The Justice Lab at University of Wisconsin-Madison Writing Collaborative was born out of the COVID-19 crisis. Graduate students who were previously conducting fieldwork had to leave their sites as social distancing measures were implemented and IRB suspended all human subjects research.
After a brief period of reflecting upon their research goals, we collectively decided to create a collaborative space to support each other. Graduate training is a liminal, isolating period as one hones their critical thinking skills. Under normal circumstances, the pressure for productivity and publications can lead to self-doubt, and studies have shown that graduate students are six times more likely to suffer from mental health issues. Under the grave situation created by COVID-19, normal pressures increased immensely, and we sought to create a space to support one another, our work, and our commitment to applying our research. This developed into a platform to advocate and create policy for the vulnerable populations who we research.
The Writing Collaborative is primarily a virtual writing space committed to supporting students and maintaining accountability to our writing goals. Peer mentoring and discussions of productive writing habits occur organically and help us to advance through graduate school. We provide a space to work, laugh, and a tether to sanity during the madness of grad school!
From Monday through Thursday, we hold three-hour virtual sessions, broken into three 45- to 50-minute writing periods with 10- to 15-minute check-ins in between each writing period. Each day, between two and six students from the Justice Lab at University of Wisconsin-Madison join the Writing Collaborative with Professor Eason.