A day in the life ?

In this post I’m going to bring you on a journey and give you some insight into “A day in the life” of a EU Project Leader.

The recent trip I took, started on the 28 February and ended on the 22 March 2017 and a geographical spread from Limerick to Dresden in Germany, to Petrozavodsk in Russia, to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam and back to Limerick, Ireland.  Beautiful places with amazing stories to tell, the three locations are astonishing places to visit and steeped in cultural, history and heritage.

From The Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister (Old Masters Gallery) in Dresden and its majestic cluster of Baroque churches and the Rococo-style Zwinger area of the Dresden Court, to the spectacular Embankment of Lake Onega and the museums and monuments, in the Russian Federation to the magnificent lush, green, water world which is the Mekong Delta in Ho Chi Minh City, with its extensive cuisine, Pagodas and Buddhist temples, all remarkable all unique. 

The purpose of the trips was to attend a number of meetings dealing with some of the projects I’m involved with.  You will see, I use the term Kickoff meeting quite a bit, this is a term the EU likes to use to describe the first meeting in a project.  One of the projects I will describe is new and the duration of the projects is for three years, the other two, are half way through the cycle, so the other two are each in operation for one and a half years. The projects I have described alone with some others will form the basis for my research, which is centered on How to EU Erasmus + Capacity Building Projects in Higher Education impact on society and how can this be measured.

Dresden became a City in 1206 and celebrated its 800 birthday in 2006, it was almost fully destroyed during the second World War in 1945, 75 percent of the city was destroyed during allied air raids and over 30,000 people lost their lives.  Today the city is beautiful and restored to its former glory and host some fantastic Museums and Galleries, festivals and events, which attract millions of tourists each year. It a must see place if your visiting Germany.  

From there our journey took us to the adorable city of Petrozavodsk in Russia, the temperature when I arrived was between -25°C to -30°C, with a wind coming off Lake Onega that would shave you. The Lake was completely iced over and the walk along the promenade was not for the faint hearted unless you were well wrapped up, with the mandatory gloves, hat, coat and about four layers of clothing on under it.

In contrast, the next city was Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, or as its still called by locals, Saigon.  Temperatures here were the exact opposite to Petrozavodsk, here is was between +25°C to +30°C, a welcome change I can assure you.  Ho Chi Minh City a buzz of excitement and energy, it bears no visible scares of the turmoil of the recent war however it memory still lives in the soul of the people and the city.

Saigon today is a mix of skyscrapers which would be at home in cities such as New York or the Financial District of London, intertwined with tiny streets, street food, local restaurants, street vendors and buzzing motorbikes and scooters which zip through the city at lighting pace.

 

I have been involved in EU Capacity Building Projects for seven years now, these project have brought me to many countries with the aim to support eligible partner counties to:

  • Modernise and internationalize and increase access to higher education
  • address the challenges facing their higher education institutions and systems
  • increase cooperation with the EU
  • voluntarily converge with EU development in higher education, and
  • promote people to people contacts, intercultural awareness, and understanding. (Europa, 2017)

 Combining EU Projects, travel and the day job means that I have to plan the travel carefully and ensure that I have the wherewithal to be contactable while traveling (well as much as possible), so I have to plan to make sure that I can run my department (Information and Library Resource Centre) well and achieve all the other things which need to be done as part of our commitment to EU projects. Here are a few tips I have learned along the way, to make life a bit easier.

Priorities meetings and the schedule, keep on track and don’t allow meeting to wander or mission creep to set in (mission creep is whereby the focus starts to drift and your mission starts to expand to somewhere you don’t want it to go), keep to the agenda and keep the focus on the task at hand.

Traveling can be a great strain on your body, so time management and taking into consideration the time difference, jet lag, tiredness, and quite often coping with tummy problems etc. is essential. You have to make sure to get proper rest, eat and have time factored in for rest days, otherwise the machine will break down.

Discipline, know what you want to achieve, know what your objectives are and know your subject area well. Otherwise you will spend too much time trying to get to grips with the task in hand.

Stay connected, wherever possible, log on to accessible Wi-Fi and Internet, check your webmail often, uses social media platforms to stay in touch with family, friends and colleagues in work, who can alert you if something is happening that needs your attention.

