The switch to studying and seriously considering volunteering as a vocational focus has been recent. If you didnt already know, I am currently on the second year of a 4 year program called Digital Civics CDT.

“Digital Civics is the application of technology to solve real-world problems, in areas ranging from health and social care to education and politics.” (

The program consists of a 1 year MRes (Master of Research) programme where interdisciplinary study methods and case studies are investigated, which is followed by a 3 year PhD in Digital Civics. The MRes informally considered a “trial by fire”, is thankfully over!

Back in June, I had a serendipitous meeting with Professor Matt Baillie Smith a week before my PhD proposal was due in which changed the trajectory of my PhD focus. Serving others, has been I’ve been passionate about for a while, and has been interlinked with my Christian faith. However, I had never considered that you could study volunteering academically (and to my embarrassment, I had never equated serving with volunteering before).

Meeting Matt made me rethink my PhD focus, which was previously about looking at technology in resource-constrained settings (a very vague and broad topic for a PhD!). After a couple of chats with Matt and my internal supervisor Patrick , I decided to switch topic.

Fast forward many months later, I have some ideas about what I will be working on for the first year of my PhD. I will be looking at the role of volunteering in conflict areas, based on some previous research conducted by Matt and his collaborating organisation (Red Cross). Looking forward to what comes next, exciting times!