Research on Academic Mobility: the boom has started

By Fred Dervin, The University of Turku, Finland (freder@utu.fi)

 

The Department of French Studies of the University of Turku (Finland) organized an international bilingual conference (English and French) on Academic Mobility from 21-23.9.2006 (http://users.utu.fi/freder/Conf%20mobility/cat/mobility.htm). The main aim of the conference was to provide a multidisciplinary forum for discussing the actors of academic mobility (students, researchers, administrators, teaching staff, etc.). Around fifty papers, five plenary speakers and a panel discussion were given from scholars working in the fields of linguistics, education, didactics, anthropology, sociology, psychology, history, geography and educational policy, among others. What was supposed to be originally a small seminar on student mobility turned into a large convivial international conference with over a hundred participants from 30 countries who shared ideas and networked for three days in Turku. This was the very first conference of this type where confirmed scholars, young researchers, administrators, teaching staff and people interested in Academic Mobility gathered in English and French.

 

Some of the themes that were covered included: organizing mobility, obstructions, integration of mobile academics, curriculum development, virtual mobility, language learning and teaching, intercultural awareness, skills development, perceptions of Academic Mobility, and impact of academic mobility. Since this was the first meeting of this kind, it became clear that a new field of study is being given birth to and that scholars are very eager to share and find new ideas on Academic mobility. Researchers from different scientific fields have until now concentrated on exchange and international students and new populations and corpora are emerging (researchers, teachers, multi-mobile academics, etc.). One of the conclusions drawn from the conference is that there is a large interest in research on Academic Mobility but that consistent (pluridisciplinary) theorization and long-term applied research on different aspects of Academic Mobility are needed more than ever if the field of research wants to gain credibility and recognition. Also closer links between researchers, theorists and practitioners are essential in the future in order to help to improve Academic Mobility.

 

The second edition of Academic Mobility: Blending Perspectives will take place at the University of Tallinn, Estonia in 2008/9. People interested in cooperating with the organizers may contact Fred Dervin (freder@utu.fi) and Aleksandra Ljalikova (ljalikova.aleksandra@gmail.com).

 

The proceedings of the conference will be published in three volumes in 2007.  In the meantime, people who are interested in knowing more about research on Academic mobility may order Research on Academic Mobility: an overview, list of researchers and bibliography a book written by Fred Dervin (Turku, Finland) and Esmeralda Lopes Rosa (The Algarve, Portugal) through the bookstore of The University of Turku, Finland, by email (tykk@utu.fi), fax +35823336660, or phone +35823336666. (cf. http://users.utu.fi/freder/Resrach%20on%20mob.htm).