Dresden Germany

Work commenced in Dresden Germany on the February 28th-Feburary - 4th March 2017 hosted by The Pyramid Group and Dresden University of Technology the meeting was the Intermediate Project Management Committee (PMC) Meeting for CBHE Project 561987 Library Network Support Services: modernising libraries in Western Balkan countries through staff development and reforming library services [LNSS] and CBHE Project 561633 Library Network Support Services: modernising libraries in Armenia, Moldova and Belarus through library staff development and reforming libraries [LNSS]

Although both projects are distinct and separate from each other and were awarded separate grants of over €800K, owing to much synergies and similarities between projects, it was decided by the Project Management of both projects to hold the Intermediate Management Meetings together in one location. There is precedent for this in these LNSS projects as for example the Kick Off Meeting for both projects were held together in Brasov, Romania in March 2016.

About the projects, 561987 and 561633

LNSS project 561987 in the Western Balkans and LNSS project 561633 in Armenia, Moldova and Belarus both aim to reinforce and modernise libraries and improve the level of competencies and skills of library staff in Higher Education Institutions and Society by developing innovative libraries as a support to education and lifelong learning.

Both projects also aim to develop a library staff development strategy focused on improving standards and quality of library performance in the Partner countries so as to improve the quality of library services and higher education generally, enhancing their relevance for the labour market and society.

The projects will also enhance the management, governance, innovation capacities and accessibility of libraries in the Partner countries through strategic planning and policy development. The main deliverable of the project will see the design and development of 8 LNSS Curriculum modules featuring a comprehensive, modern suite of Library Staff Development courses covering all aspects of modern library services provision addressing the most urgent library needs in the Partner Countries.

My role in the Projects 561987 and 561633

Limerick Institute of Technology are Coordinator and Grant holder of CBHE project 561987 and I attended this meeting in Dresden in my capacity as Project Leader. As Project Leader I am also Chair of the Project Management Committee (PMC) for the project. The PMC is comprised of senior management and senior level academic and library staff from each Partner University in the project such as Rector’s, Head of Academic Departments and University Librarians.

The main functions of the PMC are to ensure control of the administrative and methodological aspects of the project, to monitor and evaluate project phases including communication regarding expectations of partners and stakeholders and with declared objectives. The PMC is also responsible for intervention for problem solving in the project and for finding solutions to project obstacles and delays should they arise. The Project Management Committee (PMC) is in essence the decision making body of the Consortium, responsible for control of the administrative and methodological aspects of the project and for project monitoring and evaluation.

My role also involves taking the lead on specific project Work Packages in the project. Work Packages are a typical project instrument in EU projects which are used to assign a package of work to a particular partner which are broken down into deliverables with associated deliverable dates.

As an example, in the LNSS Project in Armenia, Moldova and Belarus, on behalf of LIT, I lead the Development Work Package which involves delivering project goals in areas such as English for Specific Purposes, training for Armenian, Moldovan and Belorussian partners in the project,

Preparation of ECTS Module Training programme using EU Tuning Method; LNSS Curriculum Training for PC institutions; Pilot 1 of LNSS Curriculum; Consortium Strategic Planning and implementation of the plan; Library Collection Development Policy, Digital and Electronic Library Strategy.

In both LNSS projects I have responsibility for and lead the Online Module Development Work Package which deals with development of library eLearning content in the form of Online Library Modules.  In project 561987, I also lead the Management Work Package on behalf of LIT which deals with the overall management of the project and project deliverables in that Work package and for ensuring that all Project Work packages and deliverables across the project as a whole are delivered.

My role in CBHE project 561633 is similar to that in project 561697 with the important difference that this project is led by the Public Administration Academy of the Republic of Armenia based in Yerevan, Armenia. As LIT had a large part in writing the winning application for this project and designed the management and financial structure for the project, owing to our deep involvement in the creation and design of the program, I have strong involvement in this project and advise, steer and assist the partner in Yerevan with daily project management and running of the project generally.

