What connects academic research with everyday life? During their studies Marco Aperti and Erik Vermunt encountered a gap between the academic environment and everyday life, a disconnection between abstract theory and the real world. To bridge this gap they set out to converse with four PhD-students from the Arts and Culture department of Erasmus University Rotterdam.
Sharing an informal drink with these young, aspiring scholars, Marco and Erik aim to reveal the relatable side of research by prying into personal lives and understanding the abstract world of scholarship from a personal level. These trialogues are equal conversations about life and the considerations that come with it, helping us understand the practice of research beyond research jargon.
The podcast ‘Research in Reach’ is a series of 4 episodes, created by Marco Aperti and Erik Vermunt, and is published weekly by Culture Calling! Listen with us to the inspiring thoughts of Valeria Morea, Shirley Nieuwland, Aria Daga and Liesbeth De Strooper, and see the world of abstract studies through their eyes.
#4 - Liesbeth De Strooper: Impressionism and the essence of academia
For the final episode of Research in Reach’s first season, Marco and Erik road-tripped all the way to Leuven, to talk with Liesbeth De Strooper. Liesbeth is an art historian and cultural economist. She likes her research topic so much that she is certain it’ll never tire. Despite this passion, it was not what enticed her to start a PhD—the teaching at university lured her into a career in academia and she feels her classes come closest to acting in front of an audience, without actually being an actor. She likes to make people laugh and make students enthusiastic about art history. We can attest to this, Liesbeth’s classes were a sunny break on tedious-classes days.
After a thorough recap on Impressionism, the three end up in a deep conversation about the essence of academia. Liesbeth admits to the slight ivory-tower-ness of her research, but the humanist side of her does not necessarily deem this to be a problem. Should universities prepare students for the job market, or should academia produce knowledge for knowledge’s sake? Listen to the final episode and shape your own opinion.
#3 - Aria Daga: the informal creative economy in the slums of Mumbai
In the third episode of Research in Reach, PhD-student Aria Daga takes us along on a journey to the slums of Mumbai. Ever since she made the move to Rotterdam she has started to look at her home-country India through different eyes. Her discovery of hip-hop music straight out of one of the biggest slums of the country induced her to write a PhD about the thriving ecosystem of the informal economy. What makes hip-hop from the slums of Mumbai so special? What is it like to study this phenomenon from such a distance?
The discussion offers a personal account of Aria’s rediscovery of Indian culture, her surprise in encountering experiences she never knew existed, and her personal journey of exploring the academic field. We will stumble upon Aria’s family, culture, her interests, and we will — of course — listen to some of her hip-hop favourites. Listen along and discover an unexpected place for a thriving economy and an unexpected journey to starting a PhD.
#2 - Shirley Nieuwland: sustainability and tourism
In the second episode of Research in Reach, hosts Marco and Erik converse with PhD-student Shirley Nieuwland about sustainable tourism. How has doing research changed her personal approach to travelling? Where should cities put their focus when it comes to tourism? How do you ensure that your research leads to a practical outcome and is discussed beyond the academic environment?
The three of them discuss the balance between tourists and locals, sharing insights with a larger public on Shirley’s blog, and the struggles of travelling sustainably with others. Whether you are travelling close to home or around the world, Shirley’s insight might just enhance your next tourist adventure.
#1 - Valeria Morea: public space as a commons
In the first episode of Research in Reach, hosts Marco Aperti and Erik Vermunt interview PhD-student Valeria Morea on the role and uses of public space. What is important in and about a public space? Are we using or creating a space? While enjoying an aperitivo on the sunny terrace of Valeria’s apartment, they touch upon the theory of the Commons, Valeria’s role in academia, sharing insights with her family, and the practical outcome of her research. Get to know Valeria and find some common ground and common sense about public space.