This activity consists of a “winter school” in West Africa and a “summer school” in Switzerland. The goal of these combined exchange programs 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.

The Network NEWAL is organising and funding these activities.

This activities are consisting of four steps:

Step 1: Application and Preparation

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

General topics for the students’ proposed Bachelor and Master research projects will be defined in advance based on the experience and interests of students, in agreement with their advisors. The students will be divided up into groups of different disciplines, universities and countries, and representing different SDGs.

The students are expected to do initial preparatory work (literature research, possibly data collection) before the schools take place.

Step 2: Winter School in West Africa

A 5-day winter school will include inputs from international experts, group work on case studies, and field excursions. During the first days, students representing the different SDGs will present the information that they collected during the preparation phase, along with their proposed research topics.

In response to these initial presentations, and 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 will explore the nexuses between the SDGs, the overarching concern of water in West Africa, and their respective approaches. Inputs on general topics such as project management and intercultural communication will be included.

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

Each participating student will work a few months on their topics, i.e. collecting information about the most pressing challenges faced by local communities concerning water and the respective SDGs, addressing a particular challenge that they, along with their supervisor, identified as the focus of their research.

The research should take into consideration the local context and the outcomes of the winter school. The scope of the research is to be defined under the guidance of the supervising advisor and according to the student’s university requirements. During this time, the 6 students within each group are expected to communicate and learn from each other through online discussions and the Swiss students may go to West Africa for field activities.

Step 4: Summer School in Switzerland

After having completed their research thesis, the students will meet again to present and discuss the results of their work. Each group of students will present their results to the other students and staff from the collaborating academic institutions. Discussions will be held on possible ways forward, opportunities for the students to pursue further related activities, and collaboration opportunities for all involved academic institutions. Field visits in Switzerland will be included.

Read more about the implemented Online Day 2020.

Summer School in Switzerland