21 Feb 2019

Building the RECLAS narrative

About a week before Christmas, two dozen Jyväskylä Language Campus researchers gathered together for the RECLAS Christmas Event to craft the building blocks for a multi-voiced RECLAS narrative, share their RECLAS experiences and stories, to plan the future and enjoy good company and food.

The event took place in the Restaurant Harmooni, located in the historic Jugend Building at the centre of Jyväskylä. Harmooni offered an inspiring and charming space where individual researchers from various stages of their research career reflected on their experiences, feelings and thoughts of RECLAS, what it has offered to them and could offer in the future.

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The event included a 2-hour RECLAS narrative workshop which was facilitated by Pasi Ikonen who has got experience in promoting science communication. Before the narrative workshop, some innovative methods were used to get people’s minds into thinking about their belonging to the RECLAS collegium. Pasi asked each individual participant to reflect on their position in RECLAS and show this without any words, through embodiment. That is, we were asked to form a line. In that line we were asked to seek a spot that showed our position in the collegium in the continuum of core to peripheral membership. Researchers who actively engage in RECLAS or are part of its strategy group, positioned themselves more towards the core than those who have been able to join only some activities.

The next task was to express, again with our standing bodies, with whom we feel most affiliated with in RECLAS. The results of these two exercises were in fact a line and then a gathering of people resembling a rhizome where the strings have different types of relations to each other, expressed through touching bodies or hands for example, and with smiling faces. These two physical and mental exercises did good for the brain, were fun and prepared us for the actual narrative workshop.

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In order to build a narrative and to develop further as a research collegium, we formed three groups of people who worked on three tasks. One of them was to design a poster for RECLAS using our imagination and creativity. In the second task we crafted a comic strip that illustrated individual thoughts about belonging to the RECLAS community. The third, a brainstorming task, resulted in various post-it notes spelling out the outcomes of RECLAS activities, including a number of visiting colleagues, seminars, publication projects and new research groups and wishes for the future which pondered around novel ways to outreach, connect and share ideas. After intensive and fun work, we were treated with tasty dinner and informal get-together which offered ample time to share (non)academic matters with each other.

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As RECLAS is now half way through its funding period, this narrative workshop gave a lot of food for thought, new and renewed contacts and an optimistic look for the future and the year 2019.

(All photos: Petteri Kivimäki)

Tiina Räisänen

About the author

Tiina Räisänen

Postdoctoral researcher, University of Jyväskylä