Erik Sigurdson

As a doctoral student at Umeå University, Erik Sigurdson had ties to two doctoral departments. His research was strongly affected by the interdisciplinary environment.

Erik Sigurdson has just defended his doctoral thesis at Umeå University. Entitled ”It’s in the Walls”, it’s about gender in crafts in compulsory school.

”It’s a study of the teaching environment in wood and metal shop. It has never changed – the tables look just as they did at the end of the 19th century. The environment was created in this way because they wanted some students, meaning boys, to learn certain skills and be taught certain experiences and movements. I call that sociomaterial masculinity.”

Road to research

Erik himself worked as a crafts teacher for many years but felt himself drawn back to academia. He first received a position as lecturer at the Department of Creative Studies (Teacher Education) and after some time he enrolled in a master’s course. When that was finished, he applied for a doctoral position and was accepted after just one attempt.

”I was very aware of the way forward in research, I had my sights set on that level.”

Erik has had ties to two doctoral departments, the Umeå Centre for Gender Studies and the Centre for Teaching and Learning (FU), which he found advantageous. Both are interdisciplinary local research departments within Umeå University. The Centre for Gender Studies, established in 2001 in order to encourage and support gender research, partially financed his doctoral position. FU provided most of the obligatory courses that were a part of his education.

”The first half of my doctoral study time was very tight, it was almost like being in two classes. The interdisciplinary environment had a big impact on my thesis. It wasn’t like it made it easier, but more interesting!”

Valuable seminar group

During his entire study period, Erik was part of a seminar group organised by the Centre for Gender Studies where doctoral students from the entire university discussed and analysed each other’s work and provided encourgament. He found the group quite valuable:

”It doesn’t matter if people have different perspectives, the environment is open and you know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. I’ve used that group quite a lot and shown them some of my texts – science massage I like to call it.”

Erik Sigurdson stresses that research departments, through their networks and resources, offer good possibilities for internationalisation. He himself has participated in short courses abroad in cooperation with other universities.

Having your own project motivates

Erik is aware that he’s had an easier study period than many of his colleagues. Without a family of his own, he’s been able to focus completely on his project. Cooperation with his supervisors worked well and the required teaching that was a part of his employment was routine for him as an experienced teacher. He does point out that the overall picture of life as a doctoral student is negatively overexaggerated.

”I believe it’s a basis for a great deal of myth building, that it’s so unbelievably difficult and catastrophic. And it is in one way, that you put in so much work. But carrying out your own research project motivates in a completely different way than studying for credits, one really searches for knowledge. It hasn’t been the least bit agonising, it’s been a lot of fun!”

Page last updated 2015-03-25