Craig Jones

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Craig won 1st place and People's Choice at the UBC Three Minute Thesis competition in 2016.

 
The War Lawyers
Faculty of Arts
Derek John Gregory
Shrewsbury
United Kingdom
 

Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I just loved studying - reading, writing, messing around with words and ideas - and still do, so I felt I had to pursue further study. Being able to learn is a gift (my mum never went to school; she stayed at home to look after her family) and further education opens so many doors. I was kicked out of high school and prevented from going to my high-school graduation - probably my own fault - so I also felt like I had to make amends with my failings but also prove wrong those people from my small town who told me for years that I would "amount to nothing". I learnt then that words are performative - they have worldly effects - but I couldn't let their words trap me as they had so many others and a graduate degree was my ticket out. I never looked back and now I'm in the lucky position to inspire others to go further in education, though of course it's not for everyone...

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

One day in 2007 I picked up a book and read it back-to-back, something that undergraduates rarely do. It was written by an amazing man who, at the time, I had never heard of. The book was called The Colonial Present and the author was the one and only Derek Gregory. As soon as I put the book down I made it my mission to study with him. He happened to be tenured at UBC and for a long time I had wanted to go to Vancouver so it was a match made in heaven. It remains one of the best decisions I have ever made, not only from a professional standpoint but from a personal one too. A scholarship from UBC sweetened the deal and made the whole thing possible: the rest is history.

Blogging is a good idea and you'd be surprised at how many people from all around the world end up being interested in your work.

What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?

It's one of the best Geography departments in the world but one person in particular brought me to UBC Geography: Derek Gregory.

What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?

It's less expensive than San Francisco, but more expensive than just about everywhere else.

What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?

Conducting research for the PhD is fascinating and is totally what you make of it. The real world is full of surprises that don't conform to our theories and its nice to be wrong about things that we thought we knew about. What makes me most curious though is what readers will make of my book, The War Lawyers (currently under construction).

What do you see as your biggest challenge(s) in your future career?

Getting a tenure track job won't be easy...

How do you feel your program is preparing you for those challenges?

A PhD is what you make of it and while this is an embarrassingly liberal reading I do believe that it is up to the individual to make the most of the PhD, be that learning a language, publishing, conferencing or whatever. Your supervisor and the institute can help, but it is the long and solitary hours that will produce the good work that is necessary to academic life.

What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?

Hard work, extreme focus, exercise and coffee but most importantly a supportive family, the best friends one could wish for and a remarkable loving partner. It is the things we take for granted and not the 'big achievements' that matter most.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

I cycle uphill as fast as possible. It puts the PhD into perspective and being deprived of oxygen reminds me that both the mind and body have limits that are neither objective or fixed.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

Publish. The thesis and the dissertation matter far less than publications: it's the latter that will get you a job and besides, hardly anybody reads the thesis/dissertation. And while we're on the subject of publishing: publish things that people will read, don't be pretentious and try to sound smart. Blogging is a good idea and you'd be surprised at how many people from all around the world end up being interested in your work - far more than will ever be interested in those journal articles or your dissertation...