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Moving forward through writing retreat

  • Over the five days of The Lake Shift, held at Queen's University Biological Station (QUBS), participants took part in workshops and had blocks of time dedicated to writing.
    Over the five days of The Lake Shift, held at Queen's University Biological Station (QUBS), participants took part in workshops and had blocks of time dedicated to writing.
  • A total of 50 graduate students from 14 universities across Ontario took part in The Lake Shift, July 9-14, at Queen's University Biological Station (QUBS).
    A total of 50 graduate students from 14 universities across Ontario took part in The Lake Shift, July 9-14, at Queen's University Biological Station (QUBS).
  • Graduate students taking part in The Lake Shift also had many opportunities to try out activities other than writing and workshops, such as canoeing on Lake Opinicon.
    Graduate students taking part in The Lake Shift also had many opportunities to try out activities other than writing and workshops, such as canoeing on Lake Opinicon.
  • Getting away from the computer and taking part in some recreational activities, including volleyball, is a key element of The Lake Shift.
    Getting away from the computer and taking part in some recreational activities, including volleyball, is a key element of The Lake Shift.

Doctoral students from across Ontario made their way to Queen’s University Biological Station (QUBS) for a second straight year for The Lake Shift, a special writing retreat hosted by the School of Graduate Studies (SGS).

The Lake Shift builds upon the success of SGS programs such as Dissertation on the Lake and Dissertation Bootcamp, by providing PhD students with time for writing and sharing the camp experience and resources available to Queen’s students with their peers at other universities.

This year’s event, held July 9-14, brought together 50 graduate students from 14 universities (Brock, Carleton, Guelph, Lakehead, Laurentian, Nipissing, Trent, Toronto, Western, Wilfred Laurier, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Windsor, York, and Queen’s), to help them hone their writing skills, make progress on their dissertations, reflect on their writing practice, and take a breather or two in a beautiful, natural setting.  

“The beauty of The Lake Shift is that it provides graduate students with the opportunity to focus on writing while also getting away from their daily routines. Add in the beautiful surroundings and healthy meals, the result is a welcome balance of productivity and wellness,” says Kim McAuley, Acting Vice-Provost and Dean, School of Graduate Studies. “Apart from that, this event also brings graduate students together to exchange ideas, share tips and strategies for writing and research, and develop networks among their peers. “

Over the five days, participants take part in workshops and have blocks of time dedicated to writing. However, the schedule also includes opportunities for recreation and conversation with other attendees. It’s a model that has worked in Dissertation on the Lake and Dissertation Bootcamp, says Marta Straznicky, Associate Dean, School of Graduate Studies.

“We offered The Lake Shift as a way of making available to students at other Ontario universities the advantages of our writing support programs, especially the advantages of combining work, rest, and play in a supportive community and at this location, at QUBS, which is unique to Queen’s” she says.

Attendees were impressed with the mix of work, learning opportunities, as well as health and wellness on offer.

“There was a nice balance between time for writing and time for relaxation and as a result the writing went very quickly,” says Mark Sholdice, a PhD candidate at the University of Guelph. “I would highly recommend the retreat to other PhD students and, if I could, I’d stay here all summer and come back next year. But by that time I hope to be finished with my dissertation.”

QUBS is located on Lake Opinicon offering a beautiful shoreline and hiking trails. The field station features a library and multiple exhibitions to engage visitors and foster public awareness of environmental and conservation issues. QUBS is an internationally-renowned facility, regularly hosting field researchers from Canadian and international institutions.