 

Cities and Partner Universities represented at the meeting from LNSS Project 561987:

 

Name of Partner City Country
Limerick Institute of Technology (Project Leader) Limerick Ireland
Transylvania University of Brasov Brasov Romania
The Pyramid Group Ulm Germany
University of Crete Rethymno, Crete Greece
Agricultural University of Tirana Tirana Albania
University of Montenegro Podgorica Montenegro
University of Pristina Kosovoska Mitrovica Mitrovica Kosovo under UNSC Resolution 1244/99
University of Prishtina Prishtina Kosovo under UNSC Resolution 1244/99
University of Sarajevo Sarajevo Bosnia and Herzegovina
University of Mostar Mostar Bosnia and Herzegovina
The Cantonal and University Library of Bihać Bihać Bosnia and Herzegovina

 

Cities and Partner Universities represented at the meeting from LNSS Project 561633:

Name of Partner City Country
Public Administration Academy of the Republic of Armenia (Project Leader) Yerevan Armenia
Transylvania University of Brasov Brasov Romania
University of Crete Rethymno, Crete Greece
The Pyramid Group Ulm Germany
Goris State University Goris Armenia
Yerevan Brusov State University of Languages and Social Sciences Yerevan Armenia
Belarussian State University Minsk Belarus
Academy of Public Administration under the aegis of the President of Belarus Minsk Belarus
Yanka  Kupala State University of Grodno Grodno Belarus
Brest State Technical University Brest Belarus
Academy of Public Administration from Moldova Chisinau Moldova
Alecu Russo Balti State University Balti Moldova

 Meeting activities:

Day 1 Wednesday 1st March 2017

In LNSS Project 561987, the Meeting was opened by a representative from German partner in the project- The Pyramid Group who hosted the meeting and who welcomed each representative to the meeting as hosts.

The meeting was held on the campus of Dresden University of Technology as arranged by The Pyramid Group. As Chair of the Project Management Committee for the project and Project Leader, I then proceeded to welcome all participants to the meeting and I delivered a brief update on project progress and which covered future planning and activities in the project.  Following this, as is typical at such EU Capacity Building project meetings-  a representative from each Partner university gave a presentation detailing the progress/achievements to date at this halfway point of the 3-year project and spoke about the team that are involved in their university in delivering project results and their activities since the project commenced.

In LNSS Project 561633, partners from Armenia, Moldova and Belarus presented their LNSS Curriculum Module Descriptions covering such areas as course content lesson plans, student’s materials, Teachers notes and forthcoming plans for Piloting of the 8 LNSS Curriculum modules.

For both LNSS projects, the afternoon meeting sessions were focused on Financial issues such as EU finance rules affecting both projects and items to do with Financial management and reporting, payments to partners, Currency and exchange rates and rates of pay applicable for Travel costs and costs of stay to attend project meetings.

The first day of the meeting closed with the Networking Dinner held in the famous Dresden Neustadt district at Café Max, 65 Louisenstrasse, Dresden.

Day 2 Thursday 2nd March 2017

In both LNSS projects, the morning of the second day of the meeting featured presentations from each partner in the project about their plans for implementing the highly important Library National Awareness Days which will be held in 2017 and 2018 on an agreed day and running for 10 years after.

The Library National Awareness Days are, along with the Online Platform for the project perhaps the most important dissemination tool in the project and will involve active student participation and participation of Universities, National and Public Libraries, Student Unions, Teacher Unions and with the support of the Education Ministries and relevant NGO’s.

The project is particularly keen to involve NGO's which help to foster the rights of people with disabilities to access education with particular focus on library accessibility for people with disabilities. The National Awareness Day will be held twice within the lifetime of the project with a SWOT analysis after the first one. The strategic aim is to target society as a whole in each of the Partner countries in both projects and make the national radio and television and appear in the national print media.

In the afternoon, participants from LNSS project 561987 had the opportunity to engage in Exchange of Experience with partners from the other LNSS project from Armenia, Moldova and Belarus which included visits to the Saxon State and University Library Dresden (SLUB) which is the University Library of Dresden University of Technology and is widely considered a major innovation and coordination center for German and European libraries.

Day 3 Friday 3rd March 2017

In both LNSS projects, the final day of the meeting focussed on the important issue of the Online Platform for the project and the need for all partners to contribute content to the Online Platform such as project publications, photographs of project meetings and training, media coverage about the project, brochures and accounts of dissemination and training events held at the university and abroad.

