Transformations in European Societies

By Chiara Cocco and Leri Price

In May 2023, members of the IRC visited Berlin to take part in the Transformations in European Societies (TiES) doctoral programme. TiES connects doctoral students and academic staff from selected universities in Scotland, Austria, Croatia, Switzerland, Spain, Germany, Israel, and Denmark through a biannual programme of seminars and presentations.

The programme examines European societies in a state of change, tracing the effects of these changes and situating these reflections within a global context. TiES provides a platform for students to present their work and receive feedback from peers and professors, and to establish links that may result in future collaborations. 

The network is usually hosted by one of the member universities, which also offers its members a chance to visit different places and experience their culture.  This spring meeting, themed ‘Creative Transformations’, took a slightly different form as it was kindly hosted by the Museum of European Cultures.  Dr Alastair Mackie, an affiliate member of the IRC who obtained his PhD at Heriot-Watt, organised the meeting in Berlin and made sure to keep the participants busy with exciting activities and events.   

In line with the theme of the event, students and staff had the opportunity to engage creatively with the various topics of the programme.  Dr Katerina Strani started off by chairing a thought-provoking workshop about fieldwork and creative methods in research.  Following on, Dr Britta Kalkreuter encouraged professors and students to reflect on the future of TiES through a half-day living lab.  Although not a formal part of the programme, both professors celebrated their birthdays in the course of the week, a TiES first!

On the last day, students and staff were not just given a tour of the Museum, but participated in a workshop where they were tasked with creating an exhibition about their interpretations of the meanings of Europe.

Doctoral students from the IRC Leri Price and Chiara Cocco also attended the meeting, with Chiara presenting an update on her doctoral project about cultural festivals in Europe. 

Meeting peers from all over Europe and sharing knowledge has been crucial for forging strong links that result in cutting-edge collaborations. As an example, three student members of TiES, including one current and one former HWU student, have established a podcast that communicates anthropological theories to non-academic audiences.   

HWU is proud to be a member of TiES, and to encourage its students to build strong links with colleagues and institutions across Europe.

LINCS students go to Brussels!

On the 6th and 7th of June, 11 of our M.A. and MSc students who specialise in conference interpreting were welcomed at the EU Commission by EU interpreters from the Directorate General for Interpretation.

This 2-day visit, which LINCS was able to secure thanks to its status as DGI-SCIC university partner, was hosted by Joanne O’Donnell, from the English and Irish Unit. Joanne visited our Heriot-Watt campus earlier this week as part of one of the pedagogical assistance visits LINCS secured for the 2022-2023 academic year, and she is herself a graduate from our M.A. programme.

As part of this visit, our students had a chance to get some valuable insight into the life of EU interpreters and receive detailed information on the new accreditation test procedures which have been introduced, thanks to a talk by the Head of Unit. The visit also included a preparatory session, looking at how EU interpreters work in the run-up to a specific assignment, and then students were able to put their preparation to the test during the meeting, working from dummy booths.

This fantastic opportunity enabled them to listen to professional interpreters at work during a live event; they were also able to practice interpreting off-mic and benefitted from valuable feedback from the team of EU interpreters who were on hand to support them. The visit culminated with a mock test, during which two of our final-year M.A. students volunteered to take a test in conditions similar to the ones they would encounter in authentic conditions, but with the added bonus of being able to hear the jury deliberations. This exciting challenge gave them an insight into what is expected of successful candidates, and they were able to put their 4 years of training to the test. Both students were delighted to hear that their performance would earn them a “pass” in test conditions, and left even more motivated than before.

But the real added bonus of the visit was undoubtedly the friendly welcome extended to the group, and the many opportunities to chat informally and network with DGI-SCIC interpreters and interns, and with several of our LINCS graduates. One of them has recently passed the tests himself, and was very happy to share his experience and some useful tips over lunch in between meetings, and over Belgian chips after his day in the booth, alongside other local LINCS graduates. A very inspiring 2-day visit, perfectly timed to motivate our M.A. students who found out their exam results the night before the start of the visit!