The Dutch Research School for Media Studies Summer School 2020

The Netherlands Research School for Media Studies (RMeS) is a national network of academic experts in media research that supports Ph.D. and Research Master students throughout the country.

Maastricht University, the coordinating institution of IGNITE, was to offer a face-to-face summer school to the Research School in June 2020 utilising based on the twin concepts of design thinking and maker culture in the lovely city of Maastricht. Covid-19 put an end to those plans. It, however, did not put an end to the summer school. Given that all the content for IGNITE is online, Professor Susan Schreibman and Dr. Marianne Huang, the academic coordinators of the Summer School, were easily able to pivot the summer school into a virtual event.

Taking place between 24th May and 25th June, the summer school provided the 45 participants with the skills, theories, and methods to:

1) take a more creative, proactive, and empowered approach to conceptual thinking and research design;
2) to explore meaning-making in modalities beyond the textual;
3) to open up new critical and creative ways of thinking about what humanities students can offer the grand challenges of our time.

Over the course of five weeks, the summer school students explored #dariahTeach content asynchryonously, punctuated by synchronous tutorials, workshops, and keynotes. Videos of the two keynotes, the first by Dr. Matt Ratto, the developer of the theory of critical making, and Signe Ungerman and Maria Engermann, the founders of MANND on MANND VR Experiences are available from the #dariahTeach YouTube channel.

While the primary aim of the summer school was to provide participants with the skills, theories, and methods to take a more creative, proactive, and empowered approach to research, it also served to provide them with the opportunity to critically reflect and think through how the current corona-times have changed our lives, our educational processes, our relationships, and our connectivity.

Overall, the summer school was widely positively received by the participants, with over 83% having a positive experience with the event organization, the Zoom sessions and balance of workload. Here is what some of our participants had to say:

“The intuition with which I signed up for this Summer School has never proved to be so correct! These past two days have given me different, sometimes better words and a perspective to what I am already researching. It has given me a very clear direction as to where to take my research beyond a P.hD.”

“Subjectively – as I am very much interested in the themes raised in this Summer School, it was very, very inspiring and both workshops I took part in were great!”

“The entire summer school was very well organized. The sessions were challenging and refreshing, always inspiring. And there were also very few technical difficulties. I learned a lot of practical theoretical models concerning how to apply design thinking, as well as critical reflections on how to further develop your thoughts by making.”