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Polyglot researcher

Posted on 30-08-2021

"Clean up concepts, don't leave them in the soft language of ideology." François Jullien, 2017   While working on a collaborative project between the PACT laboratory in France and Michigan University in the United States, I realized that a word doesn’t necessarily have the same meaning in different languages. Worse still, it can mean the opposite, leading to a serious misunderstanding. For example, there is a fundamental difference between the definitions of urban structure in France and the United States. Some terms don’t even exist in the language of one country or the other – despite them sharing the same roots and source.   “A successful researcher must possess the ability to comprehend, dismantle and explain complex ideas.” A researcher’s skills extend beyond processes and scientific dialogues. A researcher must engage with everyone, regardless of their background. Comprehending the meanings of terms in other languages and their own is a vital skill for any researcher. They must know the etymology, differences in definitions, and the origin of the terms. Seeing beyond the obvious meaning is an acquired skill that takes time to hone   Goodwill is not enough "A false but clear and precise idea will always have more power in the world than a true but complex one." Alexis de Tocqueville, 1835   Research is performed by using systematic methods to achieve specific goals and improve our lives. Maintaining trust in the good intentions of research is essential, but it is clear that many researchers today fail to touch people’s lives. Therefore, their work must be considered a failure, even if it achieves its academic objectives.   Have you ever wondered why people don’t enjoy hearing a scientist explain an important topic, such as the impact of climate change or the dangers of desertification? Most scientists use sophisticated and specialist language, with an abundance of facts and dry statistics. As these are difficult to understand, the speakers don’t capture the imagination of the audience.   Meanwhile, a YouTuber with a business degree may succeed in explaining the most complicated aspects of quantum physics and get millions of views in less than a month. (Funnily enough, I only understood the origin of dark matter after watching a 13-year-old YouTuber explaining it.) However, a highly trained and educated physicist might not manage to convince even 20 people to attend their lecture.   It’s not only the visual attraction or presentation techniques that draw people in. It’s also the type of language used, the speaker’s ability to convey meaning clearly and with simple terminology, and the vital skill of being a polyglot researcher in an era when language could either drive us apart or bring us closer together.   In the end, we must keep in mind that thinking from multi-dimensional perspectives is beneficial not only for research but also for life. What you believe to be absolute may change, and accepting those differences is the key to success. We must familiarize ourselves with terminology in related fields, too, as transdisciplinary research is the new norm. And using dictionaries is not old-fashioned!     Watch this (The Power of Words) Read this (Planning language, planning identity…) Think about this: (What does the word suburbs mean in English? And what does périurbain mean in French?)  

Author: M.Alsaeed (ESR5)

Reflections

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Webcams and virtual whiteboards against climate change (and your mental health)

