Safa Jafari Safa, Office of Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Department of Education at AUB collaborated with its counterpart at the Lebanese American University (LAU) to organize a two-day graduate research forum in education with the theme of “Being a socially responsible researcher in graduate school: critical actions and reflections.” After a collaboration last year on graduate research in education, the two departments expanded the forum to include graduate students from various universities in Lebanon to exchange research, explore means of networking, and design strategies to build joint research agendas and research projects. Out of a total of 100 attendees, over 65 participated as presenting graduate education students from AUB, Balamand University, Haigazian University, LAU, Lebanese University, Notre Dame University, and Saint Joseph University.
The event comes as an expansion of a pilot forum that was held last year after AUB’s Dr. Anies Al Hroub, department chair, and Dr. Rima Karami, education forum coordinator, initiated contact in 2016 with LAU’s Dr. Mona Nabhani, department chair, and Dr. Rima Bahous, associate professor of education, to officially collaborate on graduate research exchange in a joint event themed “Building a Collaborative Community of Educational Researchers.”
“The 2018 forum is designed to allow students to share their research, at any stage, with fellow graduate students and faculty members from different universities and specialty areas,” said Karami, who explained that the tradition of holding a graduate education forum is more than two decades old at AUB’s Department of Education. “It is also designed to help them exchange ideas about becoming educational researchers and to support them in growing their network of educators.”
The forum this year focused on the importance of conducting and reflecting on socially responsible research that aims to understand and improve education theory and practice in the Arab region, while abiding by necessary ethical principles and engaging with other researchers and graduate students in a collaborative network.
“We believe that, as aspiring researchers and responsible members of society, graduate education students can influence the direction of research and can play a critical role in promoting a collective research agenda rooted in social responsibility,” added Karami.
The forum included two moderated panel discussions, addressing the meaning of being a socially responsible researcher and offering an understanding of ethical considerations in educational research. In addition, three workshops were held simultaneously: on database search, writing literature reviews, and the critical understanding of international literature as reader and researcher. Student panel and roundtable research discussions were also joined with a “three-minute-research challenge” where 20 students competed in presenting their research projects in non-specialist language within three minutes to a voting audience using audiovisual tools.
“Such sessions prepare the way for us students to not only collaborate now but also collaborate for further research,” said education graduate student Stephanie Gabri Jureidini. “I felt that the forum revived me because in the outside world not many people share this concern and passion for education. So having people share this love and talk the same language is a big boost.”
In parallel, 29 participating students displayed overviews of their research in a poster exhibit held at West Hall’s Malhas Common Room, and discussed their work, challenges faced, and findings with circulating and interested attendees.
Before the forum concluded with the distribution of certificates, a World Café was held, calling for action for “sustaining research support groups.” This session, dubbed by some participants as a change-driver that actually turns plans into needed action, consisted of a 30-minute small-group discussion and 40 minutes for harvesting the generated ideas.
Building on last year’s graduate student forum, students discussed the idea of collaborating on actionable strategies to transform their network into a professional network or association, granting growth and sustainability beyond the forum and serving as a medium for promoting collaboration and support during and beyond the research process. They were encouraged to consider the association’s vision, goals, activities, and terms of participation and form an initiation committee that will lead the formation of this association.
“This forum was an enriching learning experience that defines the true essence of a professional learning committee characterized by meaningful discussions, peer reviews, critical friendships, and mentorship,” commented Paul Said, a graduate student currently in his thesis-writing stage at AUB. “The ambiance created in this forum promoted openness in sharing experiences, mutual learning and reflective practices; most importantly, it has pushed forward towards creating a network of researchers who share the mission of transforming our realm through their socially responsible research.”