The field is central to the entire project and features in all aspects of the curriculum; we believe that continuous interaction with the people and place being studied is necessary to produce insight about the realities of the rapidly transforming region, and to communicate them to the reading public.
Students will complete a 12-month course of training, divided into three phases.
– Connecting to the field (2 months). This phase develops the skills researchers need to conduct field research in an effective, safe, and ethical manner. It is primarily lecture and discussion based, with several short exercises in ‘the field’ (at the site of training meetings and in follow-up work online).
- Reading and background information: participants will read about research methods and several exemplary articles, as well as background information on all themes of the project
- Note taking: a training session on how to take notes, both in general and while in the field (includes practical assignment to be completed in the field)
- Relationship between the researcher and the object of study: lecture and discussion on the positionality of the local researcher and research ethics, including how to handle oneself in the field and developing one’s personality as a researcher
- Micro-observation: training and practical exercises in turning small-scale interactions in the field into materials to support a larger argument, e.g., small linguistic changes like new idioms, words, or means of expression coming into use in a particular community.
– Getting involved in the field (4 months). This phase guides the researcher through the initial stages of field research and trains him/her in how to use insights from the field to develop a coherent argument. The primary focus of this phase is the researcher’s work in the field, supported by exercises completed there. - developing a research question and argument: lectures at a session bringing all participants together will provide explanation and examples and participants will develop working versions of their own research question argument, later submitting revised versions of both from the field.
- Primary sources: lectures will cover various forms of primary materials and how to gather them (e.g., how to set up, conduct, and record information from interviews), with exercises to be completed once participants return to their field site.
- How to analyze materials: training will provide examples of how primary sources are used to both shape an argument and create text supportive of that argument, with exercises to be completed based upon participants own primary materials.
- Amplifying the voice of the field (6 months): This phase helps researchers turn materials collected in Phase 2 into polished written work ready to submit to editors for publication. Lectures will provide instruction and examples, with participants submitting parts of drafts as exercises and receiving extensive feedback on partial and full drafts.
- Constructing the essay: how to take the main claim and field-based materials from Phase 2 and create a fleshed-out essay, including outlining, fitting materials into the outline, and turning these components into prose.
- Styles of writing: lectures will acquaint participants with several article formats predominant in the publications targeted by the program (e.g., long-form journalism, policy reports, expository essays)
- Writing style and economy: lectures will cover best practices for communicating clearly and concisely across all formats.
- Other styles of communication: training will cover creation of non-print materials, including maps and data visualization, and how to present orally, including with the use of slides.
- Publishing: discussion of how to approach editors, pitch work, and navigate the process of revising drafts in response to editor comments and requests.
At Mintaqa we are laying down the foundations of a research community that is united around a set of three core principles: the craft itself, the field, and knowledge production. We strive go beyond just developing a set of research skills, creating opportunity for networking, and producing studies; we offer a space for professionals and trainees to collectively contemplate and think about fundamental questions concerning the essence of the craft they aim to master, the field they seek to leverage, and the knowledge they strive to produce.