Rewarding collaboration despite differences

International collaboration between different universities often involves studying certain conditions and circumstances in the respective countries and comparing the results. This however does not necessarily have to be the case. In working together with Makerere University in Uganda, the Media and Communications Department at Örebro University has instead focused on comparing methods and learning from each other's experiences.

– Sometimes the approaches applied in our research are so different that pursuing parallel studies are pointless, says Associate Professor Peter Berglez. That does however not stop us from finding inspiration in each other's research, and in joint seminars we are able to learn from each other.

In 2010, Örebro University was included in a project funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Sida. The focus of the project is to strengthen education and research at Makerere University in the Ugandan capital, Kampala. Makerere University is one of Africa's biggest universities and it was founded as a technical school in 1922. Sida is supporting collaboration projects between schools and departments at various universities in Sweden and their counterparts in Uganda. While for instance the medical university Karolinska institutet in Stockholm is working together with the medical faculty at Makerere, media and communication studies at Örebro University is cooperating with Makerere's Journalism and Communication Department.

Cooperation and exchange

– We are running a cooperation project and an exchange between researchers, but our part of the project is also funding a doctoral student, says Peter Berglez.

The student is Nakiwala Aisha Sambataya and she is working on a project on how best to disseminate information in order to prevent malaria. She spent some time in Örebro leading up to Christmas last year and even if she is supervised and pursuing her research onsite in Uganda, she has an assistant supervisor in Associate Professor Leonor Camauer in Örebro, consequently receiving additional support in her work.

Peter Berglez has been working together with Associate Professor Linda Nassanga Goretti on a study on differences in climate change reporting in the media.

– I was previously part of a project funded by the Swedish Research Council Formas, analysing media reports on the climate issue and I am able to bring those experiences to the project that is currently underway at Makerere University. Researchers are there studying how to reach out with relevant information on climate change to the people around Lake Victoria. Any contribution of mine is in my capacity as a partner.

Different views

The views on climate change in the two countries serve as an illustration of how different our circumstances are. In Sweden we are primarily talking about mitigation, in Uganda adaptation is in focus. Mitigation can be defined as measures that reduce environmental pollution and where the individual can make a change. Here we are discussing emissions, reduced oil consumption and waste recycling – things that may change the situation. Adaptation is about just that, about surviving and learning to negotiate the new conditions.

– Our starting points are so different. And this also has an effect on the way in which the information to the general public in the respective countries is design by the media and other stakeholders, says Peter Berglez.

The Sida project is coming to an end, but has been extended until 2015.

Text: Lars Westberg
Translation: Charlotta Hambre-Knight
Photo: Örebro University