Both LNSS project meetings ended with discussion on the Library Collection Development process in the project and Library Strategic planning. An important feature of both LNSS projects is that each Western Balkan and Armenian, Moldovan and Belorussian Partner must develop both a Library Collection Development Policy and a Library Strategic Plan for their University library.

The Library Collection Development Policy in particular is a very important component of LNSS project delivery.  For any library- the Collection Development Policy (CDP) is perhaps the most important library policy which supports the library’s primary task of selecting, maintaining, and providing access to relevant and representative information resources for all learners.

Library Collection Development Policies are dealt with in module 8 of the LNSS Curriculum and covers essential CDP elements to develop quality, relevant library services and is important for sustainability in both LNSS projects. 

For the Partners, the Collection Development Policy will serve as a Blueprint and guide for selecting and deselecting (printed and electronic) resources for the Library collection and for sound foundation for future planning, thereby assisting in determining priorities, especially when financial resources are limited.

To finish up our work here, we re-capped on what we had achieved also focused on what the major milestones and deliverables were for the coming months.  Our emphasis was on the deliverables and the timescale left to achieve our objectives giving due consideration to the financial responsibilities we had also to focus on our intermediate report which will be due to the EACEA in the coming weeks.  With our work finished in Dresden it was now time to pack our bags and get ready for our trip to Petrozavodsk in the Russian Federation.

Petrozavodsk, the Russian Federation

We arrived on the 4th of March in Petrozavodsk in the Russian Federation and got ready for our meetings which were from March 5-8th 2017 - hosted by Petrozavodsk State University.

The project is called DIREKT and this was the Project Kick Off Meeting for EU Capacity Building project 574157.  The acronym stands for Developing Trans-regional information literacy for lifelong learning and the knowledge economy [DIREKT].  

The main aim of Kick off Meetings in CBHE projects is to agree procedures for communications between partners, as well as to agree management and decision making structures that will be used throughout the project implementation. This Kick off Meeting in Petrozavodsk was also used to agree procedures and methods for cooperation, project planning and the functions of various Working Groups, Action Groups and Committees of the DIREKT project.

About The DIREKT Project

The DIREKT project aims to further the Bologna Process for a Europe of Knowledge by developing Information Literacy (IL) programs for use in curricula in Higher Education and in Society at large in China, Russian Federation and Kazakhstan. 

The project involves the creation with Librarians and Faculty, of curriculum-integrated IL programs (embedded in the three cycle system (bachelor/master/doctorate), quality assurance and recognition of qualifications for the development of lifelong learning in higher education and in Society at large. These innovative programmes and technologies will benefit all stakeholders such as undergraduate and postgraduate students, Librarians, academic staff, Ministries, National and Public libraries, Local communities, non-academic members and society organisations.

While the DIREKT project and Curriculum is primarily concerned with developing IL and Library skills, the programmes will also feature the module Information Literacy & Academic Writing (module 7) because as is agreed internationally by experts both disciplines are inseparable. As explained well by Kimmins and Stagg (2009) "effective writing and presentation skills are diminished if used to share flawed or incomplete information" hence good academic writing is dependent on the learner achieving a good level of Information Literacy.

My role in the DIREKT project:

As LIT are Coordinator and Grant holder of this project my role in the DIREKT project is not dissimilar to the role I play in the LNSS projects. Similar to LNSS Western Balkans, I am Project Leader of the DIREKT project, and am also Chair of the Project Management Committee (PMC) for the project.

Similar to LNSS, my role also involves taking the lead on specific project work packages in the project. In the DIREKT project I lead the Management Work package which involves formulating the management structures for the project such as the Project Management Committee and the various Working Groups of the project such as Didactic and Scientific Working group (DSWG), Information Literacy Training Working Group (ILTWG), Information Literacy Module Working Group (ILMWG), and the Evaluation Working Group. 

The role also involves day to day management of the DIREKT project as well as the drafting and publishing of DIREKT Project Coordination Reports. As leaders of the Management Work package our main function is to ensure daily project management, to manage finances and to ensure the presence of project structures and organising and running of the various project meetings over the lifetime of the projects and which involve all project partners.

