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The 2021 Royster Global Conference was on the topic “Tenacity in Turbulent Times.” With this topic, this year’s virtual conference provided a forum for doctoral students from around the world to reflect on the multiple crises of recent years in the context of academic instruction and research, identified strategies for coping with and overcoming these challenges, and proposed a research and policy agenda for ensuring that our respective institutions provide the resources and care necessary for the success and wellness of every student and local community.

Since late 2019, the Covid-19 pandemic and associated measures taken to control the virus, as well as economic recession, racial tensions and violence against minorities, political turmoil, and extreme weather events, have disrupted the personal and professional lives of doctoral students globally. These overlapping crises have also laid bare systemic problems and inequities inherent to current academic, scientific, and governmental institutions. There is growing evidence that doctoral students, especially those from historically underrepresented groups, have been adversely affected by these changes. Yet, many doctoral students have demonstrated considerable tenacity when responding to these diverse challenges.

As researchers, teachers, and community members, doctoral students continue to extend knowledge and provide invaluable services to their departments and institutions. They have also been instrumental in researching, developing, and advocating for new models, methods, and standards of practice for promoting equity and well-being worldwide. The conference invited reflections on crises, sharing strategies, and working towards building institutional responses. Participants learned and used the PhotoVoice research method throughout the conference to promote collaborative reflection, sharing, and skill-building.

We invite you to view a gallery of photos taken and shared during the conference.

The goals of this conference included:

  • Building long-lasting relationships and international, interdisciplinary networks among doctoral students
  • Providing a forum for doctoral students to reflect on experiences and share their strategies
  • Creating opportunities for collectively formulating starting points and across institutional and national borders
  • Training participants in the Photovoice method

2021 Conference Participants


In accordance with these priorities, the virtual conference featured a series of short lectures, workshops, and skill- and community-building activities spread over four Fridays during June 2021.

Week 1 (June 4, 2021) – Past Crises and Their Ongoing Aftershocks

Weeks 2 (June 11, 2021) & 3 (June 18, 2021) – Present Strategies and Solutions

Week 4 (June 25, 2021) – Future Directions for More Equitable Institutions