The History department does a lot more than just teach and research history. We’re home to a community of students and staff who have a wide range of interests and talents. As student activities officer, it’s my role to support students in some of the extracurricular initiatives that the department funds. These range from skills- and career-development activities like writing, designing, editing and publishing The Manchester Historian, to organising an annual Staff vs Student sports match with the History Society. In this post, I’ll share some of the activities our students have undertaken with the support of the department this year.
The History Society is entirely student-led and student-run. The department funds some of its activities, and I check in every now and again to make sure things are running smoothly. But all the wonderful successes the Society has had this year are down to the hard working executive committee.
This year HistSoc kicked off the academic year with its annual Pub Quiz. Breaking with tradition, History Staff united to form one team of all the talents and romped home to victory. In hindsight this was perhaps unfair, given that our own Dr Luke Kelly was a University Challenge contestant in his student days. But success for the students did eventually follow at the Staff vs Student netball match, with the students edging out the staff in a competitive 21-11 victory. Players and spectators raised a creditable £40 for the mental health charity Mind. This victory was all the more impressive given that it came hot on the heels of the previous evening’s History and Politics Ball. While staff had been brushing up on the finer points of (or in truth concept of) netball, our student players were enjoying a night of dinner and dancing at the Mercure Hotel in the city centre, arranged by the HistSoc ball committee. This was a fitting way to end a year that featured a regular programme of socials, and a well-attended Society trip to Budapest over the winter break.
The Manchester Historian is published for students, by students in the history department. This year has seen three editions published and a complete redesign of both the branding and the website. A hard-working editorial collective has overseen the publication of editions on the history of North America, gender and sexuality, and a World Cup special published this June. Ever-resourceful, the Historian’s editors managed to print a bumper set of World Cup specials thanks to a hugely successful crowdfunding campaign and sponsorship with a local solicitors. You can pick up copies of the World Cup edition in the History common room.
Academic departments each have a peer mentoring scheme attached to them, and History is no different. Peer mentoring is coordinated by a small team of history students, who oversee a buddy scheme that pairs second and third-year students to first-year seminar groups. Alongside organising this, mentors organise events with their groups, and with the scheme as a whole. This year our mentors held career advice sessions, essay surgeries, a housing advice session, and perhaps most popularly, a ‘Paws and Relax’ therapy dogs session! Josh the Great Dane and Millie the German Shepherd-Border Collie cross easily became everyone’s favourite colleague in their short time in the department.
And a few chances to let our hair down!
Twice a year the history community comes together to celebrate the end of each semester. In December we held our annual Christmas Party in the Samuel Alexander North Foyer. While the Christmas Party is a chance to catch up with friends and colleagues you might have missed towards the end of a busy semester, the annual Summer Party and Student Awards is highlight of the year. This is another excuse to come together as a history community, but this time we get to recognise all the hard work and creativity of our student volunteers. This year we gave out forty-one awards to thirty students in four categories. This was such a happy occasion as we celebrated some of the great work our students do in local communities and closer to home in the history department. We also had the chance to wish our finalists good luck as they completed their final lectures, seminars and essays before their exams in May and June. This year was extra special as we were joined by Katy Ashton, the Director of the People’s History Museum.
And in between all this we managed to get some research, teaching and studying done! Here’s to the end of a very good academic year.