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- Developing the ‘Global Researcher’ – ‘what’, ‘so what’ and ‘now what’
Developing the ‘Global Researcher’ – ‘what’, ‘so what’ and ‘now what’
25 September 2011
By Lynn Clark
A report for Universities UK (2010), The Future of Research, indicated that ‘global partnerships’ would provide an essential feature of the research landscape in the 21st century; essential for generating ideas, sharing resources and for creating future prosperity. Researchers and University research are now considered crucial to the future growth of innovation and economy prosperity, but much of the UK focus has been on in-coming researchers rather than encouraging genuine global engagement by all researchers. Yet, as the UUK report signifies, there is an ever increasing demand for researchers at the postgraduate and postdoctoral levels to demonstrate a global perspective and to contribute to economies world-wide.
We would argue that to do this, firstly, we need to know what it means to be a researcher with a global perspective. Moreover, what skills, competencies and personal attributes such researchers need to have and develop? Secondly, how do HEIs currently support and enable the development of these skills, competencies and personal attributes? Finally, what still needs to happen at the national, institutional and the individual researcher level to enable the development of researchers with global perspectives? In our VITAE workshop, we presented a collaborative project (in its early stages of development), between the Universities of Manchester, Southampton and Liverpool called the ‘Global Researcher Project’ aimed at exploring such questions.
What? - A Global Researcher.
We explored what is means to be a global researcher, more specifically ‘what kind of people would we, ideally, like to develop?’ in light of institutional, national and worldwide policy associated with Internationalisation. Six categories emerged from the group discussions; language and communication competency, cultural awareness and global mindedness, open and flexible thinking, willingness to be mobile, humility and global morality, and a future/connected/ambition-orientated.
So what? - Current activity supporting Global Researchers
We presented preliminary findings, from an online survey (completed by 8 UK HEIs), on the current activity provided to support the development of global researchers in response to the Internationalisation. All of the participating HEIs have an Institutional Internationalisation strategy or one in development. All of the participating HEIs provide training opportunities to support the development of incoming postgraduate researchers, however only 1 of the 8 has any development opportunities for their outgoing academics. Writing support for international researchers, intercultural awareness training, diversity and equality training and support for careers in Europe are examples of the activities used to support researchers that were considered relevant to internationalisation. However, as yet, it appears that coordinated concrete plans to develop global researchers is limited, and/or possibly not widely communicated across the HEIs. A similar picture emerged from discussions of this topic during the workshop, which included representatives from HEIs in Norway, Japan and Sweden. We strongly believe that this picture would benefit from a systematically, in depth exploration. Hence, the online ‘The Global Researcher - current HEI practice’ survey is still open. We would be very grateful if you, or an appropriate colleague from your institution, could complete this here. It should only take approximately 10 minutes to complete. If you have any questions about the survey or the project please contact us via email@example.com.
Now what? - The gaps
In the workshop, participant groups also discussed common gaps and shared ideas about how to support the development of ‘global researchers’ from the national, institutional and the individual researcher levels. Mobility and Visa restrictions at the national level, funding for training for incoming and outgoing researchers (including international summer schools assisted by supervisors), clarity over conditions and contracts for researchers, and interaction with institutional International Offices at the institutional level were highlighted as areas to that would benefit from attention. Whereas the groups stated that individual researchers have a responsibility to become more aware of, make and take advantage of, the opportunities that support and enable them to develop into global researchers, for instance learn another language, and join/create international peer group forums.
Should all be global?
The question ‘Should all researchers be global?’ was asked by a participant at the workshop. I believe this has to be individual choice. A choice informed by a clear understanding of the landscape within which researchers of the 21st century operate and the consequences to their choice to be global or not. Most importantly, all researchers should have access to opportunities, and take advantage of them were they exist, to develop as a global researcher if they choose to do so.
We were delighted to have a journalist writing for Nature Jobs attend the workshop, and subsequently the ‘Becoming a global researcher’ article appeared here.
Finally, we would like to thank all of you that have contributed to the survey and the workshop. Your input is invaluable to the project, and has inspired us to take the research forward.
Best, ‘The Global Researcher’ Project Team.
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