Graduate Special Interest Groups (GSIGs)
About the GSIG Initiative
In accordance with UIC’s health and safety policies, GSIGs collaborate virtually during Covid-19.
The Graduate Special Interest Groups (GSIG) initiative was established by UIC College of Education graduate students to create a formal framework for providing opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration and socialization across the College. The program was initiated in response to students’ ongoing requests for improving individual and intra-departmental collaboration within the College.
The GSIG initiative strives to build a stronger research and networking community for graduate school and beyond. With over 150 graduate students participating in some form in the first two years, the initiative continues to be student-designed and led and faculty supported. GSIG has evolved to include a variety of opportunities described below for inter-departmental dialogue and connections around shared research and scholarly interests.
Graduate Special Interest Groups (GSIGs) provide a forum for graduate students to engage in an interdisciplinary research community focused on common interests similar to those in professional organizations such as AERA or UCEA, led by and for students.
GSIGs meet monthly to discuss research and developments in topic area, collaborate on ongoing projects, and support one another through the academic process with a shared goal to connect, commune, research, and expand knowledge. GSIGs are formed by students and the formats, activities, and topics are designed by its members. These interdisciplinary groups have engaged in activities such as discussing readings, critically engaging with social issues, attending or presenting at conferences, and submitting collaborative publications, among other activities.
Based on survey responses and data collected across time from graduate students regarding student needs, the GSIG leaders coordinate a variety of professional development (PD) opportunities. In addition to signature events such as Summer Symposia, Writing Retreats, and Invited Speakers, two types of PD sessions are ongoing each semester: Address the Desk and Research Workshops. Together, these sessions serve to provide time to expand research networks and build valuable and productive bonds among students and faculty across disciplines.
- Address the Desk sessions are informal talks between faculty members and students to discuss experiences and challenges of the scholarly journey focused on issues relevant to navigating academia such as “Research as a Form of Self Preservation,” “Pushing through Academic Angst,” and “Racism and the Academy.”
- Research Workshops are faculty-led workshops addressing skills for enhancing research engagement such as “Navigating the Grant Writing Process,” “The Article Writing Process,” “Navigating the IRB Process,” and “Collaborating and Conducting Research with Community-Based Programs.
- Writing Retreats and Writing Groups: The GSIG leaders also coordinate with faculty members to plan writing retreats and writing groups that provide dedicated time, space, and camaraderie and accountability for focused writing among peers that include graduate student and faculty participation.