Project title: Transnational Praxis Research Collaboration
Name of Contact: Ron Krabill
Position/Rank: Associate Professor
Other Collaboration members: MACS faculty
Summary: This project will take a team of four faculty members from the Master of Arts in Cultural Studies (MACS) program at UW Bothell to visit colleagues doing similar praxis-oriented work in cultural studies at the University of British Columbia Okanagan (UBCO) in Kelowna, British Columbia.
The MACS collaboration with UBCO is part of a larger project that Krabill intends to undertake during his sabbatical year to bring together four institutions of higher education on three continents, each of which is engaged in rethinking cultural studies research and graduate education through the key cultural studies concept of praxis. This project pilots a new model for transnational research collaboration while focusing on research topics already being explored at all of the selected institutions through a more robust approach to praxis.
The funding from iDISCO will allow faculty from MACS and UBCO to discuss projects that are now only loosely aware of each other from afar in order to build into active collaborations that could significantly shape the research trajectories of the cultural studies programs in each location. It also provides an opportunity to explore regional and transnational formations of the kind of community-based work that is becoming increasingly central to the mission of UW Bothell and IAS.
This collaboration builds directly out of the academic program review for MACS (conducted in Spring 2015), which described the program as “clearly ambitious, distinctive and outstanding both nationally and internationally as a model of cultural studies as praxis” while also encouraging it to become more visible internationally, saying the program has “a forward thinking cultural studies model which ought to be a bright light shining on the national and international cultural studies community.” The review committee specifically suggested that stronger ties be made to the cultural studies program at the University of British Columbia Okanagan, which is both geographically close and similarly oriented toward praxis.
During the visit to UBCO, the faculty team from MACS will explore the possibilities of collaboration with faculty from UBCO across three elements: transnational research clusters; curricular innovations, and faculty and student exchanges. Each of these efforts have the possibility of creating ripple effects throughout the school of IAS as we develop their implications for community-based learning and curricular innovation.
Transnational research clusters will involve groups of faculty and students across the institutions that address a common theme or topic in their research, but address it within the specifics of each institution’s local, regional, or national context. Each research cluster would approach their work from the perspective of public scholarship, i.e., with the goal of generating research oriented toward practical usage in social and political contexts. Piloting these research cultures will allow faculty and students across all four institutions to develop a more transnational approach to their own work while remaining grounded in the specifics of their own locales.
The work of the transnational research clusters will also have the opportunity to develop curricular innovations for connecting classes and students across all of the institutions. In particular, the project will build upon the insights of the Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) project, for which Krabill is one of three co-principal investigators. The Transnational Praxis Research Collaboration will allow these institutions to build a more robust and sustainable partnership that incorporates COIL approaches beyond the undergraduate classroom into graduate education and praxis-oriented research.
Emerging from this initial year, the Transnational Praxis Research Collaboration will have in place a small number of pilot transnational research clusters, be in position to offer COIL-related graduate courses the following year, and have a planning document ready to implement. The Transnational Praxis Research Collaboration is thus positioned to make MACS a more visible leader in praxis-oriented cultural studies, as recommended by the academic program review.