I am attending Nordic Geographers’ Meeting #NGM2017

On Sunday, I’ll be in Stockholm for the 7th Nordic Geographers’ Meeting. I am excited to be presenting my work to a completely new audience – geographers, and a wider audience of social scientists – as I usually meet with Africa scholars or Migration scholars. The theme is “geographies of inequalities” which is almost a perfect topic to capture student migration out of the global South.

At the meeting, I hope to:

  • get some new ideas on how to take my work to the next level (Where do I publish?  What are others doing on students and migration?) and
  • pick up some clues on how I continue to do relevant interdisciplinary research. (What methods should I use?  Who can I collaborate with? Who else is interested in my work?)

I’ll be presenting two papers out of my dissertation research for the following two panels:

Session A3: Youth and Inequality: Perceptions, experiences, and aspirations. (PDF details)

Conveners: Prof. Katherine Gough of Loughborough University and Dr. Thilde Langevang of Copenhagen Business School.

Session description
Rising unemployment and sluggish economic growth are widely predicted to further widen income and wealth inequality worldwide. Young people, in particular, are being disproportionately affected with the OECD claiming that youth have replaced the elderly as the group experiencing the greatest risk of income poverty. This has widespread implications for the opportunities and constraints young people face as well as impacting on their aspirations for the future.This session will bring together papers which explore how young people’s lives and aspirations are being influenced by the inequality they experience and imagine both in situ and in faraway places. Papers are welcome from societies across the globe where young people are being affected by real or perceived high levels of inequality. Topics which may be explored in the session include, but are not restricted to, the implications of rising inequality at a range of scales for young people’ perceptions, experiences and aspirations of: Mobility and immobility /Education and skills training/ Work experiences and job prospects/Housing and home

Here my paper “Migration aspirations among university students in Ghana” will discuss my choices to focus on university students and not youth in general as well as aspirations and intentions and not migration per se . I also will share some results from the survey I did with university students in Ghana, in particular looking at social backgrounds of students and their view of migration. (20/6/17 1.15-3.00 pm. Room: William Olsson, House Y)

Session J7: The Politics of Movement. (PDF details)

Conveners: Dr. Nancy Cook & Prof. David Butz, Brock University.

Session description
The politics of movement  entanglements of power, social inequality and mobilities – is an abiding preoccupation in social geography and critical mobilities studies. Both scholarly fields identify mobility as a fundamental structuring dimension of social life. They also demonstrate that the capacity for movement under conditions of one’s choosing is a valuable resource that is unequally distributed in social contexts structured by hierarchies of power. In other words, movement is socially differentiated; it reflects and reinforces structures of power to configure inequitable social hierarchies. Critical geographers and mobility scholars are tracing the ways in which relations of gender, race, class, sexuality and citizenship shape discourses and practices of mobility that produce beneficial movement for some people and too little or too much movement for others.

For this session, I will discuss some thoughts around what a global South student really is in relation to mobility in my paper “Conceptualizing academic mobility and mobility exclusions from a global South student perspective”. Based on the data I collected for my dissertation research I will suggest some trends in the politics of movement from a student point of view. (19/6/17 at 5.15-6.45 pm in Room: U26, House U)

I am also looking forward to keynotes, especially with Dr. Brenda S.A. Yeoh who has a distinct global South perspective in her work and meeting new friends – and at least one old! I want to thank my good friend Michael Boampong who sent me the initial info on this conference, and who is also attending the conference as well as and my department at Ashesi University which made this trip possible.

Hope to meet you at #NGM2017!

Dissertation Completed!

 After eight years with this topic, five years at University of Ghana, countless notebooks, redrafts, and seminars, my manuscript is now finished, printed and submitted!
The feeling is indescribable.

  
    

 

My Only New Year’s Resolution 2015

…is finishing my PhD.

photo5 years in, two kids later, one pending extension of program, 100s of pages written and 1000s of articles read – this madness must stop so I can summarise what I have learned and move on to other projects.

