Third year Geography student conducts research in Kenya as part of GLOSS
The highlight of my trip was the people I met and got to work with. Partnering with experienced Kenyan researchers and being immersed in another culture broke down stereotypes and presumptions I didn't even realise I held: I learned to think about global challenges from an entirely new perspective.
BSc Geography, third year undergrduate
This summer I had the privilege of travelling to Northern Kenya to conduct research along LAPSSET, a new development corridor in the region, as part of a larger research team. The research team included academics from the University of Sheffield, the University of Manchester, the University of Nairobi and Aga Khan University, as well as civil society organisations from Kenya and Tanzania.
Their activities were funded by QR GCRF funding. The GLOSS Research Associate Scheme - which provides social science students the opportunity to conduct international research while supervised by an academic - made my involvement in this project possible.
Development corridors, like LAPSSET, span vast segments of land - combining infrastructure, industrialisation and agriculture development. While our research team focused on one small section of LAPSSET in the north of the country, the corridor will connect the countries of Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan once complete.
My own research focused on women and water along LAPSSET. It was developed to contribute to an identified literature gap on gender and mega-infrastructure. While in northern Kenya, I spent time with researchers at IMPACT interviewing a range of stakeholders along the corridor, spanning the rural and urban, in attempt to piece together the way water flows through this space, who uses it and for what, and how water resources have been impacted by LAPSSET.
Conducting primary research is an irreplaceable experience. While conducting my research, I learned how to effectively interview different groups of people. This included people of different genders, ages and professions. By watching and mirroring my supervisors and research partners, I quickly picked up on key skills for interviewing that helped me to encourage conversation even through language barriers, such as body language and simple questioning.
Throughout the course of my research, my experience and confidence grew and interviews became more organic and productive. I also improved my analysis and writing skills, learning to communicate more concisely.
In the spring, I will participate in a research showcase: this will demand good presentation skills. During my time in Kenya, I was also able to collect my undergraduate dissertation data, which means I’ve started third year ready to do my analysis.
As cliche as it sounds, the highlight of my trip was the people I met and got to work with. Partnering with experienced Kenyan researchers and being immersed in another culture broke down stereotypes and presumptions I didn't even realise I held: I learned to think about global challenges from an entirely new perspective. Also, seeing giraffes, elephants and zebras while 'driving along' was pretty great!
Dr. Charis Enns, Dr. Brock Bersaglio and Prof. Frances Cleaver supervised my GLOSS project, but you can approach any academic in your department to apply for this scheme. As part of the GLOSS RA Scheme, you will need to complete an academic poster, 1000 word report and reflective evaluation. However, these are due before the start of semester meaning the work doesn’t impact your final year studies.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about applying for GLOSS, conducting independent research or my dissertation topic itself!
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