Anaïs holds a master’s degree in Education and Globalization from the University of Oulu. In this blog, she tells us how she got inspired by working in collaboration with UniPID, GINTL, and African academics in a project aimed to promote dialogue, discussions, co-learning and co-sharing of experiences between Finnish and African colleagues.
Hello! My name is Anaïs Georges, I am from France, and I recently completed my master's degree in Education and Globalization at the University of Oulu.
I first came to Finland when I was 17 years old as part of a student exchange program that allowed me to spend a year in Salo in the South of Finland and to study at the local “lukio”. During my bachelor’s studies in political sciences and literature, I also spent two semesters studying in Germany and in Poland. Experiencing several European education systems made me aware of the potential of intercultural exchanges and international cooperation to produce innovation in the field of education and made me want to contribute to it in the future.
My eagerness to return to Finland for my master’s studies and my interest in international cooperation in education prompted me to join the Education and Globalization master’s program at the University of Oulu. During my studies there, I found the idea of research as a practice that allows continual questioning, reflection, and exchange of diverse forms of knowledge and thoughts at an international and intercultural level particularly inspiring.
My master’s thesis topic emerged during an internship I completed with the GINTL (Global Innovation Network for Teaching and Learning) project between the University of Oulu and the University of Namibia. As part of this experience, I realized that collaboration between Global North and Global South higher education institutions opens immense possibilities to co-create new knowledge that can foster social justice and sustainability.
I also became aware of the necessity to challenge unequal North-South power relations inherited from the colonial era in order to make North-South academic partnerships meaningful, equitable, and sustainable. At a personal level, this internship experience led me to question many of the ways of being and thinking I had internalized as a white European woman and that I used to take for granted. I understood that if I want to meaningfully contribute to international collaboration in the field of education as a professional, it is my responsibility to continually question and challenge my preconceived assumptions in order to avoid contributing to perpetuating Global North dominance.
My master’s thesis “Thinking academic partnerships beyond dominant structures: an analysis of Global North and Global South partnership experts’ joint perceptions” explores the perceptions of good partnerships that were expressed by groups of Finnish and African academics and other partnership stakeholders during a workshop organized by UniPID and GINTL. In parallel with working on my thesis, I contributed to writing an article based on the same data with a team of eight Finnish and Namibian academics from the UniPID and GINTL networks. Taking part in this dialogic research process was a source of inspiration and enriched my reflection throughout my thesis writing.
One of the main conclusions of my thesis is that building a good partnership requires dedicating sufficient time and reflection to developing relationships and organizational structures that create the conditions for meaningful dialogue, mutual learning, and equitable collaboration. Consequently, this may foster sustainable and mutually beneficial impacts in the long term. This suggests a need to rethink and redefine dominant understandings and concepts of academic partnerships to better support their equitability.
The outcomes achieved during my master’s thesis encouraged me to wish to continue exploring meaningful North-South partnerships during my doctoral studies. Research attracts me not only as a job that would allow me to meaningfully contribute to the world but also as a lifestyle.
Engaging in research inspires me to redefine the way I live and think, to be more critical of what I read and see, and to always remain open to alternative perspectives.
Walking in nature, dancing, reading, going to the theater, and watching movies are some of the activities I like to practice in my free time and through which I explore different perspectives, connect with new people, and learn.
Thank you Anaïs for sharing this heartening experience with UniPID and special thanks for advocating hope in the frame of responsible and equitable academic partnerships.
What’s next? If you have recently submitted your master’s thesis on international development issues, you are warmly welcome to participate in the Master’s Award 2023 organized by UniPID and the FSDR. Submit your thesis by 5 September 2023 at 23.59. For further information, please contact Ana Tarazona (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Photo credits: Kyle Glenn, 2017 on UnSplash