Posted on 29-07-2021

What use will we have for our webcams and all the online spaces occupied during the last year and half? As I was looking for an angle for my blog entry on the kick-off of RE-DWELL, I realized that between our recent virtual habits and the return to the “old” normal, one encounters certain areas of tension, especially in an international project like ours. Because ultimately, while we may be tempted to revert to our former patterns of hypermobility once the pandemic is over, one should never forget the impact of our movements on climate change: a crisis that needed to be addressed a decade ago.   The kick-off session showed how far we have come in relation to remote work and learning. The organizing staff managed to bring a bunch of strangers together to start exchanging in creative and effective ways: a most complex task. Breaking down the event into multiple two-hour blocks and mixing formats of interactions kept Zoom fatigue to a minimum. Short personal introductions alternated between live presentations for supervisors and pre-recorded videos for ESRs, creating rhythm and variation. Similarly, to initiate a common reflection on the key concepts of our research, brainstorming sessions rotated between small team discussions and wider plenary reports. These activities build momentum for the project: as we got to know each other’s backgrounds and interests, we could develop a mutual understanding of the goals we wish to pursue as a group. That we could achieve this online is a feat in and of itself. During the event, we used Miro – a virtual whiteboard to create mind maps. At first, I must admit that I was overwhelmed: a dozen mouse pointers moving around my screen to share, change and connect different thoughts and concepts. After the initial shock, I understood its value as a tool that not only underline linkages between concepts and ideas, but also acts as a window into the creative process of my new colleagues. This allowed me to better grasp how they organized their thinking in a way that would have been difficult in a “traditional” setting. Indeed, in a seminar room, a whiteboard can rarely accommodate more than two people writing at the same time, perhaps leading to less spontaneous visual representations. While this may sound like an ode to virtual meetings and online learning, it most definitely is not. Let it be clear: I do not like distance anything. I don’t enjoy seeing my face on a screen, I never know when to speak, and my attention span shrinks significantly. In short, as much as I always loathed talking on the phone, I feel even more awkward in front of a webcam. In “real life”, I love socializing after meetings, seminars, or after a workday. You wish to drink coffee before class? I am there. You want to grab a beer before the weekend? Count me in. But after an online appointment I am consistently relieved to turn off my camera and log out. Here, I could be happy that we are (hopefully) on our way out of the pandemic, that we may return to “normal” sooner than later. I will finally be able to chat with colleagues during the break and be awkward when meeting new people in person rather than in front of a screen. But fleeing back to our old habits without thinking would be a mistake. Indeed, how can we justify our hypermobility when knowing that we can function and connect remotely? When we consider the environmental impact of international travel, this becomes especially true for a project tackling sustainability In the pre-Covid era, while we were aware of greenhouse emissions from business trips, comparatively little was being done. Hopping on a plane to attend a meeting, seminar, workshop, or conference held in a different country was a thoughtless routine. However, we now know that the world will not collapse if we stay put and hang out on Zoom rather than in a conference room. In our case specifically, acknowledging that we could kick-off the activities of our network online relatively painlessly, can we just fly to the first meeting that can be held in person, without weighing the environmental impact? I think this issue links nicely to the discussions we had after the kick-off on the role of ethics in research. I believe that we should extend our considerations of ethics as to broadly reflect on how we conduct our activities. Indeed, as I work in a project tackling sustainability, what should I make of the greenhouse emissions linked to my regular travels? Not so much to look for a definitive answer to this question, I see it more as injunction to weigh the actions I will pose in the next three years and to ponder on how they are in accordance with the values I wish to carry in my research. That the urge to jump on a plane to finally meet my new colleagues in person is also part in contributing to the issues we wish to solve in this project. Ultimately this is all part of the trade-offs we are forced to make: while webcams may help us fight climate change, they are a long way from effectively replacing the physical interactions we all need.

Author: C.Verrier (ESR3)

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Here’s why you should watch Real Estate TV Shows…

