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Turning the spotlight on students

Johan and Ragnhild are the first-ever conference coordinators at the UiB Collaboratory. This spring, they are up to something big …

Johan and Ragnhild

Since the beginning of November, two new faces have been prominent around the CET-premises, and we are now happy to announce our brand-new student coordinators: Johan Elfving and Ragnhild Ødegaard.

Coming from different backgrounds – Johan from comparative politics and Ragnhild from human geography – the two are joint by their passion for placing students at the centre-stage of university education.

– There are so many great students out there, Johan says.

– They should be shown off more often!

Many university students feel like they are not invited to actively take part in their education. With the majority of learning activities being one-directional and occurring within the lecture halls, students rarely get to be the decisive force of what, and how, they learn.

– Ever since I started my university studies in 2010, I have noticed a distance between students and professors. The professors are the ones with the knowledge, while the students are easily rendered passive receivers of information, Ragnhild argue.

However, that is about to change.

Launching: Bergen International Student Conference (BISC) 

Johan and Ragnhild are the first student coordinators at the UiB Collaboratory – a CET initiative that places students at the centre of university education. Rather than asking what the University has to offer, the UiB Collaboratory is asking, “What do the students want and need to learn?”

The first step towards such a revolutionising of education is a student-led conference. Yes, that’s right: An academic conference for students, by students.

The first-ever Bergen International Student Conference – or BISC if you want – will take place in Bergen in early April. The conference theme will be ‘Climate and Society: Transformations in the 21th Century’.

– The goal is to create a platform for international student collaboration. We hope that students across borders and disciplines will get to know each other and learn from each other, Johan says.

The conference will be a venue for students at Bachelor and Master’s level to present their work. This can be based on their theses, but an exam or a course paper can also form the basis for a submission. If the idea is good, the contribution is welcome.

The conference seeks to challenge the notion that academic work below PhD-level is often not recognized as academic inputs.

Johan and Ragnhild are well on their way to plan the first BISC, but need help from other engaged students.

– You don’t have to be a PhD student for your work to be valuable, Johan argue.

– At Bachelor or Master’s levels you may already have developed important academic points that can contribute to the debate, Ragnhild adds.

Does this sound like something for you? Check out the conference CALL FOR CONTRIBUTIONS.

Low bar – and great practise!

Being students themselves, the conference coordinators are aware that submitting an abstract and presenting one’s work at an academic conference can sound a bit intimidating.

– But this is a friendly environment, Ragnhild soothes.

– And remember that your audience are students too. We are all at the same level.

Johan and Ragnhild see this as a key arena for students seeking to practice presenting their work.

– This is valuable experience that will definitely be helpful later on – both in academic, and non-academic, life, Johan says.

Building a team of the best

In the coming month, Johan and Ragnhild will put together a team that will make the conference live up to its fullest potential. But they cannot do it alone.

– We need engaged students with various skills and interests, Ragnhild explains.

The conference student group will work with various tasks: From taking pictures and promoting the conference on social media, to reviewing submissions and securing the academic output of the conference.

– We hope to gather students who are engaged in student learning and that are eager to create the best possible student-led conference, Johan says.

Are you what Johan and Ragnhild are looking for? Get in touch with them on collaboratory@uib.no