Linking Students and Community Partners at home and abroad.
The research took place over four academic years from 2014 to 2018. It involved five student groups, different groups each year, who participated on a voluntary basis. These are referred to in the research as the ‘Online Intercultural Exchange’ Group (OIE Group), the ‘Cross Disciplinary Group’ (CDG), the ‘Mixed Abilities Group’ (MAG) and the ‘Global Teacher Award’ (GTA) and Creative Arts Group (CAG). These students all participated in the research on a voluntary basis and along with community partners at home and abroad they worked on a series of collaborative projects. The community partners involved were: the ‘Action Lesotho’ staff team based in Lesotho, Family Carers Ireland, Cork branch, associates of three NGO’s working in the field of Disability Support Services, members of the Yazidis community in a refugee camp in Northern Iraq and a group of asylum-seekers and refugees living in Cork. Also involved, to a lesser extent was a group of people living in residential care for people with disabilities, in Kulkata, India. Students and partners took part in a series of collaborative projects as explained in this section. These included an online intercultural exchange; collaborative classroom-based learning; digital storytelling; a digital archive; visual arts and a public art exhibition at a high profile art gallery; and radio broadcasting.
This section of the thesis provides a description of the student groups and the community groups and the research process. It explains how these groups were recruited to volunteer in the research. However, while the findings do refer to the impact of the work on all students and community groups, I pay particular attention in the research to four individual students and four individual community partners. These are referred to in the thesis as ‘key participants’, either ‘key student participant’ or ‘key community participant’. These more in-depth studies of eight individuals is necessary to provide the ‘think description’ required for a critical ethnographical approach.
Each year a group of students volunteered to attend DE workshops (usually six hours) and carry out collaborative projects with partner community groups. Typical themes covered in the six workshops included an exploration of the concepts of ‘development’ and ‘development education’; wealth and poverty; refugees and migration; trade and climate justice; the sustainable development goals; human rights and development and women and development. Three of the student participants were on a work placement as part of their own study programme and they worked closely with the researcher over several months with community partners on designated projects. Other students volunteered to take part in a community linked projects, some local, some in Global South countries. The students and community groups also used a range of media to develop collaborative projects.