Expanding Horizons

Expanding Horizons

Expanding Horizons

Professional Development

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Three graduate students standing behind a podium.The Game Plan

In teams of 3 to 5 members, PhD students from different fields of study will work together and combine their complementary knowledge and skills to work with an organization to determine their needs (i.e. the project), establish (as a team) a plan of action, and identify the outputs that can be delivered by the project end-date (April 2021). Each team will be assigned a mentor who will provide guidance and advice about working as a team, managing a project, and working with partners - basically, they will help the team unlock their full potential.


Students who would like to participate must be prepared to dedicate 5-10 hours/week to the project over a period of 5-6 months which includes a commitment to the following:

  • Available to participate in person in all aspect of the project from start to finish
  • Participate in preparatory workshops
  • Engage with the community partner
  • Attend regular meetings with his/her team and mentor
  • Actively participate and contribute to the work of the team
  • Participate in monthly progress meetings with each team presenting in 3-2-1 format (3 slides, 2 minute presentation and 1 minute for questions)
  • Present the project output/deliverable at a public capstone event
  • Time commitment: 5-7 hours per week (generally up to 5 hours at the start of the project and more towards its completion)

Community Partners interested in participating must identify an issue or challenge that is relevant to their organization and be prepared to identify a contact person to liaise and act as a resource for the team of PhD students aiming to address the challenge. They must commit to:

  • Attending an introductory meeting to 1) present the issue or challenge that the organization faces and what you hope a team of PhD students might address; and 2) answer questions from the students
  • Having a contact person who will meet with the team at the start of the project and serve as a resource as needed throughout the project period (October to March)

“It's an opportunity to get perspectives of individuals that are excited to participate in it, are eager, and bring perhaps a revitalized energy to something that you just haven't had the time to attack and complete.”
- Sonia Nobrega, QUBS

Workshops to prepare the team

Students participating in the PhD-Community initiative must attend an introductory workshop on teamwork. Closer to the public capstone event we will schedule a mandatory presentation skills workshop.

Before completing the first workshop (working and managing as a team), participants are required to attend presentations by the community partners where they will have the opportunity to ask questions and identify their top three choices of the partnerships that interest them the most.

“The workshops have given me confidence that I can add value to my local community. I have already encouraged several of my peers to register for the next session.”
- Michael Carter, a PhD student in geography who worked with Sistema Kingston.

Two smiling graduate students sitting at a table.

Team formation

Teams will be formed in consideration of the preferences of each participant (see above) and in accordance with the following criteria: each team will have 3 to 5 members; have representation from various discipline clusters (i.e. social sciences, humanities, physical/natural sciences, health sciences, engineering); no more than 2 members from any single discipline cluster (no more than 1 in a team of 3); and a team cannot have more than one member from a single academic unit. Each team will be assigned an experienced mentor.

The projects/partners

Partners are from the Kingston community and each has identified an issue or challenge to be addressed by one team. Each partner will: identify a contact person who will liaise with the team as needed throughout the duration of the project; make best efforts to attend the 3-2-1 presentations; and, will attend the capstone event.


Please visit the following link to sign up for the program: https://webapp.queensu.ca/sgs/exph/ (You may need to register for an Expanding Horizons account first. Click on the yellow banner at the top of the page to get directly to the PhD-CI registration.)

Learn more about Workshops & Meeting Times,  and the Projects for 2021/22