17 Mai 2023


Commission for Research Partnerships with Developing Countries (KFPE)


Workshop: "Students in 'the Field': Decolonizing Applied Research Collaborations. Discussion of Experiences and Practices"

Part of an online workshop series in relation to the annual conference "Decolonizing Swiss Research Collaborations" by KFPE

Based at the Bern University of Applied Sciences, School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences (BFH-HAFL) in Zollikofen, the HAFL Hugo P. Cecchini Institute is a competence center active in developing and transition countries. For many decades, a significant number of BSc and MSc level students in agricultural, forest and food sciences at BFH-HAFL have been conducting extended periods of field research in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) across Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. Before their field research abroad, most students will have already come in touch with or be of a certain opinion about the issue of decolonization – based on their own experiences from having travelled, lived, or originating from a LMIC.

Preparation phase: An educational and applied research institution has an important role to play in adequately preparing students on matters concerning a potential career in development cooperation or research for development, and therefore particularly also on the highly relevant issue of decolonialization. However, this is a very complex and difficult subject and task. What are best practices? How is currently being dealt with the subject? What are other institutions doing in this respect? What should be changed in the current practices? 

Accompanying phase: During their stay abroad, the students make their own experiences – how can we (partly online) and our partners in the host country best support them to discuss their experiences, questions and challenges? 

Institutional learning phase: After students return from their field research assignments, how should the topic of decolonization be addressed while sharing experiences after a longer stay abroad? How can this institution learn from those experiences as well as those from the partner organizations which hosted the students? What are the key messages and lessons learnt that should then be transmitted to the next generation of students, but also to the staff involved in North-South research partnerships? Appreciating and processing those experiences while also remaining at the forefront of the societal and scientific discourse on decolonization is an essential requirement for an educational institution such as BFH-HAFL – in order for the students, partner organizations and other stakeholders to acknowledge that we retain sector thought leadership. 

Objectives: Sharing experiences, discuss best practices, contribute to the debate in an open and participatory way, identifying challenges and opportunities, support the decolonization of current academic studies and collaborations.

During this workshop the aim is to learn from different institutions how they accompany students in field research in LMICs. These presentations will be followed by a discussion on good practices and ways forward.

Organised by Dr Dominique Guenat

Register now for the workshop to participate and receive the Zoom-Link.

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