Posted on 28-07-2021

OK, I’ve got a confession to make: I am addicted to real estate reality TV. The plastic surgery and mansions in Selling Sunset make me live, but it is the prime Airbnb’s from The Worlds’ Most Amazing Vacation Rentals that I die for. I do understand that for many a scholar, these shows may seem too crude. Indeed, they are infused with obscene wealth, flashy cars, and dramatic airborne entrances. These sumptuously designed homes make Hudson Yards look like a Lacaton & Vassal retrofit but more importantly, they remind us what houses are about for a minority of powerful elites.   Having just finished The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes, I can’t help but give some thought to the use of houses to display wealth and power, ultimately what are homes for when they are not for dwelling. Before giving free rein to criticising the eccentricities of the 1%, it must be recognised that homes for elites have always been about status. Morality aside, we wouldn’t have a Palazzo Pitti[1] if it wasn’t for Renaissance bankers, nor a Mauritshuis[2] without Dutch mercantilists (and slave plantations in Brazil).   What is it then that makes the contemporary equivalents of the 18th century French Châteaux much more perturbing? I believe the reason is to be found in the unequal distributions of wealth joining the inescapable reality of shared ultimate costs. Earlier examples of wealth extraction took place out of sight, through colonial exploitation, or somehow involved those exploited. That goes to say, even the industrial proletariat in Europe managed to access some of the fruits of their labour not without some struggle. For instance, Ludwig II of Bavaria, best portrayed by Visconti in the 1973 film Ludwig, used the construction of his Schlösser to patron local artists and created a flourishing artisan class. On the contrary, the yachts parked in London’s Saint Catherine’s docks, much like the mansions portrayed on my predilect passe-temps, only rob us, an increasingly impoverished majority, of our present and future.   If you can stomach The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes, you’ll witness the severed wings of a Boeing 747 airlifted by a helicopter over Nevada’s desert only to become a “feminine ceiling” on a millionaire’s rural home. While the technical prowess is commendable and the so-called “femininity of the shape” hilariously sexist, the scene is overall off-putting. To me, this has not so much to do with the obvious disregard for money and mounting costs, things that I’m ultimately quite fond of in any aristocrat’s palazzo. My grievance dwells in the claims of sustainability and material upcycling that disregard the carbon embodied in the deranged operation of using a helicopter to build a roof.   The main issue here is that the long-term consequences of the lavish lifestyle of the few are already harming the many. One only needs to look at this month’s deadly flooding across Europe to apprehend this. In the time of quasi-astronaut millionaires, sustainability is only conceivable through wealth redistribution. In the meantime, if you feel like having a cheeky peek at the Swan’s song of the West, all the shows I’ve mentioned are available on Netflix.   [1] Florentine Palace, probably designed by Brunelleschi, and today home to the House of Medici's art collection. [2] Currently an art museum, it was built as a home to Johan Maurits van Nassau-Siegen, governor of Dutch Brazil.

Author: A.Fernandez (ESR12)

Reflections

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Isolation?

Posted on 26-07-2021

The past few weeks have been some of the most intense, jam-packed and fulfilling of my entire life. Though you may not believe it, during this time I have: completed and passed my final architecture exams, qualifying as an architect after 11 years of study; packed up my home and moved from Manchester to London as a stop-gap on my way to Barcelona; organised a Civil Partnership to my wonderful partner; and started a new job. Honorary mention to the general life admin that comes with moving country and distributing accumulated personal assets (dear plants, I will miss you!*).   Anchoring me throughout this madness has been starting work with the RE-DWELL Consortium’s Kick-Off Sessions. Although I’ve had the constant feeling of one foot in the (virtual) room and one foot out of the door, it only took one group Miro exercise into the definitions of affordability, sustainability and transdisciplinarity to know that I have found my tribe.   Social housing and the politics that surrounds it have been woven into everything I work towards. One of my previous architecture firm directors actually took me aside one day to disclose to me, “you have too much of a social agenda, you need to change your thinking to become more commercial”. I credit this director with pushing me to prove that a social agenda is not un-commercial.   Discussing inequality, neoliberalism and financialisation is party talk to me. But during the kick-off sessions, a world-wide network of multi-generational professionals brought new focus to this conversation through concepts including paradigm shift, circular economy, and sustainable indicators, to name a few.   As Hannah Arendt once said: “Action…is never possible in isolation; to be isolated is to be deprived of the capacity to act”.   And isolated we are not! (Government-mandated 10 to 14 days of self-isolation notwithstanding).   Thus, as I embark upon a holistic journey, striving for transdisciplinarity with 14 of the most committed young professionals I’ve come across in my quest for fair and adequate housing for all, guided by a team of supervisors and specialists from our uniquely qualified secondments, I say … watch this space!   Long Live the Social Agenda!

Author: S.Furman (ESR2)

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Greater than the sum of its parts

Posted on 21-07-2021

A few weeks into the RE-DWELL adventure, I find myself more optimistic regarding the challenges our societies face than I have been in a long time. Having to deal with both a climate crisis as well as a housing crisis at the same time can be quite daunting, especially when time is so short. But getting to know talented and dedicated peers, learning from their personal beliefs and disciplinary perspectives while thinking out loud about research opportunities really cheers you up!   The kick-off sessions helped us to draw connections between each other and between the research scopes we envision. I really liked how the break-out rooms enabled us to have discussions in smaller groups, as this gave the sessions a personal and informal setting. And one look at the Miro boards will tell you that even when the issues at stake may sometimes feel fragmented, the opposite is true. We are all focusing on different elements of Affordable & Sustainable Housing but if we collaborate well the pieces of the puzzle will all fall together nicely.   I genuinely believe the RE-DWELL community is in a unique position to contribute to a better understanding of the way forward, because messy and complex real-world problems call for a holistic approach. In that, I must give it to my old pal Aristotle, the whole could indeed be greater than the sum of its parts.

