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Negotiating differences: A resource for enhancing learning and capacity building in fieldwork

This report follows on from a number of recently commissioned HEA workshops and reports around fieldwork issues. In particular this report came about from the GEES fieldwork special interest group workshop held in Sheffield where it emerged that across the GEES disciplines the nature of differences that students have to engage in has only been partially recognised by educators. It emerged that there are specific issues around negotiating difference during fieldwork which are either not fully reflected upon by students or not engaged with in much detail during methods training and fieldwork planning.

A common understanding among educators has usually been that negotiating difference cannot be taught because of the specific and divergent nature of differences that one has to negotiate in the field and therefore students can only really learn about difference through immersion in the field. These views come from valid concerns around the formalisation and universalization (and often inadequacy) of ethical approvals in understanding difference. In an increasingly global world however students are able to move freely across locations even before commencing university-based field study and therefore experiences and understanding of differences may be formed long before entering higher education. Higher education institutions therefore need to be proactive in fieldwork training around negotiating all forms of difference. This is also because cultural differences are key to gaining entry and successfully conducting fieldwork in diverse settings be they familiar contexts close to home or far away „exotic‟ places.

GEES_Negotiating_Differences.pdf View Document

The materials published on this page were originally created by the Higher Education Academy.