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Deaf Studies program faculty members Joseph Murray, Erin Moriarty Harrelson, and Octavian Robinson led an international conference for aspiring deaf doctoral students in late August in Norway.

The conference, Dr Deaf (#DrDeaf), was held August 21-26 at the Folk High School for the Deaf in Aal, Norway, and attracted 24 scholars from 13 countries: Nepal, Wales, Scotland, The Netherlands, Norway, Belgium, Austria, Germany, Portugal, Spain, the Czech Republic, Denmark, and the United States. The program was entirely volunteer-run, with Dr. Murray and international colleagues Dr. Annelies Kusters and Dr. Maartje De Meulder leading the way.

Dr. Murray wrote in an email message that he came up with the idea for Dr Deaf after being inspired by the positive experiences many deaf people have had at the biennial Deaf Academics Conferences. “These conferences are spaces where deaf academics have gathered to share their research findings, to mentor younger academics, and to discuss our academic careers in deaf-friendly spaces. Many participants have experienced these conferences as empowering spaces for their professional development and for building networks with other deaf academics. Dr Deaf began as my attempt to provide additional deaf academic spaces in between DAC conferences, with a particular focus on mentoring younger deaf scholars and growing the number of deaf Ph.D.s,” he wrote.

“Outside of Gallaudet, there are few deaf-centered spaces where deaf people interested in academic life are able to learn more about academic careers, find mentoring for different aspects of academic life such as research and publishing, and get guidance on successfully completing the Ph.D. from other deaf academics who have ‘been there and done that,’” Dr. Murray continued.

Dr. Robinson noted that this conference furthered the Deaf Studies program’s commitment to supporting deaf-led research. He led the section on archival research, while Dr. Moriarty Harrelson led the activity on ethnographic fieldnotes and provided feedback and tips on writing fieldnotes. Dr. Murray presented on Linguistic Landscapes.

Last month’s Dr Deaf conference continued efforts that began in 2018, continuing in 2019, and moving online during the pandemic, all focused on supporting prospective doctoral students and their writing. Two more programs are planned for December 2022: a second Ph.D. workshop and a Winter Writing Retreat. For more information, visit al.fhs.no.

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