Cities and Partner Universities represented at the meeting from the DIREKT project:

Name of Partner City Country
Limerick Institute of Technology Limerick Ireland
Dresden University of Technology Dresden Germany
Constantine the Philosopher University of Nitra Nitra Slovakia
Paul Francis East representing The Pyramid Group Ulm Germany
Ogarev Mordovia State University Saransk Russia
Far Eastern Federal University Vladivostok Russia
Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University Kaliningrad Russia
Petrozavodsk State University Petrozavodsk Russia
NP NEICON Saint Petersburg Russia
Republican State Enterprise operating under the right of economic management A.Baitursynov Kostanay State University Kostanay Kazakhstan
Al-Farabi Kazakh National University Almaty Kazakhstan
 S. Seifullin Kazakh Agro Technical  University Astana Kazakhstan
Beijing Institute of Technology Beijing China
Northwestern Polytechnical University XI AN China
Nanjing University of Science and Technology Nanjing China

 

Meeting activities

Day 1 Monday 6th March 2017-

The meeting commenced with opening of the meeting and welcome from Petrozavodsk State University. As Project Leader of the DIREKT project, I then proceeded to welcome the Partner representatives to the meeting.

Following this there was a brief introduction from the other EU partner representatives taking part in the meeting- from Dresden University of Technology, Germany, Constantine the Philosopher University of Nitra, Slovakia and The Pyramid Group, Germany who presented their university, their role within the project and presented the team who would be involved in the project and the roles of the team members.

Later each Russian, Kazakh and Chinese partner in the project then presented about their university and their role in the project and including the personnel from their University that would be involved in project implementation.

During the sessions we presented the Detailed Description of the project and highlighted the leaders of the various work packages of the project.

 Participants also had the opportunity to tour Petrozavodsk State University Library Facilities and Petrozavodsk State University to enable exchange of experience which was followed by a Networking Dinner which was held in a Restaurant nearby to the University.

 Day 2 Tuesday 7th March 2017

The second day of the DIREKT Kick off Meeting focused on Financial issues as Coordinator of the project we explained the Financial rules of CBHE projects to participants and the EU Guidelines for use of the Grant.  The meeting also focused more on Work packages, deliverables and important milestones including the following key aspects:

  • Preparation Work package - Training needs detection/Strategic Review of IL survey
  • English for Specific Purposes (ESP) Training
  • DIREKT Curriculum Training
  • Observation /Master Classes/Evaluation
  • Development of online IL modules
  • Dissemination workshops
  • Quality Assurance reports and Evaluations
  • Mass media Campaign - National IL Awareness Days

Administrative matters were also discussed such as Partnership Agreements between LIT and the Partner universities, requirements for the Intermediate and final reporting to the EACEA, logos and letterhead to be used for official documents and means for disseminating about the project are also important issues which need to be addresses at this stage in the project.

Other items which needed to be addressed during the meeting included the preparation of the training and general needs detection survey- the DIREKT Survey for training needs, plans for implementing the DIREKT Curriculum training to be held in Limerick, in Autumn 2017.

The process for developing online modules in the project was also dealt with as well as Dissemination and exploitation in the project and particularly the roll out of the Mass Media Campaign in the form of National Information Literacy Awareness Days, the first of which will be held in 2018 and continuing on for 10 years.

Arrangements for the design of the DIREKT Online Platform and population of the Platform with appropriate content was also discussed.

Overall these were busy days, full agendas however we were clear in our schedule and participants were clear of the milestones and objectives going forward so it was time to pack again, switch hats and head off to the airport, next stop Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam.

 

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

I arrived on the 10th of March and had some EU Partner meeting with the steering committees in preparation for the main event which took place on March 12th-17th 2017 Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam- hosted by Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology and Education (HCMUTE)

 About CATALYST Project 573873

The acronym for this project is CATALYST, Communicative Approaches in University Vocational Teaching Methodology focusing on Improving Educational Yield and Sustainability (CATALYST) and this was the Project Kick Off Meeting for EU Capacity Building project 573873.

The specific objective of CATALYST is the development and implementation of a comprehensive pedagogical Core Curricula using an ECTS/Tuning Modular design for university vocational teaching for Vietnam and Laos.

 My role in the CATALYST project:

In the CATALYST project which is led by University Polytechnic of Bucharest (UPB), Romania, my role is different to that in the LNSS and DIREKT projects. Whereas LNSS and DIREKT are projects which are firmly focused on developing libraries and information literacy, in contract CATALYST is aimed broadly at developing a comprehensive core curriculum for university vocational teaching in Vietnam and Laos.

Hence rather than being a library project specifically focused on library modernisation and library development, CATALYST is about developing vocational education but which has a library and information literacy element built in as one of its core modules.

In the CATALYST project, LIT have been assigned to the Dissemination and Exploitation Work package and we will also design and deliver Module 3 of the CATALYST curriculum which deals with: Innovation methodology in vocational teaching and learning (including the use of the internet/library/media centre for lesson development and implementation).

We will also contribute to the design and delivery of all the other nine CATALYST modules in the project using our project experience in areas such as ICT/Blended/E-Learning based learning and English for Specific Purposes (ESP).

Cities and Partner Universities represented at the meeting from the CATALYST project:

Name of Partner City Country
University Politehnica of Bucharest  Bucharest Romania
Dresden University of Technology Dresden Germany
Paul Francis East representing The Pyramid Group Ulm Germany
Edge Hill University Ormskirk United Kingdom
Limerick Institute of Technology  Limerick Ireland
Ho Chi Minh University of Technical Education  Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology  Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam
Hanoi University of Science and Technology Hanoi Vietnam
The University of Languages and International Studies Hanoi Vietnam
Hung Yen University of Technology and Education Hung Yen Vietnam
Vinh University of Technical Education Vinh City Vietnam
National University of Laos  Vientiane Laos
University of Health Sciences Vientiane Laos

 

Meeting activities

Day 1 Monday 13th March 2017

The opening address and welcome for the meeting was given by the President of Ho Chi Minh University of Technology and Education (HCMUTE). CBHE Project Leader Elisabeth Lazarou from University Politehnica of Bucharest also welcomed participants to the meeting and gave an introduction to CBHE project 573873 after which there were brief introductions from other EU representatives from The Pyramid Group, Edge Hill University and Limerick Institute of Technology.

Representatives from Each Vietnamese and Laotian partner then delivered a short presentation outlining their role within the CATALYST project and outlined their individual needs at their university in the context of the project. Each partner also presented the project team who would be involved in the project and specified the roles of each member of the project team and a detailed description of the project and project work packages by EU partners

 Day 2 Tuesday 14th March

Day 2 opened with an outline of Finances and budget including financial rules for CBHE project 573873 delivered by Elisabeth Lazarou of University Politehnica of Bucharest with our inputs from LIT. 

Over the course of day two sessions dealt with Deliverables in the CATALYST project as outlined in the Work plan- this session was delivered by EU partners from Dresden University of Technology, Edge Hill University and by ourselves in LIT and covered the following the following topics:

  • English for Specific Purposes (ESP) Training
  • CATALYST curriculum training
  • Observation /Master Classes/Evaluation
  • Dissemination workshops
  • QA reports and Evaluations
  • Mass media Campaign

Various other administrative matters were dealt with such as Consortium Agreements between partners, Intermediate and Final Reporting to the EACEA, as well as logo and letterheads to be used in the project.

 Day 3 Wednesday 15th March 2017

 Sessions featured individual Q & A meetings between EU and Vietnamese and Laotian partners which was followed by a Workshop with 20 students and delegates from EU countries in order to disseminate needs. These were followed by some social and cultural events enabling exchange of experience- a Campus Tour of the University including library facilities.

Day 4 Thursday 16th March 2017

Featured Course Training content for the CATALYST project focussed on the area of Quality Assurance and delivered by Dr. David Allan and Dr. Fiona Hallett of Edge Hill University, United Kingdom. This was followed by more course training content and discussion, feedback and questions.

Day 5 Friday 17th March 2017

The final day of the kick off meeting for the CATALYST project dealt with the future Action plan for the project where participants discussed future meetings in the project and a list of actions to be completed before the next project meeting.

This concluded our work in Ho Chi Minh and our travels and work were nearing an end.

 

As mentioned earlier in this post, what I wanted to do was to give you some insight into what the events are like been a project leader and involved in EU Projects. The work is interesting, the travel is extensive and the hours are long……very long. 

Getting involved in this type of work requires a complex number of skills which you won’t find on any University course that I know of. Most of what is involved requires good listening skills, openness, trust, goodwill, a sense of humor and a great degree of tolerance and respect for different cultures, traditions and values. Finally, what is needed is you have to be a believer, you have to sincerely believe what you’re doing will make a difference to the people, the students, teachers and the organisations you are working with, otherwise it would be difficult to do this job.

This is the day to day stuff, which everyone involved in EU project do.  We design, implement and guide projects such as I mentioned, from their infancy to their conclusion over the period of about 3 years. What happens during this timescale is the responsibility of the project manager, the projects coordinator and the project partners?

But what happens afterwards? Who measures what effect the project had? Did it change things? Did it make a difference? Did it help with the “Capacity Building” of the people it came into contact with? Did it effect the regions or the country or society? These are the questions my research will address, basically did the project have an effect, how and who did it effect and how can this be measured. 

The questions are the easy bit, the answer a bit more complex.  I like this quote it’s from the writer Salman Rushdie

“One of the things a writer is for, is to say the unsayable, speak the unspeakable and ask difficult questions”

Thanks for reading, if you have any comments please feel free to ask a question…

2 thoughts on “A day in the life ?

  1. lyn

    This is a lovely piece of writing, which offers insight into the activities undertaken by those involved with EU, and indeed other international, projects. I agree, it is hard work, but the rewards of travel, discovery, great colleagues, and the chance to make a difference are paramount.

    I especially like your observations on the skills needed for this type of project work:

    ‘.. good listening skills, openness, trust, goodwill, a sense of humor and a great degree of tolerance and respect for different cultures, traditions and values. Finally, what is needed is you have to be a believer, you have to sincerely believe what you’re doing will make a difference to the people, the students, teachers and the organisations you are working with ..’

    Your enthusiasm and disciplinary talent shine through in this post Jerald! I think this skillset is fundamental to much of the work we undertake in today’s environment. It is certainly a set of skills that I will shamelessly borrow, as qualities to recommend for everyone who is a part of CityLIS!

    The observations about the places you have visited (this was a marathon trip!) are engaging, and together with the photos tell a wonderful story.

    The detailed descriptions of meetings, activities and responsibilities which project work demands, form one of the few accounts I have read about how this kind of work gets done. The effort and hours required often go unsung. We are all under enormous pressure to ‘get project funding’, but rarely is any accolade offered for the time, energy, and significant personal resources (time, money) that go into carrying out the work once the grant has been secured.

    It is not just the professional knowledge and academic abilities that are needed, travelling, as you rightly point out, is demaning physically and mentally, and resilience and rest are essential if creativity and intellect are to be maintained as we encounter different environments.

    Additionally, we should note that the time management activities you describe require a high level of technical competence. Project work is not for the fainthearted, and yet, the skills needed are rarely talked about, as you say.

    Perhaps though, the most significant aspect of this writing, is that it provides the context to your clear and plausible research focus:

    ‘How do EU Erasmus + Capacity Building Projects in Higher Education impact on society and how can this be measured?’

    And further, you draw out the research questions which need to be answered to do this:

    ‘But what happens afterwards? Who measures what effect the project had? Did it change things? Did it make a difference? Did it help with the “Capacity Building” of the people it came into contact with? Did it effect the regions or the country or society? These are the questions my research will address, basically did the project have an effect, how and who did it effect and how can this be measured.’

    Your writing stands as a highly readable record of the thought processes contributing to the refinment and progress of your topic. I am a great advocate of this kind of reflection, and I hope others will benefit from reading this. The PhD is much like travelling; the point is the journey.

    :-)

    Reply
    1. david bawden

      Yes, this excellent post is a very valuable dose of realism, in a good way, for anyone who is told they should ‘get involved in more projects’, and thinks that this will be an enjoyable and not-too-arduous sideline

      Reply

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