A blog entry by Andrew Magnaye, University of Alberta
The world is a big place.
However, as a kid growing up in Winnipeg, I felt this was it. My understanding of the world did not extend beyond the Perimeter Highway that surrounded my hometown. It was only when I first took a trip to the Philippines to visit family members that I had only communicated with by letters and long-distance phone calls, that I began to understand not only how big the world is, but also how connected we all are.
In research, we sometimes forget how wide scoping our research questions, interests and problem areas really are. We get so fixated on one particular issue, affecting one specific group of people, found at one location at a time, that we often get unintentionally siloed in our work. In the second year of my PhD, I wanted to change this predominant cycle. I wanted the opportunity to collaborate with researchers from across the globe who, like myself, are looking intimately at the lives of older adults and their families as they try to age well across the life course and around the world.
With funding from the Mitacs Globalink, World Universities Network (WUN) Research Mobility Fund and AGE-WELL Access Award, I was able to participate in a 2-month long international exchange with fellow AGE-WELL colleagues from the University of Sheffield. I had the opportunity to collaborate with partners from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded, Sustainable Care: connecting people and systems programme under the supervision of work package co-lead and leading expert in the field of transnational migration and care, Dr. Majella Kilkey. Working with Dr. Kilkey allowed me to further my understanding of my own research into transnational care and the impact of global ageing on Canadian families. She helped me formulate a policy scan framework in which to further explore the current state of migration regimes from sending and receiving countries that impact aging Canadian families as they negotiate care of loved ones throughout the life course. This work will be pivotal not only in my PhD dissertation research, but also in staking my claim as one of the burgeoning early career researchers on migration and care in Canada.
I cannot speak highly enough of the experience I had during my 2-month exchange in Sheffield and the opportunities that are available to a PhD student linked to the Sustainable Care programme. I will continue to work with members of the Sustainable Care team, along with my supervisor and work package co-lead Dr. Janet Fast, at my home institution at the University of Alberta. I am also now connected to a network of fellow PhD students and early career researchers across the research programme by email and messaging threads, through shared online drives and future opportunities to network and collaborate through Sustainable Care capacity building initiatives (webinars; masterclasses; in-person and online forums). We also have a WhatsApp group that we use to not only share timely information and news, but to also check-in on one another during this rocky road we call a PhD.
While in Sheffield, I also had the opportunity to participate in a weeklong World Universities Network (WUN) Research Development Fund Project workshop on Migrants’ Decision-Making in the Context of Shifting Migration Regimes: Highly Skilled Health and Social Care Professionals hosted by Dr. Kilkey and her co-lead Dr. Louise Ryan of the University of Sheffield. At this workshop, I was able to meet and collaborate with fellow researchers and PhD students from institutions across the World Universities Network including: University of Alberta; University of Sheffield; University of Western Australia; University of Sydney; University College Dublin; University of Warsaw and University of Ghana. This workshop was an eye-opening experience in gaining perspectives on the issues of care that are paramount in so many different places around the world and have received the much needed attention of the global academic community.
To cap off my exchange, I accompanied the Sustainable Care research team to the 4th Annual Transforming Care Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. The conference was organized by VIVE, the Danish center for Social Science Research (DK) and the Social Policy Lab of the Polytechnic of Milan (IT). Transforming Care brought together the leading researchers on care from across the globe to discuss new and exciting developments in the field with a focus on shifting priorities towards care policies and practices. This was by far one of the most in-depth and comprehensive conferences I have had the privilege to attend. I was also fortunate to network with researchers with similar research interests from North and South America, Australia, Europe and Australia.
Building off relationships and collaborations formed during my exchange, I hope to attend the Sustainable Care International Conference to be held in Sheffield, United Kingdom in April 2020. It would be a fantastic opportunity to disseminate the research that I conducted while in Sheffield and will continue to work on during this upcoming fall and winter semester at my home institution.
If you were to tell me 3 years ago when I started my graduate program that I would spend a summer in Europe that would profoundly change not only the way I viewed my work, but more broadly my entire worldview, I probably would’ve chuckled. Yeah right. But, yeah, you would’ve been right. I had no idea back then that so many people around the world have devoted their lives to research that meant so much to me on a personal level. I also had no idea that the same people would be as welcoming and hospitable in hosting and collaborating with me during my time abroad. For that, I am forever grateful.
I would like to send a special thank you to my home supervisors Dr. Janet Fast and Dr. Norah Keating and our project manager Jacquie Eales for all their support in helping make my exchange possible. I would also like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to Dr. Sue Yeandle, Dr. Majella Kilkey, Dr. Kelly Davidge, Dan Williamson and all of the members of the Sustainable Care team I was honored to meet for their kindness and hospitality throughout my exchange.