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ISTR Mentoring Program


ISTR is an organization known for friendliness and collegiality – which we hope will be enhanced by our mentoring/hosting program.  The Society has begun a one year pilot program –that runs between June 2016 with the Stockholm conference and continues until June 2017. The objective is to assist students with professional development and engagement. 

How it works:


Mid-career or senior scholars, as well as professionals from outside the academy.


Graduate students at any stage of their careers or post-graduates and junior faculty within five years of receipt of their terminal graduate degree (including PhD, MA, and JD).


•Mentors and mentees are matched by ISTR’s executive director.

•This one-year mentoring relationship is intended for June 2016 to June 2017 and will include the annual conference in June 2016, if both mentor and mentee attend this meeting.

•Participants are encouraged, but not required, to meet once in person at the ISTR International conference.

•Communications may take place as often as once a month, either electronically or in-person. At a minimum communications will include 3-4 conversations over the course of a year and will include an exchange of experiences and career advice.

•While reading of dissertation chapters or grant proposals is helpful to every junior scholar, this program defers that labor to the mentee’s local networks. No commitment to reading is required of the mentor in ISTR’s mentoring program.

•Instead, mentoring conversations will focus on career advice, professional advancement, and facilitating contacts.

Note: ISTR is grateful to the American Society for Environmental History for providing a template for this program.



Mentoring Pilot Program

Getting off to a great start in Stockholm was the ISTR pilot mentoring program with 59 pairs of mentees and mentors matched.  They were encouraged to meet during the conference and we are delighted that so many took this opportunity to begin the conversation.  We are pleased to share some comments from those joining the pilot.

"I was immediately drawn to the mentorship program offered by ISTR because, well, who couldn’t use a bit of guidance and support? I was looking to connect with a researcher who was advanced in her or his field who could impart some of their knowledge and experience. I am a first year PhD student at the University of Ottawa in Canada, so quite early in my academic research, and was eager to learn from senior researchers. I was delighted to be matched with Jackie Butcher, who already from our first email exchanges was encouraging and supportive. We met at the ISTR reception on the first evening of the conference, and I knew that I had lucked out! Between introducing me to what seemed like half the room, Jackie imparted some excellent advice and wisdom about how to approach my PhD, how to hone in on a topic, and how to navigate life as a social science researcher in general. It was great getting to know more about her and her research on volunteering in Mexico, and I couldn’t wait to go home and watch her TEDx talk. We have kept in touch and I look forward to having Jackie in my network of professional support network."
Jessica Cadesky, Canada (mentee)


“Being paired with Danielle was a pleasant surprise as I had already organised a month at Queens as part of my Research and Study Leave. It meant Danielle and I had time to catch up following our meeting at ISTR and to discuss some matters about her career progression. Also, as part of my month’s visit it was planned that she and I were to be involved in a joint paper along with one or two others. In the event Danielle and I are the two collaborators and I think we have a very nice project that is relevant, comparative and may well turn into 2-3 papers with a funded component. While researching and writing together is not the main idea behind mentoring, it was almost inevitable in this situation. It means I need to be even more mindful of the need to partner, to ensure it does not harm our other conversations. Danielle is of course a lovely young woman with a real passion for the sector and it is a pleasure to have this extra connection.”

Carolyn Cordery, New Zealand (mentor)


“I was really hoping to get to know someone in the ISTR community better, and hopefully to have a few good conversations around publication and funding strategies that are front-of-mind for me at the moment. In actual fact, Carolyn and I have been able to have those conversations and more, talking about everything from career development to work-life balance. I’ve really valued her advice, which came at a good stage for me. As an added bonus, the more we talked - and we had the luxury that that was often over coffee and a treat in the mid-afternoon - the more we saw the potential to develop an interesting project together based on our common interests. I would whole-heartedly recommend the program to anyone thinking of getting involved next time.”
Danielle McConville, N. Ireland (mentee)


"I met Musiwaro Ndakaripa (South Africa) at the Stockholm conference and agreed to mentor his dissertation.  The subject is the role of civil society in Zimbabwe on the government's economic indigenization policies. My husband, Ed and I had dinner with Musiwaro and we are both very pleased to be part of this mentoring program.

I am not an online editor, but we seem to be working things out.  I can provide him with some global background, particularly on the sequence of development- from Latin America and Asia, to Eastern Europe and Russia, to Africa.  Although civil society in Africa began to emerge earlier than the 1990s, it developed more slowly than in Asia and Latin America.  I find that my two earlier books are more relevant to what he is doing than my more recent one on democratization NGOs.

Most of us in the developed world think of the indigenization policy in Zimbabwe as synonymous with land seizures.  But he is not writing about that- he is writing about the role of what he calls "business civil society" in interacting with the government over promotion of black businesses, etc.   I think his work is directly relevant to discussions within the field about whether "markets" should be included in civil society.

We have begun working together despite the challenges of long-distance editing.   He is a good writer, so my role is mainly watching out for hidden insights --,sometimes observing that "less is more," and suggesting additional readings.  

I think this is an exciting new program for ISTR, which supports young scholars and will help insure the quality of new research on civil society and the third sector."

Julie Fisher Melton, USA (mentor)


"This is a wonderful idea.  One of the issues in a multidisciplinary field is that there are a small number of specialists in any given department and that severely limits the amount of knowledge that can be passed on to the next generation of scholars.  By creating this network, you open the access that young scholars have to a world of expertise.  I’ve learned a lot in my 30+ years in the field.  I know a lot of the people involved and where to go for expertise.  While I pass this on to my own students, it would be a shame if that was as far as it went.  Through this program I am able to pass on what I know to others.  I had a very interesting conversation with my mentee.  I learned a lot from it."

John McNutt, USA (mentor)



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