift allowed me the immersion I needed, but it also allowed me to experiment with different ways of working in a low-risk environment. After all, if something didn't quite work, like a new reading strategy or working in a different location, there was time to recoup and try something else later. As a result, I came to learn a lot about my writing habits and ways of adapting my work to suit the time I had available to me, which will serve me in good stead for the duration of the dissertation in the months to come. The organization was excellent, the company was fantastic and dynamic, and the setting was absolutely beautiful. I would recommend that students at any stage of the writing process attend this retreat, but I'd especially recommend it to those who find themselves fatigued, in a rut, or going through the affectionately-named "Valley of S***" that many people end up in during the middle-to-end stages of the dissertation. A change of scenery, the energy of a community of writers from other disciplines, and the perfect balance of structure and freedom that the retreat schedule offers may be precisely what you need to remember why you took on such an enormous project, to begin with."

Diana Samu-Visser, Western

"Thank you for hosting such a great lake shift. I did have a wonderful time there. The lake shift indeed helped me in various way, not only by writing but also finding the motivation to write. The peaceful place and great people around inspired me to think and plan. I am keeping and will keep my writing/reading routine from the lake shift. Again, I do appreciate all your efforts. Thank you."

Wenjing Gao, Carleton University

"...Queen’s University’s Lakeshift PhD retreat on the shores of Opinicon Lake provided a much-needed boost in the home stretch."

Mary Bartram, Carleton