The “Media literacy for refugee youth” international project started in 2017 and its aim was to understand how unaccompanied minor refugees use digital technologies and social media. For this, the principal investigator of the project, Dr Annamária Neag, with the support of her mentor, Dr Richard Berger, carried out field work in Sweden, the Netherlands, Italy and the UK. A total of 56 unaccompanied refugee kids were interviewed, and some of them also took part in a digital ethnography phase. Moreover, in London, a group of young people joined the participatory action research phase of the research.
Although the first aim was to understand how these young people use smart phones and social media, the final goal was to create media education materials that can aid their integration into a new society. For understanding the young people’s media lives, Dr Neag also interviewed mentors, guardians and educators who helped her in how to shape these educational materials.
Based on the research findings, the team decided that the best course of action was to create an app that could aid the work of mentors and social workers who look after unaccompanied refugee children. With the help of Kyle Goslan, from Bournemouth University, this app is now freely available for iPhones from the AppStore. Those interested in the app should only do a quick search for Mentor + Media on the AppStore and install it from there.
In recent years it has become ever more important to ‘translate’ research findings to people outside academia. While writing blog posts or giving interviews is fairly common, illustrating research is not so much. However, there have been some very interesting projects that trialled this artistic method, and their success led Dr Annamária Neag to contact a Hungarian illustrator, Kata Tóth, to try out this new way at looking at academic research. Their acquaintance is not new, as the artists helped Dr. Neag create a board game to use as a tool for interviewing unaccompanied refugee youth.
The collaboration lasted a couple of months and it involved a very engaged discussion about what and how to represent the two-year long “Media literacy for refugee youth” project. This discussion helped clarify the most important aspects of the research, but it was also relevant to see how someone not involved in academic research sees the relevance of the findings.
Illustration by Kata Tóth
With more than 60 research participants (unaccompanied youth and mentors/educators), it was not an easy task to select just one story to illustrate. That is why, after much thinking and debate, Kata Tóth and Dr Neag decided to work with the metaphor of the digital labyrinth. This metaphor best exemplifies the journey young refugees need to take upon arriving in Europe and starting a new life here. Although the graphic novel presents the story of a 17-year-old girl from Eritrea, Senait, she is a fictional character. Her difficulties in getting settled in a new country and a new digital world, as well as her skills and strengths are representations of those of the young people Dr Neag interviewed during the project.
Illustration by Kata Tóth
Although it is not always easy to ‘translate’ research into a whole different medium, graphically representing academic projects can be fulfilling both professionally and personally. This endeavor can help in distilling the most important findings of your research and it can be a starting point for discussions with young people, students or anyone interested in social science research.
Further information: Finding a Way through the Digital Labyrinth is available from: https://issuu.com/blueanna/docs/illustration_final1
Kata Tóth is a freelance illustrator living in Budapest, Hungary: https://www.behance.net/katatoth
Dr Chris Stantis from the Faculty of Science and Technology recently attended an international workshop sponsored by the British Council, ‘Archaeology and Cultural Geography of Arctic and Subarctic Coastal Regions,’ AKA ‘Arctic Coasts.’ As part of the British Council Researcher Links Programme, Arctic Coasts provided opportunities for researchers focusing on this part of the world to interact and explore long-term collaboration in the beautiful region of Arkhangelsk. The Arctic often holds well-preserved archaeological material due to the cold temperatures, but climate change necessitates a timely spotlight on these sites as archaeological deposits are lost at an alarming rate due to issues such as melting permafrost and rising sea-levels.
In addition to special guests who were established leaders in the Arctic, this workshop supported the participation of 24 early-career researchers working out of Britain and Russia. Dr Stantis contributed to the workshop as an early-career researcher who focuses on bioarchaeology, the study of human remains from archaeological contexts.
The Arctic Coasts workshop gave ample opportunity for the participants to learn about each other and each other’s work in the beautiful city of Arkhangelsk, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Solovetsky Islands, and the seventeen hour train-and-ferry journey in between. Introductory presentations showed a variety of researchers had attended the workshop: not only archaeologists, but museum curators, folklorists, and cultural anthropologists focusing on heritage adaptation. Multiple contacts were made by Dr Stantis that will hopefully establish long-term collaboration in the future.
Are you interested in achieving policy impact? Then you may be interested in coming to a meeting that’s taking place next Thursday which will provide some useful insights into how to go about achieving this.
As you’re aware, engaging with policy makers can lead to significant and lasting impact. In order to explore this area in more depth, Professor Sangeeta Khorana has invited the Rt. Hon Stephen Crabb MP to BU to discuss how academic research is accessed by policy makers, how it can be used by those in Parliament and how it can lead to influencing policy.
Stephen is Member of Parliament for Preseli, Pembrokeshire and has held this constituency since 2005. He is a member of the Select Committee for Exiting the European Union, was previously Secretary of State for the Dept. of Work and Pensions, Secretary of State for Wales and a Government Whip. Stephen is therefore ideally placed to give some insights into how academic research is accessed and used by policy makers at the highest levels of government.
Professor Khorana has recently contributed economic research into the trade implications of Brexit to the Welsh Assembly and to the Welsh Affairs Committee.
Stephen will give a short talk on how to engage with policy makers, how they access and use research and how it can influence policy before a Q&A with Sangeeta about the impact of her work.
The event is taking place on Thursday 16th May at 11.30 – 12.30 in EB708.
If you would like to attend, please book a place using the following (private) Eventbrite link and enter the password Impact when prompted:
If you would like to contribute to the discussion, please email questions for Stephen or Sangeeta to: firstname.lastname@example.org in advance.
Many thanks – hope to see you there.