For the last three years, the place to be every first Thursday of each month is at the evening gathering of the Michigan State AGEP Learning Community. This tradition started with six individuals, equal number of faculty and graduate students, who started meeting informally to discuss a wide range of topics related to graduate education, inclusiveness and the preparation of future faculty in the STEM and SBES disciplines.
Now these monthly community meetings regularly attract over forty graduate students, post-docs and faculty from several departments including the Graduate School. There is a student steering committee that keeps the content of the meetings relevant and the structure flexible as to serve the needs of the participants. The open invitation to engage in the community activities is to all members of our institution who share the goals of the AGEP initiative, namely the development of a professoriate that reflects the demographic profile of our nation.
Although the structure of the meetings is flexible and dynamic, it always highlights a pair of “cross talks” from student members of the community. These cross talks are short presentations that are delivered without electronic visual aids or handouts, just using the chalk board. The community also provides opportunities to share key information regarding graduate school success and helps to facilitate a camaraderie that extends beyond the academic setting.