Being Well in Academia: A Candid Conversation About Challenges and Connection


Welcome to The Academic Life! In this episode you’ll hear about:

  • The other hidden curriculum: the support and care strategies necessary for being well in academia
  • Systemic and structural barriers
  • Undiagnosed academic challenges, and personal traumas guest and host have faced
  • Why we all need support
  • How to support someone in tough times and why “help” needs to be customized
  • the book Being Well in Academia: Ways to Fell Stronger, Safer and More Connected

Our book is: Being Well in Academia: Ways to Fell Stronger, Safer and More Connected

by Dr. Petra Boynton. Part of the 'Insider Guides to Success in Academia' series from Routledge, this book offers practical and realistic guidance to students and early-career researchers on wellbeing topics that really matter, but which often get overlooked. Being Well addresses many of the personal challenges of trying to remain in academia when you are in need of support [perhaps you’re finding your work, study or personal life challenging or overwhelming; are experiencing bullying, harassment or abuse; or your progress is being blocked by unfair, exploitative or precarious systems; or you want to support a friend or colleague who’s struggling]. Being Well in Academia provides resources and workable solutions to help you feel stronger, safer and more connected in what has become an increasingly competitive and stressful environment.

Our guest is: Dr. Petra Boynton, a social psychologist and Agony Aunt who teaches and researches in International Healthcare. She specializes in addressing the safety and wellbeing of students and staff in academic settings.

Our host is: Dr. Christina Gessler, a historian specializing in under-represented voices. As referenced in this episode, between December 2017 and early 2020 she survived a wildfire, a mudslide, lost five loved ones on by one, and then the pandemic hit. She coped by joining a poetry writing group for reluctant grief experts, asking friends to take her to a lot of movies, and spending time in nature. She believes everyone deserves support [inside and outside academia]. It was out of this belief this that she co-founded the Academic Life channel on NBN with Dr. Dana Malone in 2020; she and Dr. Malone serve as the co-producers and hosts.

Listeners to this episode might also be interested in:

  • The Unrecovery Star, referenced in this episode, found on page 78 and the Kvetching Circle and The Ring Theory, found on page 79 of Being Well in Academia
  • Your PhD Survival Guide by Katherine Firth, Liam Connell, and Peta Freestone
  • A Field Guide to Grad School by Jessica Calarco
  • These videos and resources from Dr. Pooky Knightsmith.
  • A discussion about natural disasters and poetry writing by Dr. Christina Gessler and her friend and neighbor, poet Jen Strube: 

You are smart and capable, but you aren’t an island and neither are we. We reach across our mentor network to bring you experts about everything from how to finish that project, to how to take care of your beautiful mind. Wish we’d bring on an expert about something? DM us on Twitter: The Academic Life @AcademicLifeNBN.

Your Host

Christina Gessler

Dr. Christina Gessler is the creator, show host, and producer of the Academic Life podcast. She holds a PhD in U.S. history.
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