Sooriaprakash D, Research Scholar in the Center for Study in Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy at the University of Hyderabad shares his experiences from a summer school at University of Bergen
My joy knew no bounds when I was invited by Norway, one of the Scandinavian countries to participate in the Bergen summer research school (BSRS) 2014 at the University of Bergen. Bergen is the second largest city in Norway and the core theme for the ten day school was ‘Governance to Meet Global Challenges’. Under this, five sub-themes were selected to allow a better understanding of the role of governance. The BSRS 2014 adopts an interdisciplinary approach, gathering an international group of research students to explore the complex challenges from different disciplines. This year’s school which has been held from June 23 to July 04, 2014 saw PhD scholars from 77 countries including India which sent seven scholars and I was fortunate to be one among them.
I was selected for the plenary course of ‘Studying Global Governance from Above and Below: Multilateral organisations, collective action and the politics of development in the global south’. The ambition of the course is to provide doctoral students from across the social sciences with a space to critically discuss various ways of approaching the study of global governance with reference to wider debates on how the complex dialectics of power and resistance shape the politics of development in the global South. The course divided into two subsections, corresponding to the overall “from above/”from below”-heuristic that structures the course: (i) global governance and multilateral organizations and (ii) global governance and collective action.
The whole programme was conducted in Dragefjellet, which is home to the Law Faculty, University of Bergen Global. The BSRS is organized by UiB Global, a special unit reporting directly to the Rector. UiB Global is responsible for initiating and coordinating multi-and cross disciplinary research and related activities within the University’s priority area on global and development related research.
We had the opportunity to listen to lectures from Prof. Thorvald Gran, Dept. of Administration and Organisation Theory, UiB, Jepp Kolding, Associate Professor, Department of Biology, UiB, Hans Geir Aasmundsen Researcher, UiB Global, and Etienne Nel CROP and University of Otago, New Zeland. Other guest lecturers include Srila Roy, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa and Adam Branch Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, San Diego State University / Makerere Institute of Social Research, Uganda. In the intense ten-day program, each PhD student has been assigned to a research group matching his/her intellectual interests. In these groups, the student takes part in every aspect of the group’s scientific work and social activities, and shared their PhD research work under the supervision of experienced faculty in University of Bergen. Students spend a majority of their time learning research techniques in the plenary sessions of courses apt for थेइर research work including attending keynote lectures twice a day and interacting with other course students of BSRS summer school.
After the inaugural session, the first week opened with keynote lecture ‘The role of Governance in the Transition towards Sustainable Food Systems’ which provoked all the participants to think about global governance and understand the politics of it. In the first week we were exposed to understanding the scientific challenges of multilateral organisations and collective action to study Global Governance Above. My interaction with nine scholars from Africa, Europe and South America on their research work enriched me further to have thoughtful discussions in the summer school. First week Course leader was Tor Halvorsen and in second week Alf Gunvald Nilsen led the course.
My PhD work related to second week title of Global Governance Below. Remaining four scholars from India so the whole week to focused to understand the Indian society. I was the first scholar to present PhD work and it gave me pride as an Indian and from University of Hyderabad to share my research work with various international scholars. I was fortunate to have received some wonderful suggestions to elevate my research work from my course lecturers and participants. The knowledge which I gained from BSRS will definitely help me to carryout research on an International level. Another challenging aspect was that all the participants of BSRS 2014 had to write an essay about how this course was relevant to our research work and this assignment gives credits to each participant.
I can certainly say that the summer school not only helped me gain knowledge in the specific areas of research, but also helped me understand various perspectives from my interaction with other participants. I have made some good friends, and in the interactions with them have also taken me two steps closer to academia, which is my passion.
Sooria can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org