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New collaboration with MAIDS-GRID at Chulalongkorn University, Thailand

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‘International’ is a pillar of the University of Warwick’s 2030 strategy. To support this, in GSD, we are exploring new and innovative ways of building international partnerships that enhance our research and teaching, and create opportunities for both students and staff.

Last year, GSD was delighted to establish an exciting collaboration at postgraduate level with the programmes in International Development Studies (MAIDS-GRID) at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, the highest-ranked university in Thailand. This partnership was conceptualised under the Thai-UK World-class University Consortium, funded by the British Council, which aims to bring together Thai and UK institutions for internationalisation and to enhance teaching and research through knowledge exchange and sharing. We believe that an important element to becoming an international department is having staff and students from GSD engage in dialogue and exchange knowledge, ideas and perspectives on areas of common interest with their counterparts in other institutions, in both the Global North and South. Accordingly, the main focus of this partnership is academic and research exchange in the areas of global sustainable development and transdisciplinarity.

MAIDS-GRID at Chulalongkorn and GSD at Warwick both offer international postgraduate programmes in sustainable development and development studies, which share several similarities, including a transdisciplinary teaching and research philosophy, an international student body and comparable programme size. Prof Stéphanie Panichelli-Batalla, Head of the School for Cross-faculty Studies (SCFS), commented on this partnership: “It just makes sense to us to seek to work with the consortium framework. We appreciate the value that working with the group can bring to issues of global importance. By working collaboratively with people and institutions that originate from different backgrounds and have different experiences and expertise, we can learn more, do more and also have more impact. And this is exactly the kind of partnership that we want to have. One that is constructive, meaningful, but also with a good degree of joy, fun and enjoyment.”

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As part of the partnership, last July, GSD hosted a delegation from Chulalongkorn University, including the Dean of the Faculty of Political Science, the Dean for Graduate Studies and International Affairs, the Director and Deputy Director of the MAIDS-GRID programme and the MAIDS-GRID programme Coordinator. Together, we explored mutual areas of research and teaching collaboration. Following the visit, we launched a series of activities, including joint advisory on students’ research projects and a student-led postgraduate research forum, where PhD students in both universities present their ongoing research and build dialogue.

 Chula Chula visit MS

To further develop the collaboration, this January, a delegation from GSD travelled to Bangkok, to plan how to move forward: Prof Stephanie Panichelli-Batalla, Head of the School for Cross-faculty Studies (SCFS), Dr Jessica Savage, Deputy Head of School (GSD), Dr Marta Guerriero, GSD’s International Partnerships Coordinator and Heather Robson, Postgraduate Programmes Manager in SCFS. In Bangkok, they were joined by one of GSD’s PhD students, Thipphaphone Xayavong, currently undertaking field research in Laos, and Dr Henrik Møller, presently conducting research in Thailand.

In Bangkok, the GSD team was welcomed warmly. A series of activities were planned during the discussions, including the design of a collaborative postgraduate taught module, aimed at pushing disciplinary boundaries, creating actionable knowledge and connecting the Thai and British localities to global dimensions of sustainable development. The GSD delegation also contributed to the organisation and delivery of a public seminar on 24th January on 'Transdisciplinarity for Global Sustainable Development: Opportunities and Challenges for Research and Teaching', aimed at discussing transdisciplinary research and teaching with staff and students from both institutions. During the workshop, we learnt about the work of the Center for Social Development Studies at Chulalongkorn University and the KNOTS project, aimed at fostering multi-lateral knowledge networks of transdisciplinary studies to tackle global challenges.

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The event follows last year’s online panel discussion on 'Re-Thinking International Development: Towards Co-Creation of Knowledge and Future for Global Commons', organised by Chulalongkorn University, which saw the participation of Prof Mandy Sadan. The co-organised public seminar will be, from now on, a yearly hybrid appointment on themes relevant to GSD and transdisciplinarity, and it will contribute to the establishment of a firm foundation for our long-term institutional linkages. Engaging in mutual dialogue on areas of common interest is, as aforementioned, at the heart of our approach to international collaborations, as we aim to bring ethics and equity in our partnerships, particularly with institutions from the Global South.