Author: T.Croon (ESR11)

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New beginnings: paving the way towards sustainable and affordable housing for all

Posted on 19-07-2021

Contemporary times have shown us that telecommuting is something that is here to stay. And here we are, in front of our screens, taking the first steps into what will definitely be one of the most exciting journeys we will ever undertake. Finally, after a competitive and exhaustive recruitment process, composed of several months of waiting, a dose of stress, a tablespoon of excitement, and a myriad of desires, objectives, and goals, the RE-DWELL network is officially launched; by incorporating a team of avid early-stage researchers and I'm part of it. The squad is now complete, and a series of introductory sessions are the backdrop to meet each other, identify affinities and envisage potential synergies.  RE-DWELL project contends an enticing premise under its title, at least this is how I perceived it from the very first time I read about it. It's inviting us to re-think how we are producing and shaping the built environment and its most valuable ingredient, housing. To re-evaluate the level of effectiveness of current policies and strategies of housing provision, and to re-connect with civil society, communities, and everyone that co-habits in modern-day urban agglomerations. To do so, we have the best human resources available and the collaboration of superb partners in academia and industry. Likewise, the support of an ambitious project like Horizon 2020 and the leverage of being part of a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative training network.  As part of the challenging exercise of producing knowledge under the limitations that living in the post-pandemic world supposes, we are invited to participate in a kick-off session. A meeting that despite lacking physical interaction, didn't fail to deliver the most important feature when a group of interesting minds convenes: dialogue and effective communication, exchange of ideas, points of view, and collaboration. Personally, I was truly amazed by the set of skills, experience, and capacities gathered in my fellow ESRs, supervisory panel, and secondments representatives.  By making the most out of the tools available, we were able to produce mind maps and diagrams intertwining the key concepts that serve as the cornerstone of our approach, i.e., affordability, sustainability, and transdisciplinarity. A first attempt to gauge the countless possibilities for producing cooperation and collaboration between our individual projects and the common aims that we all share. I’m thrilled to imagine the enriching conversations and projects that will bring about the workshops, conferences, and summer schools scheduled in the coming years. Current travel restrictions and a visit that had been postponed for several years have left me stranded in Colombia, from where, despite the 8510 km that separate Bogotá from Barcelona, I was able to participate in these meetings (thank you very much broadband and Microsoft Teams). I hope that next time we'll meet in person in Lisbon (and not having to get up at 3 am to attend one of the training sessions that unfortunately wasn't scheduled in the afternoon).   I am convinced of the immense potential of this project that just started, the possibilities are infinite, comparable to our ambitions. There is a lot to be done, but we have the best team to make it happen. 

Author: L.Ricaurte (ESR15)

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Well begun is half done!

