This 2020 activity consisted of a “winter school” in West Africa and a follow-up one day virtual workshop. The goal of the activity is to bring together students from various disciplines and countries focusing on the topics of “Water and Life” while working in a transcultural and translingual setting. The students from different academic institutions work across disciplines and learn how to develop applied research projects that can feed into practical contributions towards a more sustainable ecosystem, with a special focus on water and livelihoods.

This activity included the following:

Step 1: Application and Preparation

A call for interested Bachelor and Master students at the collaborating NEWAL Swiss and West African institutions was announced a few months before the school was to take place, with students being asked to apply by submitting CVs and letters of interest. A selection was made based on the received applications.

General topics for the students’ proposed Bachelor and Master research projects were defined in advance based on the experience and interests of students, in agreement with their academic supervisors.

The students were expected to do initial preparatory work (literature research, possibly data collection) before the winter school took place.

Step 2: Winter School at KNUST, Kumasi Ghana, February 2020

The 5-day winter school included inputs from international experts, group work on case studies, and field excursions. The students were divided up into groups of different disciplines, universities and countries, and representing different SDGs.

Following up on presentations by experienced researchers from the Swiss and West African collaborating institutions, as well as field excursions and discussions with local stakeholders, the participating students worked in groups exploring the nexuses between the SDGs, the overarching concern of water in West Africa, and their respective research interests.

Read more about the first implemented Winter School Ghana 2020 and see pictures from Winter School Ghana 2020.

Winter School in West Africa

Step 3: Remote research

After the winter school, each participating student worked on their research, collecting information about the most pressing challenges faced by local communities concerning water and the respective SDGs, and addressing a particular challenge that they, along with their supervisor, identified as the focus of their research.

The research took into consideration the local context and outcomes from the winter school activities. Due to the global pandemic situation, the students from Switzerland who had planned to do field work in West Africa were unfortunately not able to do so. Instead they used online resources to complement their research.

Step 4: Online workshop

After having completed their research activities at their respective academic institutions, the students met in a one day online workshop to present and discuss the results of their work. This step had initially been planned as a «summer school» in Switzerland but the format had to be changed due to 2020 global travel restrictions. Discussions were held on possible ways forward, opportunities for the students to pursue further related activities, and collaboration opportunities for all involved academic institutions.

Read more about the implemented Online Workshop 2020.

Summer School in Switzerland