Research – the other part of the academic life

For most students, UNYP, and universities at large, are associated with teaching – they mean lectures, seminars, in-class discussions and home assignments. However, an integral part of academic life is also research.

While universities do provide training and instruction to the students, one of their purposes is to conduct investigations of the social and natural world, and to engage in exchanges with the larger academic community via participation in conferences and workshops, expert debates, and sharing knowledge by publishing in academic journals and publishing houses. So although the research aspect might not be as visible in the everyday life of universities such as UNYP, it is very much a bread and butter for many members of the individual Schools. Writing grant applications that provide funding for the envisioned research projects, conducting interviews, experiments and document analysis, drafting academic articles and preparing presentations for academic peers are only some of the activities that lecturers and professors occupy themselves outside of the classroom.

At the same time, research should not considered as separate from teaching as the two are in fact closely related to each other. For many of the UNYP staff members, and academics in general, there is a close link between the classes they deliver and their research agenda. Lecturers offer classes in fields in which they have expertise and they have conducted research in. They further often use the examples from their own projects and findings in the classroom as well, thus further highlighting the link between their teaching and research activities. Members of academic staff also present results of their research in public events for students and interested audience at UNYP and other venues.

In recent years, some scholars and experts on education have argued that universities should strive to incorporate research and teaching into each other even further. These authors propose that students should be more closely involved in the research conducted at the given institution in various ways. They advocate for hiring students as research assistants, who would then participate in university lecturers’ projects, collect data, and provide other help and support. Others have suggested that at least some classes should require the students to formulate and carry out their own larger independent research projects as it would enrich their skillset and at the same time truly embody the spirit of university as a site of both consuming and producing knowledge.

These suggestions have not been heeded yet at most universities. Still, they show how important research is for university life and community.

Written by Jakub Zahora, Research Lead, School of International Relations

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