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Graduate Seminar
LFS 500
Instructor: Dr. Carol McAusland
Office: 337 MCML
Office Hours:
Class Schedule: Thursdays 2 - 3:30pm
Classroom: MCML 358
Important Course Pages
Lecture Notes
Course Discussion

Course Description

Weekly seminar in topics related to land and food systems and the ISLFS graduate degrees. (3 credits)

Course Format

LFS 500 will meet once weekly. Activities will include student presentations concerning their research as well as presentations from LFS staff and faculty regarding degree requirements, research in land and food related disciplines such as economics, sociology, and plant science (Sept 29, Oct 27, Nov 17, 24 and Dec 1). Most weeks, the meeting will close with “10-minute tips”: presentations on topics related to succeeding in graduate school.

Course Learning Objectives

After completing this course, each student will be able to:

  • Articulate the research methodologies employed in a variety of disciplines related to land and food systems.
  • Use common language to present her research ideas, methods, and results to non-specialists.
  • Give an “elevator pitch” concerning her research.
  • Respond to audience questions.
  • Evaluate formal presentations (including her own).
  • Ask relevant questions.
  • Break down into manageable tasks barriers to degree completion.
  • Identify and confront obstacles to career success, including impostor syndrome, confirmation bias, implicit bias, malfunctioning mentor/mentoree relationships, and plagiarism.

Course Requirements

  • One 15 minute “Three Moments” presentation.
  • One 30-minute presentation of your research question, methods, and results.
  • One “elevator pitch”.
  • Two written critiques of others’ presentations.
  • One written self-critique of own presentation.
  • Attendance at ≥9 of the course’s 12 regular meetings; 1st day doesn’t count.

Note: the order of presentations was determined by the sample() function in R. Mutually beneficial trades are fine, provided the instructor is notified at least one week in advance.

Course Evaluation

Grading: Pass/Fail, based on completion of course requirements.

Guidance for Presentations

  • Three Moments (Sept 15 & 22): in 15 minutes
    • Describe significant past experiences that brought you to grad school and your field/topic of interest (~10 minutes)
    • Identify future career goals & objectives (~3 min)
      • If everything works out as you hope, what will you be doing 15 years from now?
    • Articulate your current research topic and objectives (~2 min)
    • Personal stuff encouraged
    • se media (e.g. slides)
  • Elevator Pitch (Oct 6)
    • There will be times in your career when you’ve got only 45 seconds to tell someone about your research. For this talk, you want to prepare a 45 second monologue that conveys what your project does and why it is important.
  • Three Minute Pitch (Oct 6)
    • Sometimes you’ll get more than 45 seconds. Prepare and deliver a 3 minute version of your elevator pitch.
  • 30-minute Research Presentation (October 13, 20, Nov 3, 10)
    • Using slides (Powerpoint, Beamer, or other technology), describe
      • your research question
      • why your question is important to your field(s) of inquiry
      • your research methods, including
        • your hypotheses
        • data/evidence collection methods
        • methods for data analysis
      • your anticipated/current/final results
      • how your research impacts inquiry outside your own discipline
      • how your research benefits the non-academic community.
    • The audience for your presentation includes bright folks who are non-experts in your field, so it is imperative that your presentation not include any jargon.

Course Outline

Date Activity
Sept 8 Housekeeping
Sept 15 Three Moments – 4 presenters @ 15 minutes each Martina, Huamani, Colin, Carrie
Sept 22 Three Moments – 4 presenters at 15 minutes each Victoria, Tebogo, Celina, Sarah
Sept 29 Shelley Small – Official and Unofficial Advice for completing your ISLFS degree – (Carol as backup).

Sample elevator pitch (Carol)

Oct 6 Presentation of elevator- and 3-minute pitches Presentation Order:

Victoria, Sarah, Martina, Huamani, Celina, Tebogo, Carrie, Colin

Oct 13 30 minute “plain-language” research presentations
  • Tebogo
  • Celina
Oct 20 30 minute “plain-language” research presentations
  • Carrie
  • Huamani
Oct 27 Faculty Research Presentation: Hannah Wittman
Nov 3 30 minute “plain-language” research presentations
  • Sarah
  • Victoria
Nov 10 30 minute “plain-language” research presentations
  • Colin
  • Martina
Nov 17 Faculty Research Presentation: Eduardo Jovel
Nov 24 Faculty Research Presentation: Sean Smukler
Dec 1 Faculty Research Presentation: Carol McAusland