Sara Templer

Where are you from?

I grew up in Zimbabwe.

What year did you complete your degree?

I’m scheduled to submit my thesis by September 2011.

What degree pathway are you studying at Queen’s?

PhD Anthropology

Why did you choose to study Anthropology at Queen’s?

Prior to enrolling at QUB, I worked for a couple of years as a freelance researcher in the community sector in Northern Ireland.  Over that time I was struck by the involvement of Queen’s academics in local and international social research.  In particular, I was drawn to the Institute of Irish Studies as a place where I could study conflict and transition alongside academics who have a deep knowledge of the local context, and who contribute not only to academic discussions and journals, but also to policy development and evaluation.

What do you particularly enjoy about studying this subject at Queen’s?

I am interested in post-conflict recovery, and in particular the ways in which victims of political violence participate in and shape (or are excluded from) conversations around political and social transition in different contexts.  Queen’s is an ideal environment for this research both in terms of its location in Northern Ireland, and in the broader context of the university’s relationship with other conflict resolution, reconciliation and transitional justice-oriented departments in Ireland, Great Britain and beyond.  A key highlight for me has been the opportunity to visit Georgetown University with my supervisor and a fellow PhD student: in February 2009 we together obtained an award that paid for us to travel to Washington DC and to deliver a number of seminars as part of the Conflict Resolution MA programme at Georgetown’s Department of Government.

What about studying at Queen’s in general?

Whether you are a local or international student, Queen’s is a great place to study.  With world-class academics on campus, the availability of free postgraduate training skills courses on a variety of themes, and excellent postgraduate facilities, the university provides an enabling and supportive research environment.  The campus is located close to the city centre and is easily accessible.  The city is in a phase of vibrant regeneration, and investment in arts and culture means that Belfast’s social calendar gets more interesting every year with film festivals, a range of music and comedy gigs at venues not far from campus, and local and international food and craft markets.  Queen’s sports facilities are also outstanding – I’m not a sporty person, but love using the gym and pool on a (more or less) regular basis!

What are you planning to do in the future? What career would you like to pursue?

I am planning on pursuing a career in policy development in local and international contexts of post-conflict transition.  A friend of mine once described a colleague of theirs as ‘a genuine public academic’; this is the sort of achievement I aspire to.  My goal is to carry out social research that can have an application in a developmental environment, whether in the context of an NGO or within government bodies.

Would you recommend studying at Queen’s to other students? What advice would you give them?

I would certainly recommend studying at Queen’s.  In terms of advice to prospective students: I am grateful that people here have encouraged me to get to know academics, other professionals and research students at Queen’s and in Belfast generally.  Although ‘networking’ is one of those buzz words I sort of baulk at, it is vitally important – and really good fun – to take advantage of every opportunity you get to meet interesting and active people in the research and work environment.