GLOCAL students have the option to do a collaborative dissertation – these are similar to a normal dissertation but also involve an institution or organisation where a student undertakes a placement. The dissertation then centres around a topic or a field of research that the organisation focuses on, with the materials, knowledge, resources, and expertise on the matter being accessible to the student as they work for the organisation. In short, collaborative dissertations are a unique opportunity to conduct research and learn from an organisation that specialises in that area in the process. You can find out more about GLOCAL dissertations here.

We recently caught up with GLOCAL Cohort V student Ken Goigner, who used his collaborative dissertation to investigate the social and environmental impacts of a softwood sawmill in the north of Argentina. We recently caught up with Ken to talk about his collaborative dissertation, how he found his placement, the skills he gained in the process, and his tips for students about to start their GLOCAL journey – read his thoughts below.

Tell us a bit about your collaborative dissertation subject and why you chose it?

My collaborative dissertation aims to investigate the social and environmental impacts of a softwood sawmill in the north of Argentina. I chose this dissertation subject since the timber industry has the potential to play a significant role in the green transition, contributing to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly economy. Timber is a renewable resource that can substitute for carbon-intensive materials and energy sources. For me personally, it is very rewarding to be part of a research project that takes environmental stewardship and emphasis sustainable practices. I am really honoured to be working with Acon Timber in Argentina as this allows me to combine my passions about sustainabilty and timber within a Latin American context.

Tell us a bit about the process of finding your placement?

I started to look for opportunities abroad by consulting the Austrian commerce chambers in Latin America. Through the office in Buenos Aires, I came into contact with Acon Timber, a subsidiary of the Austrian timber company HS Timber Group. After an initiative application, several interviews followed to stake out mutual interests and define the framework of collaboration.

What skills do you feel you have gained as a result of doing a collaborative dissertation?

Engaging in a collaborative dissertation provides an opportunity to develop a diverse set of skills that go beyond traditional academic research. I learnt to effectively communicate my research ideas, progress, and findings to diverse audiences with varying needs. I also gained practical research skills that are directly applicable to real-world situations by adapting research methods to address industry challenges and produce actionable outcomes. Another important skill is the ability to navigate the dynamic nature of industry partnerships, adjust research plans as per evolving priorities, and accommodate feedback from different stakeholders. Finally, collaborative dissertations require adhering to ethical considerations, confidentiality agreements, and professional standards through which I learnt to maintain research integrity and uphold professional conduct.

How do you balance your placement with other elements of GLOCAL and other commitments?

Collaborative dissertations often require coordinating multiple tasks, timelines, and resources. Through effective project management, including setting goals, planning research activities, allocating resources, and meeting deadlines I manage to balance the needs and expectations of both academic and industry partners, ensuring the smooth progress of the research project.

Why should people study GLOCAL in 2023?

GLOCAL allow students to explore and integrate knowledge from multiple disciplines ranging from business, history, and sustainability. It offers a holistic approach to understanding complex global topics, as it combines insights, theories, and methodologies from various fields. This integration can lead to a deeper understanding of the subject matter and the ability to see connections and patterns that might be missed when studying within a single discipline. Furthermore, GLOCAL offers their students the opportunity to immerse themselves in different cultural and academic environments and gain a global perspective. Studying abroad can broaden one’s horizons, foster cross-cultural understanding, and enhance personal and professional development. If you want to become part of the international GLOCAL family, take the next step and apply for this unique opportunity!

And finally, what tips would you have for people about to start their GLOCAL journey in September? Why should they consider doing a collaborative dissertation?

I advise you to think about why you want to participate in the GLOCAL program and to check in with those reasons frequently, to make sure you stick to the goals you established for yourself at the beginning. GLOCAL give much freedom of scope, therefore it’s up to each of us to seize the chance and make the program our own program! I can heartily advise making the extra effort to contact organizations and businesses that express interest in collaborating with you on your dissertation. This will enhance your research, equip you with essential professional skills and provide the opportunity to take part in research that may directly impact industry practices.