The First World War Network (FWWNetwork) is an exciting new initiative which launched in March 2017 as a supportive and responsive network designed to help early career (ECR) and postgraduate (PGR) researchers working on any aspect of the First World War. It also seeks to establish partnerships with non-academic organisations and community groups, providing a link to the research expertise of ECRs and PGRs in order to facilitate and support co-designed and co-produced research projects. The initiative is supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and will work in partnership with the five First World War Public Engagement Centres. Over the next three years the network will: provide its members with a platform to promote their research and related activities; create opportunities to initiate research collaborations; design and deliver bespoke training tailored to ECR/PGR identified needs (the first of a series of workshops is being planned for July 2017); support ECR & PGR led activities and initiatives; and link members to funding and practical supports to undertake research projects (especially projects in collaboration with non-academic partners).
With such goals in mind, I introduce the FWWNetwork to members of the Western Front Association for a number of important reasons.
First, with an invitation to join. Many members of the WFA undertake postgraduate study as part of their interests in the First World War (either at Masters or Doctoral level). If you are, or have previously been, involved in such study then you represent the network’s target membership and you would be very welcome to join. It is completely FREE and all you need to do is send a request to join to our email address (firstname.lastname@example.org). Membership will ensure you are kept up-to-date with news and events, and you will be eligible to attend our training workshops.
Second, I introduce the network with a hope of fostering an ongoing partnership of mutual benefit with the WFA. We recognise the important PGR initiatives that the WFA already provide, including the WFA PhD Scholarship Programme, and the FWWNetwork are keen to help promote, support and extend such initiatives. Moreover, the network would encourage branches or members interested in working with PGR/ECR scholars, perhaps for branch talks or to develop specific collaborative projects, to get in touch. The FWWNetwork can help link such projects to relevant scholars and, moreover, we are developing practical ways to subsequently support collaborative activities. With that in mind, we are creating an online database of our members which will be searchable based on topic interests and should enable easy identification of scholars with desired research expertise. We are also very happy to be supporting the conference ‘1918-2018: The End of the War & the Reshaping of a Century’, 6th – 8th September 2018, in collaboration with the Western Front Association and the Centre for Historical Research at the University of Wolverhampton (www.wlv.ac.uk/1918to2018). Hopefully this will be just one of a number of future collaborations with the WFA and, to such ends, I would alert you to a 2019 FWWNetwork conference on the First World War which is already under discussion and will be of interest to WFA members as both participants and attendees.
I very much hope that members of the WFA will be interested in joining and working with the FWWNetwork over the coming years. We are very excited by the initiative, which will support the next generation of academic researchers and shape the study of the First World War. We are very keen to work with organisations like the WFA to achieve this.
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Oliver Wilkinson - Postgraduate Research Fellow, University of Wolverhampton, and Steering Committee Member of the FWWNetwork