This year it is therefore happening: I will submit my dissertation! And I am telling everybody! My family, my boss, my friends, now you!

You can help me by asking how it goes, offering to entertain my children and please just stop giving me “interesting stuff” to read.

I will be chronicling my progress weekly over at the blog for my research website Student Migration Aspirations.

What resolution have you made for the new year?

Read some other academic new year’s resolutions.

One Month At the Nordic Africa Institute in Uppsala, Sweden

Today was my first day as a guest researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute in Uppsala, Sweden. I have been given the opportunity to stay for a month and will be spending the time writing on and thinking about my dissertation.

My first day was great and hoping to get a lot done!

20140526-213707-77827560.jpg

20140526-213707-77827058.jpg

In the first photo the NAI Director and administrator with my PhD colleagues in the park just outside our building, the second photo an interior snap shot from the lunch room!

Research Update – Winning Choices or Hacks for PhD Productivity

Research collage

As readers of this blog knows well, I am a PhD candidate with the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana currently doing my data collection for my dissertation. My research moves very slowly, but this semester, I can see I have gotten over the “what is it really that I am doing?”-stage and entered “this is what I am doing!”-stage of my research degree. The feeling is swell. Some of the winning choices I have made this year includes:

  1. taken help from research assistants Ibrahim and Esther (and maybe Seth). They need to learn about the research process, I need admin help. They could use some extra cash, I could use some more hours in my week. Win-win.
  2. spent many more hours in the UG Balme Library as graduate students now have a lovely Research Commons there. The space is just so beautiful, I am collecting for a photo post on the sublime building that is Balme library.
  3. transferred my research library onto Zotero (finally! it took me three full days and it is not 100% yet, but just going through my readings was useful!)
  4. thinking about my research every day. In the car, the first 30 minutes in my office in the morning or after dinner. Solutions only come after much thinking.
  5. grabbed every opportunity to publish or present. I decided to do this as the main purpose of doing a PhD is to learn the craft of research, however when feeling slightly overwhelmed with just your regular work – extra stuff seems…crazy! But it is not, in new constellations, be it with conference participants, abstract reviewers or a taxi driver, I have learned more about the craft.

What good choices have you made in your career this year?

 

 

Research Friday and Ghana Style Gagnam Style (Azonto)

Today, I am all about research. Finally! This semester, it has been more than difficult to find the time to sit down and read, write and theorize due to everything else I am doing, like teaching and Frontlining. But today, it is happening.

I have already had two cups of coffee (the second one as ice coffee as its already hot out).

I have sorted all my research related papers in five piles: unread articles and reports, read – but not incorporated, African studies research not directly related to my dissertation, teaching related research and my own drafts of conference papers, timelines and dissertation chapters.

I have realized its been so long since I worked on my documents I don’t even know what version is the latest! The one in Dropbox? In my computer PhD folder? In my email? On Google Drive? Arggghh.

But then I was sidetracked and found this cute Ghanaian version of Psy’s Gagnam style:  Cp3 Ghana style (She likes Ghana style) ripe with Azonto dancing, sleek Accra vistas and gorgeous people in slim jeans and everything was alright again.

Enjoy!

Guest Post by Kweku Ananse: How To Become an Employable PhD Graduate

Last week, Kwaku Ananse wrote a guest post about problematic supervisors. A main problem,he concluded is  misguided advice suggesting you focus only on your dissertation:

In our times, employers want graduates with experience, widely interpreted either as teaching, research experience as evident in a publication, or both.

This reality brings me to the issue of taking initiative outside the normal routines of the graduate program.

1.One is to visit the personal websites of other graduate students in other universities who are in the same discipline as you are.Know what these students are doing in terms of the conferences they attend, the types of publications they have (and the journals they have published in etc). Being on top of these things should alert you to what your competitors are up to.