Posted on 18-07-2021

Once in a blue moon. “RE-DWELL committee has agreed on awarding you ESR position … March 2021”, a very simple sentence but it changed everything for 15 young passionate researchers. Time runs quickly, leaving you to wonder; is this the new chapter? Am I ready? What is next?  Now I am a researcher in Marie-Curie International Training Network, which is the new fountain of knowledge not only for the new 15 Early Stage Researcher (ESRs) but for many preceding scholars. It works not only to support future researchers but also to solve the issue of social housing in a very unique and futuristic way deploying the strength of transdisciplinary research, sustainability concepts and affordability principles. Not to mention it paves our path in pursuing the success of our individual projects as part of RE-DWELL overall goals.   Well begun is half done. A few months later and on the 2nd July, we have attended our first kick-off session, followed by three comprehensive sessions, where more than 50 professionals, academics and researchers (from all over the world) have gathered for the first time. All the 15 RE-DWELLers, partners and supervisors have presented themselves in very inventive ways. Overall, the four sessions were exciting. The organizers have established a set of innovative exercises in small groups allowing everyone to meet the other RE-DWELLers and exchange the ideas and goals of the individual projects.   The ball of wool. The exercises prepared were very interactive and motivational; I have engaged with at least 12 RE-DWELLers, the level of professionalism and creativity of everyone fascinated me. Behind my 13inc screen, I met architects, urban planners, and social and political scientists and even environmental engineers engaging in very sophisticated and informed discussions, "a beehive," you might say, all of us working to understand the meaning and goals of sustainability, affordability through the eyes of transdisciplinary research. I have learned so many things in less than a couple of hours, it was my first time to paddle around "transdisciplinary" and I could say it is a deep ocean of intersecting knowledge that makes you wants more.   The heroes of 01010: Álvaro, my cam is not working! Interactive boards, separate discussion rooms, mind maps, virtual folders, and so many things were in place and ready for us, makes you wonder what incredible work and effort the organizers did. Finally, a couple of clicks on my keyboard is not enough to show appreciation to Leandro, Álvaro, Carla, Karim and everyone (with all the respect to the professional titles), but a promise to successful research outcome and a box of chocolate might help!   Thanks to everyone, and I hope to see you soon in a COVID free world.

Author: M.Alsaeed (ESR5)

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Kick-off of a new adventure!

Posted on 18-07-2021

So, this is it. I am here, in 40°C Nicosia, and I’m -digitally- surrounded by awesome people who are going to be my peers and colleagues for the next three years. I must say, I feel a mixture of awe and agitation at what lies ahead of me in this journey. This is why I paired this text with an image of Bilbo Baggins, about to leave Hobbiton behind; because I see a bit of myself in him: clearly out of my comfort zone but nonetheless excited to join this journey! On the 3rd of July we began our 4-day kick-off sessions as a digital meet-and-greet and tuning-in workshop. It felt quite awkward in the beginning, as it is expected when 40+ people meet online for the very first time, but very productive too. I was happy to listen to different perspectives on the meanings of key terms in this endeavour, such as sustainability and transdisciplinarity and try to understand or imagine where everyone’s definitions and opinions come from, what has influenced their way of thinking and steered them in a certain direction. But I was more than happy to already feel a sense of community with my team members, the 14 ESRs with whom I will be working. Through our shared confusion on what happens next, the everyday struggles to settle in new places, surround ourselves with new people and build a new “home” and the hints of insecurity peeking through those moments of sharing all the aforementioned, made me realise that I am indeed not alone in this, neither professionally, nor mentally. And there’s nothing better than finding such ties, or “making kin”, in a world that pushes us to compete, so that the strongest can survive and succeed. After all, as Jack Halberstam* once pointed out, the notion of a universal definition of success is rooted in the western economic system under which we live. But to not wander further away, I’ll just say that it was a highly enjoyable 4-day session, albeit overwhelming at times and I’m looking forward to delving deeper into everyone’s insights on this complicated task we are called to tackle. I really look forward to sharing knowledge and learning from everyone and that’s what I’m primarily here to do. I am here to learn, and the truth is I will never stop being “here to learn”. I will leave you with a quote from a beloved book that has accompanied me since I was a teenager:                 "[…] I will face my fear.                  I will permit it to pass over me and through me.                 And when it has gone past, I will turn the inner eye to see its path.                 Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."  - Frank Herbert, in Dune   *If you’d like to delve deeper into how our perception of success is shaped by heteronormative capitalism, check out Halberstam’s book “The queer art of failure”.

