Learning across borders

After having experienced the CRI learning environment, students are eager to share the approaches and skills they have developed therein. As a large number of them come from different countries, they too want to initiate outreach programs to give back to local communities. “Many people from developing countries in Asia and Africa come to study abroad, so there is a lot of brain drain. The question is : can we reverse it into a brain gain ? », Anirudh Krishnakumar wondered, “at the same time, the idea of students from different disciplines and cultures learning from each other appealed to me”. This PhD researcher and 2 Master students (Kishore Sivakumar and Imad Irzi) led a 5 months Student Peer Learning Program with students in Chennai, India, where a curriculum targeting research meta skills and contemporary techno-skills was designed. Seven CRI inspired courses were administered, with local students creating research projects, games and wikipedia pages with schools concerned with mental health challenges like autism. According to Kishore, who participated in the above program, “the beautiful part of this whole enriching experience is the reflection of the fact that everyone is a teacher and a student at the same time.”

Like them, many others at CRI have engaged in outreach programs. Liubov Tupikina, a mathematician and short-term fellow, works on « Lecturers without borders » which brings together scientists travelling around the globe to come to high-schools share knowledge and critical thinking. So far, this project has reached over 10 international schools in Nepal, India, Russia, France, Germany, and Uruguay. “Importantly, the goal is not to teach something, the goal is more to open up the curiosity and to enhance the connections between scientists and high-schools (universities) around the world.”. The project received last December a grant from the Botnar Foundation.

With Masters and PhD students Albin Salazar, Elizabeth Adjei and Nefeli Paparisteidi, former multimedia project manager Yves Ininahazwe created the “Home association”, teaching practical skills sets and bringing novel learning approaches to students in Accra, Ghana and Kigali, Rwanda. Another program was founded by CRI alumni Kishore Sivakumar, Nidhi Patel and Naina Goel : the “Learning 4 Sustainability Club” conducted workshops in Bali, Indonesia, and will launch a spring school in Patna, India, to reduce educational inequalities and empower school students to be active members in social action. Shazzad Hossain Mukit, AIRE alumni, has launched “CareerKi”, a career development platform for youths and a talent matching solution for employers in Bangladesh.

Our call for action to support and nurture student-driven projects was ably encouraged and supported by CRI researchers : Drs Ariel Lindner, Amodsen Chotia, Sophie Pene, Liliana Baquero and the AIRE masters team”, Anirudh adds. With former research fellow Felix Schoeller, he works to develop outreach programs : “Student-driven research and citizen science projects through summer schools and challenges are already underway for many years. This year, we offer CRI students the possibility of group internships, working on projects towards solving SDGs, as part of the curriculum, in the summer months. We are developing MindLogger, a student project toolkit to make it easy for students to build their own projects apps and collect/visualize/analyse data. Finally, we are also creating a support system that will enable students to share CRI endeavours in research and education in different cities with local communities.”

Centres for Open Research and Education (COREs) are currently being launched by CRI students and alumni in Chennai, Dhaka and Accra. Besides reinforcing the bond between migrating students and their home countries, these programs contribute to make education more accessible and open around the world.

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