“More than Research”: A Review of a Commitment to Interdisciplinary Study

INTERCULTURAL DYNAMICS - Jun 26, 2015

"More than Research" was the title of an open session of the Forum of Young Researchers in Intercultural Dynamics, which was held on June 18 at CIDOB. The Forum was for professors and young researchers to think and discuss about research done so far in this space and to discuss how to continue in the future. 

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"More than Research" was the title of an open session of the Forum of Young Researchers in Intercultural Dynamics, which was held on June 18 at CIDOB. The Forum was for professors and young researchers to think and discuss about research done so far in this space and to discuss how to continue in the future. The Forum began over 10 years ago as a discussion space open to doctoral students interested in participating in an environment where they could discuss their doubts, exchange information and share concerns. Over time, this space became the Forum for Research - Transformation (ForIT), highlighting its interdisciplinary and transnational dimensions. In the Forum, young researchers are able to propose work and ideas that reflect concerns that may be outside of their specific thesis or research specificities.

 The dissertation In Transit: Voices, Actions and Reactions was also presented as part of the session "More than Research." This effort was a result of the research done by participants of the 2013-2015 Forum, through a process of exchange of ideas, concerns and experiences among a group of young and predoctoral researchers. The researchers came from a diverse range of academic backgrounds including social communication, economics, anthropology, sociology and political science. The articles in this dissertation have a common element: they describe experiences or realities that could be defined as "in transit”. People who embody these realities encounter and coexist with systems of power –forms of domination, categorizations of gender, age, religion or ethnicity–. They move through these power constructions and look, in a somewhat conscious manner, for spaces where there is room for an own existence, triggering mechanisms that allow to develop multiple identities and belongings.

In the debate held during the session between faculty, students, and interested participants, the participatory and self-managed character of the Forum was highlighted. Learnings derived from the participation in the Forum were also stressed, for instance in what refers to teamwork, a useful skill for academic and professional life. Participants also noted how the Forum served as a space for student empowerment. Student researchers were able to reinforce their work by having a different follow-up on their theses and research topics outside of the sphere of academia. In this sense, the Forum entails a break from the strict academic, and European, context, given that the group was composed of participants from diverse disciplines and diverse origins. Two characteristics distinguish the Forum from university spaces and both have to do with the fact that the Forum is held in a think tank: on the one hand, it enables discussion across disciplines; on the other hand, the practices and experiences of cross-cultural interactions have to be taken into account and analyzed in order to better understand intercultural dynamics. 

 There were also proposals for consolidating the space without losing its spontaneity. For example, some of these proposals focused on ways to articulate collaboration with universities, as well as linking the Forum with other research spaces outside the university. In addition, the Forum discussed ways to open the conversation to areas outside of the social sciences and humanities, and to people who may not be postdoctoral researchers, research participants, or necessarily linked to doctoral research. Finally, the promotion of the Forum through the network of former members who have returned to their countries and universities was discussed, as well as the possibility of organizing joint activities, co-editing publications, and replicating the space in other countries. The transnational nature of the Forum is one of its strengths. Evidence of this was the fact that members and former members of the Forum took part in the event virtually, from places as diverse as Medellin, Brighton, Berlin, Yucatán and Ciudad Juárez, demonstrating the geographic scope that the Forum could achieve. To close the session, Jordi Bacaria, the director of CIDOB, spoke of the desire to continue the Forum as a project to foster research. The Forum ended with the discussion continuing in a more casual atmosphere, accompanied by aperitifs on the terrace. CIDOB is now working to gather the different ideas that emerged at the session and to find the best way to continue the Forum in future years.

 

 

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