30 students and 10 internationally-renowned faculty members spend 7 days in a small picturesque island in Italy’s Gulf of Naples…
Sounds like a reality show, or the start of a math problem.
According to my fiancé, friends and family (and others that may follow me on FB or Insta in Sep 2015) it was a ‘holiday’.
And while there may be some truth to that understanding, I was actually in ‘school’ all week, as I was lucky enough to be selected to attend the third edition of the Aidea Capri Summer School on the Island of Capri in Italy.
Submissions are open for the IV Edition of the AIDEA CAPRI SUMMER SCHOOL to be held in September 2016. And, with 9 days left for submission, I thought I would collate my thoughts on my experience so that those of you who might be interested can begin preparing your application!
What motivated me to apply for the AIDEA CAPRI SUMMER SCHOOL 2015?
Place: Have you seen the photos!? The island looked a dream! For someone who had not yet been to Europe, the pics and location were probably sufficient to motivate me to submit an application.
Process: Secondly, as a doctoral student, and particularly one embarking on Māori research for the first time, I have spent a considerable amount of the doctoral process reading about ontological and epistemological assumptions underpinning research and questioning and interrogating my own viewpoint. This, I feel is a shared fascination with the other K.I.N members – which actually spurred the creation of the indigenous student group that developed this blog! Therefore, the thought of engaging in stimulating discussion about these issues on a little Italian island got the excitement building.
People: The opportunity to draw on the expertise of world-renowned faculty (whose names I have been reading and citing for some time!), particularly, the ability to share and hopefully refine my analytical process was a major draw card. Admittedly, being geographically removed from the Global North, the home of much of the literature, articles and gads of books we have studied for the past 7+ years, I couldn’t help but develop a sense that I am somehow missing out on a wealth of knowledge and expertise that would be beneficial for furthering my understanding in my field and advancing my thesis project. Additionally, I had an understanding that establishing international connections with other emerging academics would be advantageous should I pursue an academic career going forward.
So…what was it really like?
Place: The island of Capri certainly lived up to my expectations! Arriving in Marina Grande (the main port), I was mesmerised by the boats that lined the bay, the bustling tourism and traditional buildings on the street front. The narrow lanes and hills that could just barely fit two vehicles side by side, made for interesting bus rides up, down and across the island. In the main centres of Capri and Anacapri, the streets were clean and the Caprians that manned the many restaurants, shops, antique and souvenir stores were hospitable and friendly. And the food, though not cheap, was decently-sized and delicious!
Process: Universities, viewed as sites of knowledge production have historically been imbued with the authority to determine what is knowledge, and has traditionally been produced through ‘apparently’ objective, positivistic, termed ‘scientific’ means with specific criteria for evaluating its legitimacy. As indigenous wannabe scholars 😉 we understand this unquestioned position of scientific information as the only legitimate form of knowledge to be false, and as such has been questioned and critiqued by our communities since we have gained access to educational institutions in greater numbers.
Interestingly, this is kind of the point of the school.
During two-hour lectures and smaller group discussions, the Faculty aimed to critique traditional academic methods and worked to promote qualitative methodologies to emerging academics as a way forward for research within academic institutions. While indigenous methodologies (unsurprisingly) were not discussed at any length, lecture topics included:qualitative research as craft vs technique, theoretical exploration vs theoretical exploitation, structuring qualitative inquiry and a session on reviewing and being reviewed. Fellow students who had received little guidance from their supervisors in qualitative methods or were yet to engage with questions of ontology or epistemology found the lectures to be thought-provoking and highly relevant to their research. On the contrary, I felt that much of the lecture content was reiterating (though in quite simplistic and reductionist ways) issues I had been grappling with for some time and as such feel that my learnings from the school were a little more covert and incremental than might have been for others.
What I did come away from the school with, was a renewed sense of confidence in my identity, my knowledge base, and my thesis objectives. Not simply because my thesis also (in one respect) argues for the inclusion of more pluralistic views within NZ business school operations, research, and curriculum, but rather, drawing on my personal and professional experiences as a wannabe Māori academic, I saw the value that Māori knowledge and cultural understandings can bring to academic processes – including an international school like this one.
People: Despite my hopes prior to the conference of meeting new people (whom I genuinely had an affinity for!), I honestly could not have imagined the calibre of the students in attendance, whom without a doubt, formed the highlight of this school for me. I was highly impressed with the contribution, critique, and courage that emanated from this group in the many discussions we had in response to existing academic literature, academic processes and even comments made by the school faculty. Remembering also that the majority of these students speak two or more languages, and are often non-native English speakers! The range of interesting research topics, from the experiences of family entrepreneurs in Mexico to helping behaviours amongst public-sector employees, to exploring emotions in project teams, all thought-up and conducted by a such a fabulous bunch, made me pretty excited about this career as an option. As cliché as it might sound, I feel truly privileged to have been a part of this group and to have made such close connections and friendships during such a small time.
Summary: I can say that prior to attending the school, I thought the process of learning and developing knowledge relating to methodological issues would be the most important outcome. However, I left with a renewed understanding that people are what is most important and that without them, the process would not have been as enjoyable! Long story short, say “Hell Yes” to opportunities and make a submission. You never know what the outcome will be, where it might lead, or the amazing people it might lead you to.
9 days left to submission deadline;)
AIDEA CAPRI SUMMER SCHOOL IV EDITION
WHAT IS IT: A one-week long summer school focusing on qualitative research methods for Management and Business School Students, held in the idyllic location of Anacapri, Italy, in September this year! Positions are limited to approximately 30 students. It will cost Euro 390,00 just to attend the school, then, of course, there’s transport, accommodation and a social event which you will need to budget for. Submissions due 30 April 2016
WHY YOU SHOULD APPLY:
- The location. Amazing!
- The people. Being taught by internationally-renowned Professors from across Europe provides a great opportunity to access minds you mightn’t normally be able to (particularly if you live in lil’ old Aotearoa!), in a relatively casual setting. You’ll also make friends and colleagues from around the world.
- The experience. The postgraduate journey can be an isolating one. This is an awesome opportunity to take your thoughts, concerns, ideas to a beautiful location and hash them out with students and faculty from around the world.
HOW TO APPLY:
- 4 page extended abstract of your thesis or research project, specifying:
- Originality and importance of topic
- Expected contributions
- Methodological perspectives, epistemological positions they would wish to discuss.
- Your CV;
- A letter of recommendation from your primary supervisor.
SOME TIPS, TRICKS & CAUTIONS:
- Find some funding! Check with your institutions and departments, do a google search, find some money. This was certainly an awesome experience, but I would not recommend mortgaging your house to attend. There will be plenty of other opportunities.
- Plan for a day or two either side of the formal school days. Most attendees will be studying in the vicinity of Europe, so receiving information about transport or additional events a week before the school will unlikely be an issue for them. However, if you planned to fly in from NZ to arrive the night before you may miss the last boat from Napoli, or a chance to attend the welcome drinks!
- Plan stopovers. It’s a long trip. If you can afford to plan a stopover to break it up. I was lucky enough to have relatives in Singapore I could stay with on both sides of the trip, and it’s just more fun!
- Carry-On Only? I love the whole ‘packing light’ movement, and had a go at this when I attended last year, it was a great idea, except I ended up checking my carry-on on the way home so that I could bring back some Limoncello de Capri!
So, what are you waiting for?
Best of luck for your submissions!