Author: E.Roussou (ESR9)

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Threshold

Posted on 18-07-2021

Through the juxtaposition of things that were not normally found together, new irruptive truths are produced. (Benjamin, 1999)   Walter Benjamin’s idea contextualised in the production of knowledge, has been in my mind for years, as a new way to engage with inquiry, research and lately life. Even before being accepted to participate in the exciting RE-Dwell ITN, when I could only dream of it, I was seeking ways to reposition and redefine myself in line with this idea.   I honestly couldn’t imagine what a great opportunity would be eventually given to me through RE-DWELL’s multi-disciplinary network of people and activities. The moment of truth came with the 4-day Kick-off session, in which I was exposed for the first time in this juxtaposition with a number of incredibly talented researchers, supervisors and collaborators, coming from different countries, backgrounds, cultures and interests. And beyond any personal insecurity, stress or awkwardness the truth was rewarding; 4 days of seeking for connections, rich discussions, interesting definitions of the same concepts from different angles, overcoming any limitations that the new virtual operations bring.   Yet it was not in the amazing conversations and collaborations, the knowledge sharing, the multi-level engagement and many more that I find the success of this Kick-off session. Most significantly, it acted as a threshold, establishing the transition from the individual to the collective, providing the invaluable feeling that no one will be alone within this demanding yet exciting journey. It provided a sense of belonging and the formation of a community, in which all of us will have a foot on to share ideas, concerns and questions, in parallel to our individual research.   My inherent belief in this community makes my heart full of excitement for what follows!   ---------------------------- Benjamin, Walter. 1999. The Arcades Project. conv. N2,1, trans. Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 460.

Author: A.Pappa (ESR13)

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Embracing transdisciplinarity

Posted on 15-07-2021

I have to admit, before embarking on this journey with the Marie-Curie International Training Network I was unfamiliar with the term transdisciplinary. The work of myself and 14 other Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) will use this concept to carry out our research with RE-DWELL, crossing the boundaries of our respective projects within the areas of design, policy and finance, and community participation.   My first practical experience getting to grips with transdisciplinarity - in the context of learning – began with our kick-off workshops last week. This was the first opportunity to meet the other ESRs, hailing from Europe, the Middle East, and North and South America. As a part of the introductory sessions, we were tasked with defining sustainability, affordability and transdisciplinarity in small groups.   This was a particularly interesting task, as we were put in mixed groups with ESRs from different professional and academic backgrounds. It was also the first opportunity to speak one-to-one and get to know my fellow ESRs, and gain an understanding of their perspectives on the core issues of sustainability and affordability, relative to their field. My group consisted of two architects (myself included) and a political-scientist. Combining our mixed experiences brought up some interesting points which I am sure would not have been considered, had it just been limited to architects.   Since the current Covid-19 pandemic online working environments are now the norm. But it is hard to imagine otherwise how these workshops could have been delivered as efficiently and effectively. The use of visual concept boards and virtual breakout rooms meant we could be organised in groups and present information with ease (plus it meant we significantly reduced our carbon footprints!). Of course, this isn’t a replacement for in-person collaboration, and I look forward to meeting the ESRs and the wider training network in the coming months. However, these workshops have demonstrated the usefulness of online working environments to facilitate transdisciplinary learning.

Author: A.Davis (ESR1)

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Kick-off a sense of unity out of us being different!

