A Non-Citizen Visits his Former Home

Dr Duncan Ross visits Europe, immediately post-Brexit.  

So, the UK exited the EU on Friday 31st January. On Tuesday 4th February, I took a flight from Glasgow to Schiphol with some trepidation. As I entered the EU, no longer a citizen of the 27 countries who had committed to work together to deliver peace and prosperity across the Continent, I felt a mixture of shame, embarrassment and anger.

My first meetings with colleagues at Erasmus University Rotterdam, however, reminded me of the continued commitment to the ideals of sharing, learning from each other and internationalism that have always been at the centre of the GLOCAL project. Ironically, I was there largely to discuss the potential impact in the event that the University Glasgow is no longer able to act as the coordinating institution. As always, however, collegiality and friendship will find a way forward and the programme – whatever happens – will be safe for the full funding period through to 2025.

I then spent a fantastic evening with some of the students currently studying in Rotterdam. It was great to see them, to hear their enthusiasm for their courses and the city and to be reminded what a talented and committed bunch they are.

The next day saw me take a train from Rotterdam to Göttingen. First, we extended the GLOCAL academic network into a PhD workshop at which we had presentations from students at Göttingen, Glasgow and Kyoto. This was a really interesting and rewarding event, showcasing some of the truly excellent work being carried out by researchers at the three universities, and reinforcing the close connections that we are building.

Then it was onto two full days of thesis idea presentations by the GLOCAL students. I continue to be amazed by their imagination and ambition, but 27 presentations made for two very intense and challenging days. Having to say something intelligent every 30 minutes for 7 hours each day was well beyond my capacity, but fortunately there was a wonderful, enjoyable and friendly dinner on the Friday evening to refresh body and mind. And refreshment was greatly enjoyed, even if it meant a rather sparse attendance at the presentations on the following morning!

I left grateful for the time I got to spend with my brilliant colleagues and students, reminded once more of the fun, excitement and hard, but rewarding, work that is this adventure we call GLOCAL and how lucky we are to be able to work with some of the best and brightest young people from around the world. There are some in the UK who argue that international cooperation is a bad thing. I will never understand or adopt that position.

Duncan Ross
12 February 2020.


Date: February 20, 2020 5:00 pm


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