As the 2009 Pardee Summer Graduate Fellowships came to a successful end the first week of August, the seven Fellows – all Boston University graduate students – say they found the interdisciplinary aspect of program and the Pardee Center itself to be very valuable.
“Being surrounded by Fellows from different disciplines truly enriched my summer experience,” said Keren Shani, a master’s student at the School of Public Health and one of the 2009 Pardee Center Summer Fellows. “I felt like the program was a constant learning experience, from my individual research to group dialogues to the Pardee seminars.”
The 10-week long program brought together Boston University graduate students from different schools and departments for a structured program of inter-disciplinary research on a variety of issues related to longer-range futures of global development. The key defining theme for the 2009 Summer Fellowship program was Africa. The Fellowship program allowed the fellows time and resources to undertake their own research and also a number of opportunities to interact with each other and with BU faculty on issues related to the substance and process of doing interdisciplinary research.
The 2009 Pardee Summer Graduate Fellows were selected in April from a highly competitive pool of 50 candidates from across the university. The seven came from the BU departments of anthropology, economics, international relations, geography and environment, and public health. The program began on June 1, when the Fellows arrived at the Pardee House and began their summer research projects. Each Fellow is completing a paper that will be considered for publication as part of the Center’s publication program in the coming academic year. The Summer Fellows were joined by other summer researchers at Pardee House.
During the time they worked at the Pardee House, the Summer Fellows met with faculty members over informal lunches and discussed topics ranging from career paths and the changing methods of academic research in the internet age to how governance issues affect public health and development opportunities in Africa. They also attended Pardee House Seminars held in June and July on the topics of “Governance and Sustainability” and “Science, Diplomacy and Development” respectively.
In addition, the Fellows gave presentations on their research to the other Summer Fellows, resident Pardee Research Fellows and Pardee Center staff, who provided feedback about the key research questions and methods. Many informal discussions and exchanges of information among the Fellows helped shape the direction of their research, as well as individual research meeting each had with Pardee Center Director Professor Adil Najam. Many of the Fellows also worked closely with their own departmental advisors and mentors to finalize research projects that are part of larger research initiatives being undertaken at various parts of Boston University.
“[The Pardee Summer Fellows program] allowed me to be part of an interdisciplinary and international research cohort of BU graduate students with a common interest in applying academic skills to make sense of global issues that impact us all,” said Arianna Fogelman, a doctoral candidate in anthropology. “It was a stimulating atmosphere in which to pursue independent research.”
Pardee Center Director, Prof. Adil Najam, considers the program to have been a great success. He adds: “I think the Fellows added a tremendous amount of energy as well as inter-disciplinary expertise to each others’ work and also to the Center. Having a buzzing research center throughout the summer was a good feeling and it was very fulfilling to see bright young people from Anthropology, Economics, International Relations, Public Health, Geography, etc. not just working together but learning from each other, and learning to appreciate how different disciplines can inform as well influence how we think about the great challenges of our times.”
The Center plans to continue with the Summer Fellowship program in 2010.