What is the minimum level of commitment for mentors and mentees?

We don’t want to define the exact parameters of your partnership as we recognise everyone has different capacities and time commitments. With that being said, we would want you to meet minimally once a term, and collaborate on at least one project together which can take any form – from a podcast to a paper or edited collection, or even a reflective blogpost on your experience of mentorship. We’d strongly encourage both mentors and mentees to have an open and transparent conversation, to work out a style that suits both parties. If you have particular needs with regards to the kind of support or discussions and creative output, please indicate this in your application form. 

How will mentors and mentees be paired?

To the best of our ability, we will take into consideration academic discipline, alongside any specific needs and interests, as well as preferred creative modes of collaboration that mentees might flag up on their application forms. However, the precise matching will largely depend on the pool of mentors who apply and their expertise. If you know someone who would make a good mentor, do signpost them to this scheme. 

If you are not selected for this scheme, please know that it is not necessarily because of any lack on your part! We strongly believe in making suitable matches, and sometimes, it just might not be possible to find the best fit and we’d much rather not cause any potential disillusionment or distress because of unsuitable pairings. We do still strongly encourage you to get involved in Network activities or content creation/collaboration. Hopefully as the Network grows, so will our mentor pool, and we might be able to find you a good fit in the near future!

Since many neurodivergent people struggle with face-to-face communication (including video calls), is there a place for Neurodivergent Humanities Network members to communicate their ideas and make connections through text-based servers, such as Discord or similar?

Currently, we do not operate an online ‘social space’, because our small funding grant means that we cannot recruit admins to monitor the space and ensure it is safe and accessible. This *may* change as the Neurodivergent Humanities Network grows and we manage to secure more funding. In the meantime, we have a Twitter page (@NdHums) which might help members discover and connect with each other. Members are also encouraged to independently set up their own Discord channels where they can talk about and brainstorm ideas for the Network (although this would not be monitored by our admins or ‘officially’ affiliated with the Network). Do also watch this our website’s event space to keep up with the online roundtable events we will be hosting; we really do encourage you to make connections independently with researchers you e-meet through these events.

I think navigation, professionalisation and decision making can be particularly tricky in current academia. Could we contribute to and co-organize a workshop on Neurodivergent methods – multi sensory, creative, etc? 

While this is not our current focus, it may be something we can do in the future, depending on time commitments, funding, etc. We are eager to take the Network in new directions, and for members to have a central role in facilitating this (that is, we as admins do not want to be making all the decisions!). We will be hosting regular roundtable sessions to discuss these things further, so watch this space! If you are interested in proposing an event in partnership with the network, please contact us via our email and we’d be excited to discuss it further with you. 

While the network is at early stages and also broadly focused on the Academy and the ripple effects outward, there was some mentions of cross-collaboration outside the Academy. 

We believe that collaborating with individuals and groups outside the Academy is important, and we are keen to reach out to neurodiversity advocates across all sectors. However, there are still conversations to be had about how this might be achieved, which will occur once the Network is more established. 

We are interested in and open to considering broader implications and impacts of what it means to be someone occupying multiple marginalities, working within and outside the Academy. We will be considering potential community and grassroots-level collaborations in the future, once the Network becomes more established. 

Since you mentioned that this network isn’t only meant for those researching neurodivergence but also for neurodivergent ECRs, would mentors be able to also provide guidance regarding disclosure or discuss together how to navigate the challenges of academia to avoid burnout?

Because the Mentorship Scheme hasn’t taken off yet, it’s difficult to know at this stage what sort of approaches mentors and mentees will be taking, but we very much encourage applications from mentors who are keen on giving such guidance.

Disclosure is a complex – and personal – issue, and we will be sourcing resources and advice on different ways to navigate these questions; we will share these in our Resource Hub on this website (in development) so that mentors and mentees can determine the best course for them. If a potential mentee is particularly keen to engage with issues of disclosure, do signpost this in your application so that we can consider it when pairing you with a mentor best-positioned to meet those needs.

Similarly, we recognise that burnout is a particularly significant issue that needs to be discussed, with care structures put in place; do signal in your form if you would like support with this. 

Could you tell me if any support might be available for neurodivergent mentors, who may themselves also be precariously situated in academia? 

We recognise that it isn’t as simple as to presume that mentees are precariously positioned and mentors are not – there are definitely situational nuances that must be recognised. Because this is a fledgling network and we have funding constraints, we aren’t yet sure about how much specialist support we can offer. However, what we can do to support both mentors and mentees is an ongoing discussion, and part of this is looking into programmes, organisations, and schemes that might provide guidance, training, and support. We are also building a Resource Hub which we hope will contain useful links, articles, books, etc. for neurodivergent people working in the academy and beyond.

Down the line, do you think there could be opportunities to apply for grant funding to support research assistant roles for neurodivergent researchers looking to establish themselves in HE?

We currently do not have the internal financial resources to offer any grant funding; however, we will keep an active eye out for potential calls for funding, and circulate this information through our mailing lists when we come across them, so do sign up for these resources! 

From experience peer-to-peer support can be as important as mentorship. Some ECR would also benefit from talking to same-stage peers and mutuals so may I entice you please to consider this approach eventually, time permitting.

We would definitely encourage you to make connections with same-stage peers you meet through our Network’s activities. We are not currently offering any formal structures to facilitate these partnerships, so do reach out to like-minded peers independently if you’d prefer that form of support.