Joining the ranks of the Faculty of Education’s many global partnerships is the International Alliance, a network that connects McGill with four world-leading universities in education: Monash University, Stanford University, Oxford University, and University of Hong Kong.
Last month, Monash University hosted a graduate research student exchange at their campus in Melbourne, Australia, to develop meaningful scholarly connections and establish purposeful research links across international contexts. Monash’s Faculty of Education invited a graduate student from each of the International Alliance partner universities to participate in their Spring School and to attend the Monash Education Research Community (MERC) Conference.
The McGill International Institute of Education (MIIE) nominated Jayne Malenfant for the exchange. Malenfant is a doctoral student at the Faculty of Education’s Department of Integrated Studies in Education (DISE), and her research speaks to the fundamental right to education for youth who have experienced homelessness. Several organizations have recognized the significance of her work: in 2018, Malenfant received both the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Scholarship and the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship for her research project.
Monash’s Spring School marked Malenfant’s first international exchange. “I have been thinking a lot about how I never thought I would have an opportunity to come to Australia in my life, so now to be here for an exchange to talk about research I am doing and learning about the exciting research of others – it's an amazing thing,” Malenfant said in an email.
The participating scholars were asked to present their work at the MERC conference as well as sit on a panel to share their experiences as a doctoral student within their respective universities. They were also encouraged to take time for self-directed activities and to meet with other researchers or groups from their respective fields.
Malenfant acknowledged she first thought exchange would be a unique learning opportunity but perhaps not directly relevant to her work in Montréal. “Instead, I've learned about amazing organizations that are serving homeless youth in unique ways here in Australia,” she said. “I've learned that the same populations that are overrepresented in homeless youth demographics are overrepresented here. I've met folks who want to collaborate in Indonesia and work with youth there in similar ways to foster critical thinking and political action in the middle of precarity.”
Malenfant was able to present her research project with her peers as well as share successes from other community-based projects she has participated in. “People in Melbourne are surprisingly interested in what is happening in some small community gardens in Montréal as well!”
Malenfant hopes more McGill students have the opportunity to travel with their research interests and gain new cultural, ethical, and social perspectives for their work. She also sees several benefits in connecting students working on similar issues in their respective contexts as McGill and its partner universities from the International Alliance’s ties grow stronger.
“Noting the similarities and differences (and challenges in learning) from Canadian and Australian settler colonial states has been an amazing learning experience,” she said. “It has really helped to connect some dots that I think I knew were out there, but are much more tangible and visible to me now.”
Find out more about the International Alliance and Monash Education's Spring School here.