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Students Develop New Website for the Matariki Global Citizenship Programme – How It Happened

19th October 2017

By Sachiko Ishihara (Uppsala University), Rebecca Bouveng (Durham University) and Dan Brunsdon

Rebecca and Sachiko

The first workshop for the Matariki Global Citizenship Programme took place in Uppsala in April 2016 and was organised by staff and students at CEMUS (Centre for Environment and Development Studies). Sachiko was one of the two organisers, and Rebecca came as a participant with two students forming Durham’s delegation. During the four-day workshop, we explored critical notions of global citizenship and shared work and experiences. It was a really unique experience – as Anna Debska, Head of the MNU Secretariat, said after the conference, you really didn’t know who was a student and who was faculty and who was an administrator. So many ideas came out as a result of our joint work, both specific projects as well as proposed structures for this emerging Global Citizenship Programme.

The big question at the end of the workshop was, and has remained: how can we keep this momentum? How do we keep students and staff engaged in what we see as a really promising and innovative initiative?

When the MNU Executive Board met soon after our workshop and reviewed the outcomes and proposals, they were particularly supportive of the idea of a Matariki Global Citizenship Forum. Otago University agreed to host the first forum, which will take place 30 July – 2 August 2018 on the theme of Community Engagement.

Again, the question was – how do we best advertise this fantastic opportunity, and promote the Programme ?

At our respective home institutions, we kept talking to students and staff about the exciting opportunities of the Matariki Global Citizenship Programme. But without something to visualise these ideas and projects, it was hard to generate interest. We felt that for this fledgling Programme to survive, it would need its own brand identity, with its own website and social media platforms.

Our response was to develop a proposal precisely for this. As this is an international programme, we stressed that a good communication platform is essential in order to visualise activities in each institution and to advertise the many opportunities for students and staff to engage. The other ‘academic liaisons for global citizenship’ at each of the Matariki institutions agreed with the proposal, and we now just needed to find a way to make it happen. We also wanted to engage students as much as possible in this aspect of the Programme, as one of the three Matariki GCP strands is ‘Empowering Learners’. The Dean for Internationalisation at Durham, Danny Donoghue, has since long been a champion of student empowerment and agreed to fund a student internship – rather than a professional web design company – for creating  a brand new site. In July, following a competitive process, we appointed two student interns – Joseph Mills and Dan Brunsdon, MA students. They were given a short time frame – we wanted the work to be complete by mid-September, in time for the MNU Executive Board. In addition, we wanted all the institutions to be involved in the process and so the work involved extensive liaison with staff across the network for collating content, pictures, contact details and feedback. Dan and Joseph worked on the design and together we worked on the structure and key texts, aided by students in the Durham Global Citizenship Network and CEMUS.

Seeing the website evolve has been a quite inspiring process: both the sheer amount of student-led and global citizenship related projects across the network being collated; and the beautiful design and layout by Joseph and Dan. The website process illustrates the ethos of the Matariki Global Citizenship Programme: empower students to work in collaboration as equal colleagues with staff. The result is in front of you – what do you think of our co-created website?

Students in the Durham Global Citizenship working group reviewing the site

Dan Brunsdon

At the beginning of this work, I was only familiar with Ustinov’s GCP team and the activities they had been running over my year in Durham. These events were always enjoyable, and formed part of my fond memories of being part of this college. I was even able to join one of their teams, as an editor for the Ustinovian student magazine. The GCP here has created some fantastic experiences for both myself and others in the college, and so it is great to discover these opportunities are being extended world-wide through the collaboration in this Matariki Project. With such a large background represented by the different institutions which are so far taking part, I feel this is the perfect direction any global citizenship programme should be moving in.

During the creation of this site, Joe and I were able to Skype with Rebecca Bouveng and Sachiko Ishihara whilst they were in Sweden, as part of Uppsala’s coordination with this project. We were also asked to join a brainstorming session with Ustinov’s GCP team in Durham, where we discussed the future direction of this project and the best way to develop the existing strands. Joining in these activities was not only a pleasure, but I hope also helped the creation of the site to better reflect the values and goals of the Matariki Global Citizenship Project.  

Universities are fundamentally all about the sharing and exploration of different ideas, and so providing another forum in which this can not only take place but is also actively encouraged and facilitated is lovely to see.Typically in my previous experience in website creation, my work is usually abstracted from the content: creating pages and categories and designing layouts. However by having access to and reading the variety of content which has been re-posted onto this site, I feel I have been able to take part in this project in my own small way, and I hope for the opportunity to get involved even more so in the future. The foundations for this project are set, and now as my time at Ustinov comes to an end and I leave the university, it’s up to the next cohort of students to take advantage of these opportunities and build this community further.  

Danny Donoghue, Durham’s Dean for Internationalisation, reviewing the website with Sachiko Ishihara
Sachiko and Rebecca
Sachiko after a long week’s work as Matariki Global Citizenship