2. Another thing outside the graduate comfort zone is to test your ideas by sending cold emails to perhaps established leading scholars in the field to give you feedback regarding your use of their analytical ideas (Here, I have to say I am hesitant with important but emerging scholars). You are not always guaranteed a response but you might be surprised how some of these scholars are interested to help young intellectuals with feedback and suggestions of recent literature. These people can be your pool of what Kajsa refers to as “informal supervisors” (see her post ‘Informal Supervisors: Surviving Ph.D‘) who can be both local (in other departments in your school as well as in your program) and as well as international.

3. One important thing to note in a graduate school is not to see yourself as incapable of publishing in leading journals in your field.

  • Read such journals and note what the leading debates are.
  • Examine such debates side by side your current research.
  • When you see a contribution that perhaps a facet of your research can make to such debates, ‘be bold’ (as they say in GH-politics) and write an article and send it out.

Several things can happen with such an approach: the paper might be rejected (and good reviewers will give you details as why the paper was rejected); paper accepted (but with some revision,either substantial or minor). Whatever the case, the plus side of taking such an initiative is that you have begun a process that is going to be part of your academic life.

This guest post is written by fellow graduate student Kwaku Ananse, one of my readers.

 

Informal Supervisors : Surviving a PhD

I cannot stress enough that you need more people than the one(s) on your panel if to succeed with your  PhD – well this is what I think, anyways, halfway into the project. Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting up with three of my informal supervisors.

Ironically, the meeting I had scheduled with my official supervisor was cancelled as I missed our deadline last week. These are the three types of supervisors I have managed to get for myself totally outside the structures of  the university.

1. The Mentor

Here is a person who knows university politics, who remembers what it was like being in your too large PhD shoes and always shows support interspersed with some practical advice.

Will ask you: How are you?

2. The Senior Researcher

The Senior researcher has seen it all before and will suggest you look at the bigger picture, read the classics and start planning for the next step of your career.

Will ask you: What are your main variables?

3. The Visionary

The visionary points you to interdisciplinary related readings that you didn’t know existed, briefs you about the newest methods on the block with a YouTube video and asks some uncomfortable questions about your work.

Will ask you: Have you read Spivak?

Ideally, I think the culture of the academy starts and begins with sharing information, roadmaps and ideas, however I am still amazed at the generosity at which my informal supervisors have approached and challenged my work. If you read this, thank you!

 

 

Free and Open Source Software for Academics

This afternoon, I went to an inspiring lecture by Joshua Kwesi Aikins as a part of a two-day lecture series for graduate students at Institute of African Studies at University of Ghana. These were some of the free and open source softwares that were recommended. I have ordered them in what I feel is the order of importance to my research endeavor.

1. Zotero. Keep all you references handy. Add more by “harvesting” bibliographic info from websites (like Amazon, Google Scholar etc.). Insert references into any document and by the click of a button add bibliography or change referencing format. Just as all open source software, there is plenty of information online on how to get started, see for instance this Zotero guide. Amazing!

2. LimeSurvey. A free tool you can use to create online surveys (they can also easily be printed). The basic results are immediately visible, and if you want to do regressions etc. LimeSurvey exports to the most common statistics programs (also as free and open software). Fantastic!

3.RQDA. A software that enhances and facilitates qualitative research.  RQDA lets you work with text documents (for instance transcribed interviews) and code them. Then you can sort your coded text fragments and analyze or even make a quantitative analysis of them. Wonderful!

These were just a few of those mentioned, but on my top list to download (I am already using Zotero).

Update: The Academic Productivity blog has more software tips.

What free and open softwares would you add to the list?

Procrastinating Progress

Today was supposed to be the first day this year devoted to research. Between breakfast, laundry, Facebook,  a few old Grey’s Anatomy episodes, fixing my car and lunch not very much has been done. Sunny Saturday and I am sitting inside.

But I have to get a grip, ‘cos if I do, my husband will take me walking on the beach tomorrow morning. So I try to visualize that walk with a clean conscious and seawater on my feet and it feels good.