Professor Kay Mohanna’s Australian Collaboration

Griffith University, in Queensland, Australia, recently welcomed Kay Mohanna, Professor of Values based Healthcare Education at the University of Worcester.

Professor Mohanna visited the Griffith Institute for Educational Research on 24 February 2020 to begin consolidating plans for a collaborative, inter-disciplinary project with Dr Jeanne Allen, Associate Professor of Teacher Education, and a team of Griffith researchers. Kay and Jeanne also met with Dr Leonie Rowan, acting Director of the Griffiths Institute and Associate Professor of Education, to discuss the project, which will be framed within the politics of belonging and investigate the development of a sense of belonging and professional identity among the increasingly mobile student population in higher education.

Dr Allen is a co-editor of the Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, which publishes research that advances knowledge in teacher education across early childhood, primary, secondary, vocational education and training, and higher education. Her work with Kay builds on their previous research on students’ expectations and experiences in internationalised and globalised higher education (Kay is on the editorial board for Education for Primary Care, which aims to support the implementation of best-evidence medical education relevant to primary care). Their previous work includes a 2013 article in Educational Theory and Practice.

Through this link with the Griffith Institute for Educational Research, Professor Mohanna is working with is one of the largest concentrations of university-based education researchers in Australia. It comprises a vibrant community of scholars whose applied research with industry partners, education systems, schools, community and not-for-profit organisations is done with the aim of translating it into practice. The Institute has identified key research foci that include, but are not limited to, leadership, living with autism, and professional and practice-based learning. It identifies Research Programs based on evidence of current, successful research, led by five esteemed senior researchers who are also mindful of new intellectual projects that can drive their endeavours to the next level of productivity and reputation.

Initially this collaboration will carry out a scoping review of the literature. This will look at the implications of the globalized movement of people, ideas and capital including how international students navigate multiple types of borders in ways that can exacerbate their experiences of marginalization and development of belongingness.

A World Increasingly United by Growing Divides – Time for New Partnership Responses?

Gareth Dart

Earlier this semester I attended a conference exploring issues of disability in southern Africa, held at the University of Botswana in the capital, Gaborone. Having spent nearly a decade working in the country but not having revisited for the last eight years I was intrigued to see what might have changed. An issue that was a reinforced through my visit is that it is becoming more and more difficult to talk about differences in wealth and development (and let’s leave aside for now exactly what we mean by that…) in general terms between countries, but rather we need to be far more aware of nuances both between and within.

The new conference centre (complete with soon-to-be-opened hotel) at the University of Botswana makes our conference facilities appear charmingly retro: beautiful main auditorium, lots of well-furnished break out rooms, excellent catering facilities etc. Friends and former colleagues all seemed to be driving cars twice the size and much newer than I could aspire to, sitting in air conditioned comfort in traffic jams twice as long as I recall them being, even though there appear to be twice as many roads as I remember. Presumably all that extra fuel burning up while people get nowhere slowly is doing wonders for the country’s GDP.

Visits to two large villages that I know well provided a counter-story. In one, a friend who is a tailor continues to live a day to day existence in competition with the flood of cheap Chinese imports, sold from small shops run by Chinese migrants. In the other, a College of Education, my former work place, already in decline by the time I left has further decayed in terms of its fabric and role, a stark contrast to the gleaming new buildings popping up all over the University some 50km away. I popped my head into my old office, still the base for the Special Education team, and found an old handout of mine lying on one of the desks. “We have new material too!” the current occupant was keen to point out.

The other evening there was an item on the news about Hartlepool and the impact of the introduction of Universal Credit. What struck me was the paucity of cars in the streets. It looked like photographs that one sees from the 1950s  and is presumably (though any geographer reading this might want to put me right) an indication of poverty rather than an urge to live a greener, more sustainable lifestyle. The richer elements of Botswana are looking very much like our richer elements and the poorer parts of Britain are starting to look more like the poorer parts of Botswana. Though given the respective climates I think I know where I might prefer to lead a life of poverty if I ever have to.

A question for us as academics and practitioners interested in working in partnership in such contexts is what this emerging, more finely nuanced reality might mean for us. I wonder if we need to think about more equal partnerships where we work on mutually compatible problems: let’s explore what poverty means and how we might ameliorate its impact in peri-urban Botswana and Hartlepool: what does a rural Botswanan school’s attitude to including children from the whole village have to say to us in rural Hereford? We are now used to the need to demonstrate ‘impact’ and work ethically. Perhaps both those notions are due for a shift or broadening of focus.


Gareth Dart is Senior Lecturer in Education, University of Worcester.