Posted on 15-07-2021

Togetherness, belonging, a sense of comfort and connection plus an increased sense of responsibility towards the position I am assigned, are the cocktail of feelings I had by the end of the kick-off sessions. I should have kept that till the end of my blog, but I could not because now I want to lightly share with you how it started!  Hoping you enjoy it as I did.   Hi! What are you going to talk about Aya?   Ops! Yes, let me give you a hint. We are 15 young ambitious researchers (we are called ESRs Early-Stage Researchers) who have been selected for 15 research projects for Re-Dwell to investigate the affordability and sustainability of social housing in Europe and to conduct our PhD degree by the end of it! So, we have two jobs in one. We had 4 days of Kick-off sessions to introduce the young researcher, their supervisors, and the project partners to each other. And to inform us about how the workflow is going to be.   Before it starts ... To be appointed for a position for the Re-Dwell Research Project was a very international competitive process that I went through. That is why I was over the moon when I was selected to be ESR 4. So, I know my colleagues and all the attendees will be ‘la crème de la crème’ in the field and we are going to be enriching each other experience. Before the sessions start, I was curious, excited, and nervous at the same time. For me, it felt like it is my first day of work although it was not.   Let’s know each other and have a little discussion! The sessions started with a 2-minute recorded video by each ESR. Each one has his own unique character, his own different story, and life timeline. It was reflected in how each of us presented himself. we were all amazing! Then the supervisors shared with us their interests in research and life. The insights that captured my attention the most were the ones related to empathy, compassion, and the co-creation approach to integrating residents in the decision-making of their housing design and policies.     Then came the fun part to use Miro Board for the first time for almost all the ESRs! It is an online platform that allows all of us to draw charts and graphs together. We were more than 40 participants in the session, and we all used it at the same time to discover the affinities between us. There were quite a lot of them even though we are all from different parts of the world!    The sessions were well designed to be interfered with lots of interactive activities for the ESRs to talk with each other. It was a really good strategy to make us discuss ideas, opinions, and share our different perceptions of the 3 main key terms of this project: Sustainability, Affordability, and Transdisciplinary. We were asked to create mind maps for each term and each ESR will be working with different ESRs for each term. In the beginning, we were confused and wondering what to do for the first couple of minutes but then the conversation started, and the ideas flew and filled the Miro Board with mind maps.   Our transdisciplinarity! The term ‘Transdisciplinarity’ was the most interesting for me to discuss in the sessions as it is relatively new for me. It is a form of research that we are going to adopt in our research projects where different disciplines are crossing the boundaries of each other to find new solutions for complex problems. We are coming from different fields of expertise and educational background. In our case, affordability and sustainability are the two conflicting sides of the housing equation and our real challenge is to find a profound balance.     Finally, my mixed feelings moved to the calmer side! After the sessions and meeting all the participants involved, and feeling their enthusiasm, I felt calmer, happier, and much more excited to go through this interesting mysterious journey with the ‘la crème de la crème’ team to discover innovatively affordable, and sustainable housing solutions. It is not going to be easy! it is going to be a ton of work. After explaining to us the workflow of the whole Re-Dwell project, I felt there will be no time for anything else. That is why after these 4 sessions and realizing the 2 in 1 job I have now, I called my husband and told him ‘hmmm, I do not think I am going to be able to cook anything for the next 3 years, we will miss my cooking!’. I was joking with him but for sure I need to search as a researcher for other mom researchers to learn their secrets!   In the end, I remember when Professor Leandro Madrazo, our Re-Dwell Project Coordinator, gave us a speech before our last interview to be selected or not for this position, he told us ‘I wish you all the best, this opportunity is going to change your life!’. It is true! I knew it, I believed it and I am blessed to be now living it. It is the perfect challenge to extract together our best for the world.   This is the first time in my life to write a blog! I hope you enjoyed it! See you soon in the next one! Thank you! Bye! 

Author: A.Elghandour (ESR4)

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A start of a new chapter in my professional life!

Posted on 14-07-2021

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. This is a proverb  we are all familiar with, but not very often there is enough stress on that first single step. My PhD journey will evolve within the University of Zagreb, Faculty of Law, and it started with a leap, rather than a step. Over the course of four days, other Re-Dwell project Early Stage Researchers (that is how we are called) and myself were involved in layered and ambitious group work exercises, where we shared information about who we are and what we expect from the project. That leap helped me to slightly relax about the gaps in my knowledge and experience I believed I had about the topic of affordable and sustainable housing, and the end goal of developing my PhD thesis. However, the well structured exercise programme pointed out the real meaning of transdisciplinarity of the Re-Dwell approach. Not only we all had a chance to meet each other in smaller groups, but we also had a chance to share our research interests, ambitions and plans, which revealed many possible synergies and complementary topics that we agreed to follow and work on together throughout the project. These exercises were very helpful in identifying our educational background and work experience, which we then used in a group work trying to provide meaningful definitions on certain elements of the topic we will be studying. Throughout the group work, we have quickly become friends and companions on our journeys, and I can only say that now, at the beginning of my PhD journey, I look forward to collaborating with other PhD candidates and supervisors, all the hard work this project will bring.   

Author: M.Horvat (ESR6)

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