Overseas Institutional Visit (OIV): Megan Palmer
Megan is on the Economic and Social History Pathway at the University of Nottingham. Her research topic is: “Urban Experience and Everyday Life in Brasov, 1867-1914”. Between April and June 2023 she undertook an Overseas Institutional Visit to Romania. Megan’s OIV was split between the University of Babes-Bolyai (UBB) in Cluj-Napoca – and the Ratiu Forum, an NGO based in the nearby town of Turda.
For the academic component of her visit, Megan periodically attended the Faculty of History at UBB to learn best research practice from researchers working with historic Romanian sources. She had an academic mentor who designed and led her learning programme. He gave her detailed instruction on how to use Social Network Analysis software as well as its underlying principles as well as guidance on the available digitised archival records and the logic that underpins the databases in which they are stored. Together, they workshopped Megan’s existing research questions so that they could prepare the best possible database and data collection to address those in as detailed and rigorous way possible. Megan had the opportunity for periods of independent practice with the software and databases, supported by her academic mentor. This gave Megan a far stronger understanding of what information is most useful for researchers involved in social network tracing, and best analytical methodologies and research presentation and she has been invited me to return to the university in the future to deliver a talk on her research.
For the NGO component of her visit, Megan was based at their headquarters near to Cluj-Napoca in Transylvania. She was under the supervision of the Director pf the NGO with the task of producing an evaluative report of a project that has run there since 2020: their history teaching project: This project runs workshops for high school teachers across Romania, encouraging teachers, and thus their students, to engage critically with historical narratives and for their students to develop greater independent thinking and informed discourses about their past. Megan had complete access to the NGO’s resources, such as anonymised feedback about workshops, and conducted numerous semi-structured interviews with Ratiu Forum staff at all levels, teacher participants, workshop leaders, and NGO professionals working in comparable areas outside of Romania. The finished report will be shared with all their team and stakeholders as part of a broader review and strategy development process later this year.
About her OIV, Megan comments:
“My OIV has indisputably enhanced my research, both directly and indirectly…It was hugely beneficial to spend time in a Romanian academic context, and even more so within a Transylvanian one, where the local and regional histories are central rather than peripheral…My work with the Ratiu Forum has also had a positive impact on my research as well as my future career. Regarding my current research, it was motivating to see in action how my research touches on contemporary societal and political tensions in Romania and the broader region through my discussions with NGO staff and history teachers….Regarding my future career, I intentionally incorporated the NGO component of my visit to strengthen the transferability of my knowledge and skills. In this regard, I believe the visit was also a success. I now have professional experience of using the social science methods and approaches I developed during the MA component of my ESRC studentship. I have also produced an official report that will inform the NGO’s future policy and strategy, which has deepened the impact of my work during the OIV”.
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