Universities of the World – Blog Update, April 2020

Written by Emmanuel Johnson

Figure 1: Online meeting between UFES and CU colleagues
(From top left to bottom right: Dr Tania Delboni, Dr Patrícia Cardoso, Dr. Marta Vizcaya and Prof. Lúcia Garcia)

The Universities of the World project launched in September 2019. It is a collaboration between Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo (UFES) in Brazil, and Coventry University in the UK. Funded by the British Council, the project’s aims to support internationalisation mechanisms in Brazil’s Higher Education (HE) institutions and strengthen high quality collaboration between the two institutions.

As a PhD assistant, I joined the project to support project operations and evaluation. I have a background in Media and Cultural Studies, and I am interested in the influence of culture on everyday life. I am currently a PhD student at the Centre for Global Learning: Education and Attainment. My research focuses on the Nigerian student experience in UK Higher Education; inspired by my personal experience as a Nigerian student in the UK.

We have outlined nine project activities :

  • Set up and data management/coordination protocols
  • Identification of strategic initiatives and preliminary preparations
  • UFES participation in the CU Research Hootenanny (Researcher Development Week) and joint strategic planning
  • Advancement of collaborative internationalization activities
  • Joint preparations for the CU visit to UFES
  • CU participation in UFES research environment and strategic joint project evaluation
  • Joint advancement of collaborative internationalization activities
  • Project evaluation, and outline of next steps
  • Conclusion, dissemination and reporting

In line with our activities, we have had key achievements including:

  • A communications plan between both universities
  • Initiation of  new research collaboration between professors, for example, Prof. Lynn Clouder (CU) and Prof. Reginaldo Celio Sobrinho around disability and inclusive education. GLEA internationalisation theme and UFES education department/social work around decolonisation and Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL)
  • 3 month scholarly Post Doc visit from Dr. Rafael Vieira Teixeira at GLEA
  • Submission of paper to Studies in Comparative International Development by team (Maria Lúcia T. Garcia; Olga Perez Soto Perez Perez Soto; Gary Spolander; Arinola Adefila; Mouzayian Khalil-Babatunde; Nicolette V. Roman V. Roman) titled: “Social development: living the myth of Sisyphus?”

Figure 2: First online meeting between colleagues in Brazil and UK
(From top left to bottom right: Dr Patrícia Cardoso, Prof. Katherine Wimpenny, Prof. Lúcia Garcia, Dr Tania Delboni, Dr. Richard Tomlins, Dr. Marta Vizcaya, Emmanuel Johnson, Dr. Arinola Adefila)

Due to the unforeseen event of COVID-19, the team has been unable to meet physically in March 2020 as planned. However, project activities and communication continued via virtual meetings between colleagues in Brazil and UK (as shared in Figure 1). Some key points discussed during our meetings include:

  • Progress and impact monitoring against the project activities
  • Evaluation of January visit outcomes
  • CU/ UFES Cotutelle Awards and proposed student journeys (as part of the project, both universities will be delivering a dual award PhD)

In addition to the above points, I have interviewed colleagues in UFES and CU to explore their perspectives around the project. These reflections have been captured in video, and will be shared publically.

Figure 3: Online interview with Dr. Leticia Fantinel in Brazil, with other colleagues listening to the conversation
(From top right to bottom right: Dr Tania Delboni, Dr. Marta Vizcaya, Dr. Leticia Fantinel,  Dr Patrícia Cardoso)

Figure 4: A second online interview with CU GLEA colleagues
(From top right to bottom right: Emmanuel Johnson, Dr. Arinola Adefila, Prof. Katherine Wimpenny)

Here are the next steps for us in the project:

  • The CU/ UFES Cotutelle award is being progressed
  • Progress collaboration between UFES other research centres in CU (Future Transport and Cities, Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience)
  • Publications continue and proposal developments for research studies with colleagues in GLEA (with other partners in The Hague University of Applied Science, University Colleges Belgium, Florida International University)

Figure 5: Online meeting between UFES and CU colleagues
(From top right to centre: Dr Arinola Adefila, Dr Wagner Santos, Dr. Leticia Fantinel, Dr Patrícia Cardoso, Dr Richard Tomlins)

The Universities of the World project has progressed rapidly, expanding into many areas of international collaboration and research. The project has enabled a number of researchers across both institutions to begin discussions around bid development and collaborative projects. The project ends in April 2021 and is on track to fulfil outputs and significant contributions to both institutions and research partnerships across Brazil and the UK.