Monash University recently hosted graduate research students from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), commencing a long-term collaborative initiative between the two institutions.
Six TISS post-graduate students undertook the ‘TISS Study Abroad Program’, a week-long intensive exchange program focussing on the field of Gender Studies, which encouraged an expansion of their knowledge alongside Monash Arts post-graduate students in an international academic environment.
The program encompassed the 2018 Annual Social and Political Sciences (SPS) Post-Graduate Symposium where the students presented their research papers; the launch of the Herb Feith Indonesian Engagement Centre; and a Masterclass at the Monash Migration and Inclusion Centre with visiting scholar Professor Anna Traindafyllidou from the European University Institute. They also visited the Monash Gender and Family Violence Research Centre, introducing the students to domestic and international patterns governing criminal justice responses to family violence, and cultural differences in how victims can access economic and social security.
The students also visited the Monash Migration and Inclusion Centre and Gender, Peace and Security Centre during their visit.
TISS student Shilanjani Bhattacharya, who received the best paper award at the SPS Symposium for her work in “Rethinking Femininity, Renunciation and Spirituality: The case of Baul women of Bengal”, says the experience was invaluable in broadening her horizons within her field of research.
“[My experience was] a wonderful immersion into a multicultural environment, which has enabled me to engage in conversation and dialogue with students, professors and research domains across cultures, borders and contexts,” she said.
“The Symposium enabled me to learn about the wide range of unique research that is being pursued at Monash University by its current students, while also engaging in critical discussions and dialogue.”
Fellow visiting student Durga PV reflected that the foreign academic context was a refreshing experience that prompted a sharing of her unique social experience with a new cohort, and was thoroughly engaged with Monash University’s research centres in migration, gender and family violence.
“What appealed to me the most about the environment at Monash was how it encouraged a culture of dialogue – there was always a sense of non-hierarchical reciprocity in the sharing of knowledge between professors and students,” she said.
“I had a wonderful time bringing in the Indian perspective, and engaging in discussions about unique, intersectional standpoints that each student brought to the table.”
Another fellow student, Nazia Islam, believed she has left Australia with an enriched understanding of how her research is situated within the global context, and bolstered her international academic network.
“I feel it has helped me in boosting my self confidence in presenting my work in an international platform among fellow researchers, enhancing my communication skills while interacting with researchers from different countries across the world, widened my perspective and understanding the need for thinking locally and acting globally,” she said.
The mutual collaboration was established following a January 2018 visit to India by Monash University Dean of Arts Professor Sharon Pickering, with both institutions resolving to understand the full scope of partnering in research and knowledge sharing across borders.
Monash University supported the TISS students for the duration of their tenure by providing lodging and covering tuition costs, while a joint research project on ‘Gender and Family-Based Violence’ has been proposed to launch in 2019.
As part of the reciprocal relationship, 149 Monash Arts students are currently visiting TISS campuses, where they will engage with the local cohort, through their involvement in the freshly developed Global Immersion Guarantee (GIG), an Australian-first program that encourages Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Global Studies students to undertake a 12-point overseas elective unit after their first year of studies.