Border Crossing

Field Research with Students

In recent years borders, boundaries and border crossing have been researched especially within the (relatively new) academic field of border studies. In this project the relevance of borders and boundaries for young people has been investigated in participatory research with school students of ‘Integrative Lernwerkstatt Brigittenau’.

In our last Sparkling Science-project called ‘Tricks of the Trade’ we had observed that students dealt with many possible boundaries such as gender, age, nationality, religion, language, disability and sexual orientation. In this project we asked which boundaries students perceive as highly relevant in their lives and which ways of border crossing they develop. It was important for us to include concepts developed within border studies (e.g. Mignolo, Anzaldúa) and we looked for the students’ capacities to take an active role in these processes: Do they (try to) position themselves in a space in-between borders (take the ‘borderland’ perspective)? Do they perceive borders and boundaries as something difficult or restrictive or does crossing borders (also) offer opportunities? We elaborated on these questions in participatory research projects with the students: The trained researchers accompanied the students to find research topics, research questions and adequate methods and coached them in their research process. The school we had chosen to work with ‘Integrative Lernwerkstatt Brigittenau’ offered heterogenous classes with students of diverse age, social backgrounds and abilities and was therefore an ideal partner for our research endeavor.

Both partners, ‘Integrative Lernwerkstatt Brigittenau’ and the research organization Science Communications Research (SCR) planned to implement a long-term co-operation. Researchers and teachers will produce teaching material for the key area ‘social learning’ and the former will communicate the capacities in workshops for teachers. Furthermore, students can participate in the activities of SCR in the course of ‘berufspraktische Tage’ in the 8th grade.

This project has been completed.