In late November 2018, the Leeds Social Sciences Institute (LSSI) took a delegation of scholars and support staff to the Instituto de Investigaciones Gino Germani (IIGG) in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Buenos Aires (UBA).
The visit followed up a week-long visiting professorship by LSSI Director Professor Adam Crawford in June 2018, during which possibilities for building beneficial research synergies between LSSI and IIGG where explored with senior colleagues at UBA. The aim of the delegation was to learn more about respective research strengths, to forge a deeper understanding of mutual opportunities, to agree priorities for future collaboration and staff exchange visits, and to sign a Memorandum of Understanding.
The delegation was led by Professor Jeremy Higham (Dean of ESSL) and included: Professor Adrian Favell (Deputy Director of LSSI, School of Sociology and Social Policy); Dr Anna Mdee (Associate Director of Water@Leeds, School of Politics and International Studies); Dr Kim Allen (School of Sociology and Social Policy); Dr Helen Rajabi (Research and Innovation Service); and Alison Lundbeck (LSSI, Research & Innovation Development Manager).
The delegation was warmly welcomed by Professor Carolina Mera, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Dr Martín Unzué, Director of the Institute, and a number of other colleagues from IIGG. This was an opportunity to get to meet new colleagues and discuss potential areas of mutual interest, and also witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to support ongoing collaboration between the institutions. Dr Rajabi noted: “Our hosts were really keen for us to understand something of the history and culture of Buenos Aires, and we came away with a strong understanding of the social and political context that their academics are working in.”
Further meetings during the visit allowed both parties to gain a deeper understanding of current projects and research interests, and led to collaboration meetings to delve deeper into possible areas for in-depth collaboration and comparative research. Clear areas of shared interest and shared concern were found around societal issues in times of austerity and recession, including around social policy and welfare in times of political turbulence; inequalities; political discourse and media representation; migration; and gender and feminist activism. There was a clear dedication on both sides to use research as an instrument to explore issues affecting peoples’ lives and seek to positively impact on society. “Professor Higham commented: “We were warmly received by our hosts and had a series of productive discussions on our respective research into global societal challenges. It is clear there are several shared research agendas that we will be taking forward.”
The visit is part of an on-going internationalisation strategy developed by LSSI, following from the delegation to the University of Queensland Institute for Social Science Research (ISSR) in May 2018. LSSI has proactively sought to develop relationships with similar university institutions at prestigious universities which support social scientists to address major global issues. International collaboration can be an important part of addressing complex, global problems by understanding differing perspectives and contexts and undertaking large and comparative studies. As well as individual relationships with other institutes, LSSI will support development of collaborations between partners into a broader network of social science institutes aiming to raise the profile of the social sciences and address important global challenges.
The next steps in our collaboration will be a visit from Dr Emilio Ayos and Dr Jesica Lorena Pla from IIGG to the University of Leeds for two weeks in (14-25th) January 2019, during which time they will be giving presentations on their own research organised in conjunction with the School of Sociology and Social Policy, and the School of Law.