New anthem for 150th anniversary of Trinity College Melbourne performed

I was in close-contact isolation, so joined the event via the livestream. Our new ‘Covid normal’ continues to be a strange time!

A new commission for the 150th anniversary of Trinity College, the oldest residential college in Australia, and where I have been tutor, Head of Academic Programs, SCR President, Council member, honorary Faculty and continue to be on the Academic Committee of the Theological School.

The words for the new anthem ‘O lux beata Trinitas’ weave together a Latin hymn by St Ambrose with newly written poetry by me, set to music by Michael Leighton Jones (former Director of Music and frequent collaborator). Performed by the Choir of Trinity College and conducted by Christopher Watson.

The work starts about 30-ish minutes into the video.

An honour to be involved, and thankful for modern technology!

Thinking about quitting your PhD? published in Times Higher Education

Somewhere between 25–50% of candidates don’t complete their PhD. Sometimes not completing a PhD is the rational choice, and having open conversations around it helps stop people feeling isolated and uncertain, I argued in a recent article for the THE.

Supervisors, candidates and universities need to be more open to having conversations about quitting. Why do candidates choose to quit, how many people do so and what happens to them afterwards? It’s almost impossible to get detailed, accurate data about completion rates. People who quit leave the university and, therefore, we often don’t see what they do next. If we don’t talk openly about stopping, people who are considering it feel isolated and uncertain. But it isn’t rare, and supervisors are in a privileged position to recognise the signs early – and then, as appropriate, support their candidates as they successfully navigate away from the PhD.    

Read more at: Thinking about quitting your PhD? Maybe that’s the right decision

New hymn to commemorate the 175th anniversaries of the Anglican and Catholic Archdioceses of Melbourne

On 6 March, the choir and congregation of St Paul’s Cathedral Melbourne premiered a new joint commission to commemorate the founding of both the Anglican and Catholic archdioceses of Melbourne. ‘Come Down to Earth’ is a six verse hymn, suitable for congregational use, with music by noted composer Christopher Wilcox SJ and words by Katherine Firth.

(L-R) Christopher Wilcocks SJ (composer), Dr Katherine Firth (lyricist),
The Very Revd Dr Andreas Loewe (Dean of Melbourne), Mr Philip Nicholls (Director of Music)

Research Degree Insiders featured on .blog

.blog is part of Automattic, the parent company of WordPress.com and Jetpack, supporting the .blog domain, so it was an absolute delight to see that Research Degree Insiders was their featured site this week, with advice about finding your niche audience, offering variety while staying on topic, and sharing from both your expertise and personal experience.

Back in 2014, the post ‘Sounds and Silence and Headspace‘ was featured on ‘Freshly Pressed’ (now Discover WordPress). I look back at that post, seven years ago, and am surprised at how similar that post is to my most recent work (for example ‘Are you “inspired” or are you just breathing?‘). I’ve been blogging for nearly 9 years now, and I’ve found it a wonderful way to connect to readers, and to explore and draft in public towards what has now been published in my various books.

If you’d like to see what they said, you can read the feature article here.

New book published, Journeying with Bonhoeffer

A new book on the martyr, double agent, theologian and inspirational church leader, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, has just been published with Morning Star Press.

Bohoeffer authors B&W
Katherine Firth and Andreas Loewe hold their new book. 

Co-authored with the Dean of Melbourne, this book has a new accessible biography of Bonhoeffer, new translations of his poems, close readings from the Bible and The Cost of Discipleship, reflections, prayers and questions for individual or group study.

Bonhoeffer wrote The Cost of Discipleship while leading an ‘underground’ seminary, in hiding from the Nazi government and the church leaders who supported Hitler.

The work is both timeless and timely. Next year, it will be 75 years since Bonhoeffer was executed in a concentration camp, and 75 years since the end of World War II. At the same time, people around the world are working against current oppression and exclusion.

A book launch will be held at St Paul’s Cathedral Melbourne on 24 November, followed by events in Sydney and other cities.

The book is available in paperback direct from the publisher, or most large online bookstores (including Amazon AU, Amazon UK, and Book Depository). Allow up to three weeks for books to be delivered (though our copies came through in 3 days!).

Australian book launch of How to Fix your Academic Writing Trouble

The authors.JPG

Katherine Firth, Inger Mewburn, and Shaun Lehmann, in Canberra. 

It was a delight to visit Canberra during the first week in November for a book event celebrating our book How to Fix Your Academic Writing Trouble. The event was held at Harry Hartog’s bookshop at the Australian National University campus, and it was a wonderful chance to meet readers and for potential readers to meet us.

I wrote about the launch over on my blog Research Degree Insiders

For more information about the book, including how to purchase it.

‘Should a PhD be hard?’ published in Times Higher Education

The Times Higher Education (THE) recently republished a post first published on my blog, Research Degree Insiders.

In the post, I say:

If you are finding the PhD hard, that’s okay. If you are being bullied or are getting sick because of the PhD, that’s not okay. Find a way to make the PhD hard like climbing a mountain, not hard like being hit with a stick.

Nearly 7,000 people have read the original post, and I’ve received many comments from students who found it helpful. I hope the THE version reaches, and helps, even more people!

Captivity and freedom in the work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, invited talk

On 6 April, I will be giving a talk to the St James’ Insititute, Sydney, on ‘Captivity and Freedom in the Writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’ before the Choir of St James’ King Street, directed by Warren Trevelyan-Jones gives a performance of Philip Moore’s ‘Three Prayers of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’.

Tickets to the talk are still available.

Here’s what I’ll be talking about:

‘Restless, yearning, sick, like a bird in a cage… hungry for colours, for life, for birdsong’.
From ‘Who Am I?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer is a theologian for our times: an intellectual who worked across barriers of race, denomination and language. For his role in heading an underground seminary, and his work with the resistance against the Nazi regime, he was imprisoned, interned in concentration camps and executed. Bonhoeffer’s writings invite us to ask about what captivity really means, and what it is to have freedom.

And here is a recording of Morning Prayer to whet the appetite:

Academic Writing Trouble published

Academic Writing Trouble: Why it happens and how to fix it, Inger Mewburn, Katherine Firth and Sean Lehmann (London: Open University Press, 2019) is now published.

Read more about it here, including links to purchase the book.

If you subscribe to The Australian newspaper, you can read the interview with Inger Mewburn by Erica Cervini ‘Collaborative Guide to Clarity of Expression