Why are academic theses not presented virtually on a permanent basis? This is the question that the global pandemic has brought up when doctoral defences have become virtual public events. Even Master’s theses could be presented publicly and virtually – which was the idea of students in the humanities at the University of Gothenburg.
When the class of future communicators at the Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science at the University of Gothenburg were supposed to present their Master’s theses, they found themselves in the middle of the Coronavirus restrictions. No gatherings, no social events, no interaction, no satisfactory wrap-up for all the hard work.
They came up with an idea that seems simple and evident: to present their theses virtually and in public. They decided to set up a website for their Master’s projects – or what they call a KoMMferens.
Now, thirteen students in the communicators’ programme with a focus on authorities and public affairs proudly present the outcome of their thesis work online.
– We, namely the whole class, had a brainstorm session over Zoom. We decided to set up a website as the best option. Then we also decided to record our presentations and create personal pages on the site to make up for not being able to present our work in public. Our teachers and supervisors were very positive and cheered us on the whole way, tells Emma Wahlstedt, who became the project manager for the collaborative process.
– We divided the class into different groups, similar to what a real communications department would have. One group handled the website development, the second one took care of advertising and the third dealt with the project management.
Master’s theses tend to catch onto topical issues and emerging phenomena that may not yet have become objects of academic inquiry. For example, many social phenomena in communication – not the least in people’s ways of using social media – may be such topics. This is why public presentations of completed academic theses might be interesting to the academic community and even to the general audience.
Could this idea be applied more widely after the pandemic, as well? Maybe developed more towards a live event?
– Absolutely, says Azra Halalkic, who was responsible for the website.
– This project will become part of the work portfolios of the involved – not just as an academic achievement but also as an application of communication skills. This way, we were able to apply our knowledge from our study programme and also broadened our scope of knowledge to photography, web design and layout.
Photo: Saga Hansson