VOICE: On academic well-being - from knowledge users to knowledge producers
The curtain fell on the “Decentring Epistemologies for Global Well-Being” project, EUniWell’s first Virtual Online International Collaborative Exchange (VOICE). Six coordinators and six facilitators from the University of Birmingham, the University of Cologne and Leiden University in Europe, Mohammed V University in Rabat, the University of Nairobi and the University of Western Cape in Africa, partook in this pilot programme with more than sixty master and doctoral students . The joint effort and collaboration of the participants, their passion and willingness to critically explore their surroundings through flash ethnographies, and to collectively share and discuss their findings, enabled a cross-continental and interdisciplinary exchange. The results of this committed participation in this extra-curricular activity can be reviewed in detail in individual and collective blog posts published on the website of the University of Birmingham.
As Professor Martin Zillinger, one of the coordinators from the University of Cologne, pointed out, “the project invites us to question established ways of knowing, and to make academic cooperation work, in order to strive for different forms of knowledge.” The concept of well-being has been questioned from different perspectives and throughout three different themes: environment, intersectionality and knowledge. The VOICE methodology proved effective in its most significant aims, enabling participants to shift their position from knowledge users to knowledge producers by collaboratively and critically decentring knowledge production. Interestingly, the project itself promoted “academic well-being”.
The VOICE project and methodology stand as an innovative and important lesson on the future of global higher education. The goal now is to develop it into the future, perhaps with curricular activities organised throughout different universities around the world, with the intersection of multiple disciplines and participants from different academic levels. As significant relationships have been woven between participants and partner universities, we look forward to the future and further collaborations.
Coordinators and teaching fellows especially thank the students and the entire EUniWell team who made this project possible.
More details about the project and the blog from the participants can be found here.
If you would like to know more or are interested in repeating the pilot program, please contact:
- Prof. Dr. Marleen Dekker, African Studies Centre, Leiden University
- Prof. Dr. Martin Zillinger, Department of Cultural and Social Anthropology, University of Cologne
- Prof. Dr. Francis Pope, Chair of Atmospheric Science, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sicences, University of Birmingham
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