Concept

This activity consists of a “winter school” in Ghana in February and a “summer school” in Switzerland in August. The goal of these schools is to bring together 24 students from various disciplines and countries to focus on the overarching topic of “Water and Life” while working in a transcultural and translingual setting. The young and promising students from Swiss and West African academic institutions work across disciplines and learn how to develop research projects that can feed into practical contributions towards a more sustainable ecosystem, with a special focus on water and livelihoods.

This activity is implemented in four steps:

Step 1: Preparation phase

The overarching theme for this learning and research activity is “Water and Life.” A call for interested Bachelor and Master students at the collaborating Swiss and West African institutions will go out a few months before the winter school is to take place, with students being asked to apply by submitting CVs and letters of interest. A selection of 24 students, 8 from Switzerland and 16 from West Africa, 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 supervising advisors. The 24 students will be divided up into 4 groups of 6 students from different disciplines, universities and countries, and representing different SDGs. The students are expected to do some initial preparatory work (literature research, possibly data collection) before the winter school takes place.

Step 2: “Winter School” in Ghana

The 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 Afrcia, and their respective approaches. Inputs on general topics such as project management and intercultural communication will also be included.

Read more about an implemented Winter School.

Pictures from Winter School Ghana 2020

Winter School in West Africa

Step 3: Remote research

Each participating university student will spend 2-6 months doing field research and data collection, i.e. 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 should take into consideration the local context and it should elaborate on 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: Wrap-up “Summer School” in Switzerland

After having completed their research, the 24 students will meet again to present and discuss the results of their work. Each group of 6 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 to sites in Switzerland such as Water and Wastewater Treatment Plants will also be included.

Read more about an implemented Online Day 2020.

Summer School in Switzerland