Meet the BILT Community, News

Meet the Student Fellows… Carla Forster

Hi, my name is Carla and I’m one of the five BILT Student Fellows this year! My theme is “Research-rich teaching, learning and assessment”, where I’ll be working together with Izzy and responsible for delivering the now fifth edition of the Student Research Journal. I’m in the third and final year of my Politics and International Relations BSc and am looking at eventually go into work in policy and research.  I’m originally from Cologne in Germany and moved to Bristol two years ago. Alongside my degree and job at BILT, I’m involved in volunteering with a local charity, so I’m usually quite busy, but when I’m not hidden in the corner of some library I enjoy doing Martial Arts. I picked up Karate when I came to Uni and enjoy pushing myself every week – and it’s great to let some steam off. Otherwise, I like to experiment with sewing my own clothes and spend time in the nature around Bristol. 

Last year, I worked as a Research Assistant in the School of Education, on a project evaluating the “Bristol Model” – a series of internship projects organised by the Professional Liaison Network that consisted of partnerships between the University and local organisations. Students worked on these projects as interns and my team evaluated the experience of these students. We found that one of the key elements to the success of the model was that it broke up traditional academic power structures – students were working with senior academics on eye-to-eye level, which is something most participants, including me, had never experienced. This boiled down to students and their research being taken seriously – and I felt like there was a lot of unused potential for this type of work.

It is crucial to foster a culture and opportunities at university that allow students to pursue their own research and having their work published – it encourages more active participation in academia and is a great way to motivate students to develop their skills and academic interests. Working as Research Assistant on the Bristol Model was a really formative experience for me that made me much more confident in my own abilities as a researcher, and we observed the same in the other students who had participated in the project. Getting this experience and confidence in academic research led me on to getting involved with the Bristol Social Science Review – I wanted to apply the skills I developed to research on topics I was interested in myself. I’ve written on democracy, extremism and German politics and went on the be the Guest Lead Editor for the BSSR 2023 Summer Edition, which gave me a taste of editing and what it is like to manage a publication.

Having the BILT Journal is great to help bridge the gap between students and the often very distant seeming work of what we see as ‘serious’ academia. I’m very happy to be able to support that for this cohort, building on the work of the previous Student Fellows, and excited to see where we can take the journal this year. I’m looking forward to working with the team at BILT and anyone interested in the Student Journal in the coming months!

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