A great place to escape to eat cake

January 19, 2007

Name : Jill Raggett.

Age : Old enough to know better.

J ob : Reader in gardens and designed landscapes at Writtle College in Essex. I teach students on undergraduate programmes in horticulture and landscape and garden design. I co-manage the Centre for the Arts and Design in the Environment, which works within the college and with external organisations to foster interdisciplinary collaborations. I also try to research my specialism: the origins of the Japanese-style garden in the British Isles.

Training/education : I was a student gardener who undertook a full-time horticultural qualification and then moved into lecturing, gaining a teaching qualification and masters in education before doing my PhD.

Working hours : I'm surrounded by my subject matter and rarely switch off from gathering resources.

Number of students you teach : I teach on modules with 40 to 80 students and run one-to-one tutorials with those researching dissertations or assignments.

Biggest challenge and how you solved it : Helping first-year undergraduates realise that referencing is a necessary skill. They get the message after I've marked their first assignment.

Worst moment in university life : I once had very bad jet lag and fell asleep in my own lecture. The students, who were watching a video and using a worksheet, woke me only after they finished the programme and had a coffee break.

What is your office like? It is covered with visual imagery that I've collected over the years, especially as I'm interested in environmental art. My window has a view of a hardy palm tree in a courtyard garden, which is great for stress relief.

What university facilities do you use? We have a great campus at Writtle so I often go for a walk to enjoy the fresh air, and we also have a tea shop, which is a great place to escape with some marking and eat cake.

Do you socialise with people at the university? Luckily, many of my colleagues are also my friends or I'd never see them. Some of my students have become lifelong friends.

Who are the most difficult people you deal with and how do you cope with them? Outside organisations and individuals who feel that I should be able to supply them with free student labour and consultancy.

Do you interact much with other universities? I'm adjunct professor at the Nova Scotia College of Agriculture, and I recently returned from teaching at Lepaa College in Finland.

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