As an instructor I always consider project day to be a highlight of the UCR year. The cakes and cool drinks help, but the real feast is the students presenting the work that they worked on for a year. The discussions with senior students, and colleagues, on the work that spans all corners of the Liberal Arts and Sciences and really shows how far students can get in three years.
Of course, this year was different. And yet, so much was like a real project day. The sense of wonder at the distance that students covered within a year, for instance. I well remember our Cities of Refuge seminar, last summer, with students who were very enthusiastic but often had nothing but a vague interest in researching ‘something relating to migration’. And now: focused projects, full research done, myriads of obstacles overcome. Whether it concerned crimmigration at the local level, the relationship between the degree of federalism and decoupling, the role of civil society in shaping Geneva’s migration policies, religion and refugee welcome or undocumented health care in Madrid and Barcelona compared. All projects were focused and really added to our understanding of refugee reception in law and in action. All those collective seminar and individual meetings had paid off, as had all the hard work that students put into their projects.
We might have been online, but the discussions were also exactly the same as on a real project day. Critical second readers, and students answering with confidence. Friends and other instructors offering their perspective. Always too little time in relation to the interest of the topic.
I would even venture that a digital project day has some advantages. Parents, grandparents and friends zooming in from abroad, for one, able to catch a glimpse of this part of UCR education. The experimenting with videos that our students did, and that conveyed the main message even more. Also, where I miss the people, the absence of all those cakes and cookies must have done something to stop those corona-kilos that I’ve gained!
If you’d like to see some of the presentations: