Sites, scents and a sense of self

Looking back at Spring School 2017

GSA Highlands & Islands recently hosted the annual Spring School at the Creative Campus.

The seasonal schools for postgraduate research students – Winter, Spring and Autumn – are an important part of our innovative modes of distributed delivery.

InDI’s Master of Research and PhD students make up the Creative Campus Cohort. Students with shared interests work together to evolve Design Innovation methodologies.

Spring School is designed as an opportunity to not only bring the cohort together and build the relationship of the group but to deliver the skills required to be a world class researcher.

This year’s programme included a range of workshops aimed at developing critical writing and research skills. Students engaged in activities based around crystallising their research processes, articulating their own position within their context of inquiry, and reflecting on the multisensory elements of the methods and approaches that they are developing and applying.

A workshop ‘Artefacts, Sites and Processes’, hosted by Dr Frances Robertson and Mairi Mackenzie, involved object-orientated exercises, including a ‘smell walk’, a sense-driven journey around the Altyre Campus. Each student was also asked to communicate our practices and research contexts through the analysis of everyday objects. 

pots spring school

Objects chosen by the Spring School students to represent their practice. Image credit: Rhona McNicol

Stationary spring school

Objects chosen by the Spring School students to represent their practice. Image credit: Zoe Prosser

Here PhD student Anna Spencer reflects on her experience of the event.

There is a different quality to the cohort schools – being surrounded by a local community to that of being surrounded by your academic peers. This is the fifth school I have attended and I think I am now learning how to navigate them and make the most of the experience.

“Spring School 2017 had a clear developmental arc with specific moments of challenge and input along the way which demonstrated a depth of consideration to the cohorts’ current positions. In particular, the pairing of M.Res. students with PhD students in line with areas of common interest was really rewarding and offers a good precedent for how overlapping cohorts can interact over time with students clustering around shared themes.

“The emphasis of the week was to develop confidence in our sense of self – our practice, our position in the research and how we present this through our writing. Through contemplating site and scent we creatively explored the world views and assumptions we bring to our research. In order to better understand what is right in front of you, it must be viewed indirectly. It can be really liberating to look at your current research and practice through an entirely new lens.”

To read more about Anna’s work and the rest of the PhD students, see our PhD student page. More information about the M.Res. students is available here.

And you can also read about our programme of Seasonal Schools.

Lorianna Smell walk

Lorianna Paradise explores Altyre Estate during the Artefacts, Sites and Processes workshop. Image credit: Rhona McNicol


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Categorised in: GSA Highlands and Islands, Master of Research, News, Research, Seasonal Schools, Spring & Autumn Schools