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The words "Royster Global" are written here with a globe serving as the "O" in Global.The third annual Royster Global Conference, to be held on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus, will focus on one of the most ubiquitous aspects of life: borders.

“Borders are all around us,” said Banu Gökarıksel, Royster Distinguished Professor for Graduate Education at UNC-Chapel Hill. “They are central to current debates about climate change, migration, trade wars, national identity and the spread of infectious diseases. We hope the conference will generate new and exciting ideas, questions and connections.”

The Royster Society of Fellows, an interdisciplinary fellowship program within The Graduate School, is hosting the May 28-31 event. Interim Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz; Steve Matson, dean of The Graduate School; Terry Rhodes, interim dean of the College of Arts & Sciences; and Sibby Anderson-Thompkins, director of the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, are among the featured speakers. Graduate students from UNC-Chapel Hill, King’s College London, the National University of Singapore, Universidad San Francisco de Quito and the Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen will collaborate on presentations and other activities within the four days.

“Our Royster Global Conference is bringing together more than 40 doctoral students from five research universities on four continents to reaffirm the value of borderless interdisciplinary thinking,” said Jennifer Gerz-Escandón, associate dean for interdisciplinary education and fellowship programs at The Graduate School. “Our graduate student participants represent over 25 areas of study, including art, nursing, physics, law, biology and journalism. We look forward to exploring new ways of thinking about research and new pathways for collaboration.”

Gökarıksel said the conference planning committee is made up of graduate student members of the Royster Society of Fellows, and these students selected the theme and organized the activities. “Our event aims to build community with graduate students as leaders,” she added.

As part of the conference, the public is invited to attend the screening of three films on May 30, starting at 5:30 p.m.: “The Chance to Live,” “Santuario” and “I, Destini.” The location is the Nelson Mandela Auditorium of the FedEx Global Education Center. A panel discussion will follow the films. In addition to the Royster Global Conference, the event’s sponsors include the Writing Center, International Student and Scholar Services, the Summer School and UNC Global.

Royster Global began in 2017, to increase understanding of graduate education from an international perspective. Graduate students from King’s College London visited UNC-Chapel Hill that summer, and Royster fellows visited King’s College London in the summer of 2018.

“Graduate education is an essential aspect of Carolina’s global work,” said Raymond B. Farrrow III, associate provost for global affairs and interim chief global officer. “Conferences such as this give graduate students wider networks of academic and professional peers. We’re pleased to host this meeting at the FedEx Global Education Center.”

By Deb Saine, The Graduate School

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