12 May 2020

Students embark on virtual Tanzania fieldclass

Over Easter 24 students and 3 staff embarked on a virtual field class to Tanzania.

Dr Deborah Sporton delivering an online field class

Over Easter 24 students and 3 staff embarked on a virtual field class to Tanzania. Having prepared for an actual field class, which could not run due to Covid-19, our International Development students were quick to rework their research projects so that they could undertake field work at a distance with local informants. We worked with our local partner NGO, KEDA based in the Kilimanjaro Region to undertake research on a range of issues such as Climate Change, Irrigation, Cash Crop Farming, Gender and Farming, rural-urban linkages as well as and Water and Sanitation.

Each day groups worked virtually, interviewing key informants as well as analysing secondary data before debriefing as a group in the evenings when staff and students would typically discuss research issues that arose as well as share Tanzanian cookery recipes and even a Tanzanian musical playlist. At the end of the week, each group presented their research in a small virtual conference and prepared policy briefs for our partner NGO and local stakeholders.  

‘While it would have been a great experience to do the fieldwork in Tanzania, the virtual fieldclass was an enriching experience and provided opportunities for learning that may have just equipped and prepared us on how to conduct research in the new normal’ - Angel Zorilla, Masters in Public Health and International Development

 ‘With COVID-19 creating shifts of a magnitude no one could expect, my intended research around food security for the elderly in Moshi Rural was shifted into a virtual space. The experience equipped us with stronger communication skills as we navigated communication challenges without the face the face components we had grown accustomed to. For every contact, we found ourselves thinking more about clarity,  pronunciation, the medium we were using and how best to build rapport with our interviewees.’ - Shanoy Harris-Coombes MA Intercultural Communication and International Development

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