In 2017, two scientists travelling in Nepal were hosted by the medical association “Ear Care Nepal”. These researchers were invited to give seminars in public schools where the medical association was doing regular check-ups. And with that, an idea was born. Science doesn’t see borders, so neither should lecturers… This is how the “Lecturers without borders” project was founded.
Expanding across borders
The goal was clear: to feed the curiosity of the children and to broaden their perspectives on science and the world. Thanks to the local medical association, which was already screening children from these public schools, it was easy to start organising lectures for those same children.
The idea spread quickly. Soon, other researchers from a variety of projects and countries joined the “Lecturers without borders” network. Researchers from an Indonesian–German project were organising biodiversity workshops in schools near Jakarta. Scientists from France, Germany, Greece, India, Russia, Switzerland and Uruguay joined the mission as well, facilitating the organisation of lectures by travelling scientists in schools.
While science was connecting people across borders, a website helped facilitate the project. With useful information, exchange materials and testimonials from researchers who have participated, it is a useful resource for anyone who is interested or wants to join themselves. This has shown to be especially of interest for researchers involved in long-term international research projects, such as Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions fellows, enabling them to present multiple outreach lectures in local schools.
Among those researchers, MCAA alumni from the Learning about Interacting Networks in Climate (LINC) project joined the “Lecturers without borders” project in 2017: Liubov Tupikina, Delphine Zemp, Athanasia Nikolau, Alexis Tantet, Cristina Masoller, Mikhail Khotyakov, Samat Galimov, Valentina Nikolaeva, Ilya Galanov and Ilya Zakharov. In 2019, more researchers followed from the MCAA French and African Chapters. The network is ever expanding! “Lecturers without borders” is connecting scientists and educators from 12 countries. In 2019, we are working with scientists and educational institutions in France, Georgia, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Nepal, Russia, Senegal, Spain, Switzerland and Uruguay.
International researchers love to travel — who knew?
In May 2019, the MCAA France Chapter 2019 organised a Career Symposium at the Institut Curie in collaboration with the Institut Curie Training Unit. The conference brought together young researchers with exceptional speakers from different backgrounds, including policy, industry and start-ups. During a special session, “Lecturers without borders” presented their project to the conference attendees.
During this talk, a survey was held for the participants about researcher mobility, asking questions about how many researchers are travelling and what the main destinations of their travels are. The survey was conducted for a group of researchers with ages 25–38, who were part of Marie Curie projects in the past few years.
The results show the majority of researchers travel more than twice a year:
Although the most popular destinations are in Europe, many scientists are often going outside of Europe (in more than 13 % of cases):
Scientists were also asked whether they were willing to engage with local educational initiatives for science communication. More than 60 % of the respondents were open to the possibility:
While the survey was conducted on a limited number of participants, it is safe to assume that MCAA members — that is, researchers who have participated in research projects where mobility is one of the major foci — are open to international travel and engaging with audiences around the world.
About the author
Liubov Tupikina is a researcher who has been working in theoretical physics, mathematics, data analysis, computer science, and applications to biology, climatology, social science, epidemiology and education. After an incredibly rich scientific experience of collaborations with 8 partner universities in a European Marie Curie project, developing a framework to analyse big data for climate, she successfully published 15 publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Find out more about Liubov’s work on: https://liubovkmatematike.wordpress.com/2019/01/11/publications/
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