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The Power of Collaborations

Blog Post – July 30, 2018

By Dr. Taine Duncan

Contrary to popular belief, as a professor, my summer is not full of free time and vacation. It is still a time where I must work on research, usually teach a few extra courses to help student scheduling, and a time for professional development. However, it is also a time where I must be especially mindful to challenge myself to develop a productive and re-energizing routine. And in working out those routines over the years, I’ve discovered a few things.

First, I’ve realized that I do better staying on track with research and feeling productive when I create networks for accountability. In the past, I’ve done women’s research groups, had a specific writing partner, or enrolled in development programs with their own schedules. This helps me, as well, to better carve out space for the summer scheduling of family commitments.
Second, I’ve found that even when I do schedule productive space, I often struggle to break the monotony of routine. If I get into the rut of routine, my work and growth stagnate.
Finally, I’ve identified that I work best when I not only push myself but when I collaborate with others.

I suspect that this struggle to get through the doldrums of summer—to balance productivity and rejuvenation—is not unique to being a professor. I’d bet that many women feel the worry of midyear doldrums—whether because of the fiscal year end, or because kids are suddenly on new schedules, or because it is a time for reflection.

These midyear doldrums are like a little microcosm of mid-career/mid-path doldrums. There are points in our lives and choices where we reflect and realize that we must make a choice to actively push ourselves, to get out of rutted routines or unproductive loops. And, I suspect, that just like my mid-summer malaise is helped when I collaborate with others and we push each other to grow, so, too, might our mid-path doldrums benefit from collaboration.

The Women’s Leadership Network has certainly benefited from collaboration. Just recently, WLN merged with Women In Networking to create one of the largest women’s networks in central Arkansas. The benefit of this collaboration is diversity in ideas, careers and life experiences. All the things that make WLN such a rich and fortifying group.

Dr. Taine Duncan
Associate Professor and Director of Gender Studies
WLN Founding Committee Member
University of Central Arkansas