The project is a joint initiative between Ghent University (prof. dr. Herwig REYNAERT and dr. Tom VERHELST), the Universities of Lille DS and SHS (MCF Thomas PERRIN and prof. Béatrice TOUCHELAY) and the University of Louvain UCL (prof. Fabienne LELOUP). It connects various academic disciplines to focus on transversal elements of the cross-border situation, raise a wide variety of questions and enrich the academic debate.
a. Objectives (short/medium term)
The project aims to help participating students in getting familiar with the specificities of the cross-border situation and to valorise the opportunities offered by that position. It also aims to develop exchanges between those students concerning their research area (for PhD), studies (Masters) and working perspectives.
The project aims at establishing personal links between students coming from Wallonia, France or Flanders that do not know each other so as to create a network of cross-border contacts and exchange. It further allows those students to get involved in a number of cross-border programmes. Included in the perspectives offered by the institute, Frontières et discontinuities. In addition, this project aims at establishing a medium-term collaboration between the host institution and the other institutions that participate in the joint project.
b. Previous cooperation
The project builds further on a successful cooperation between the three institutions in 2017 (F2BF), which involved a field visit (Ieper, Godewaersvelde, Tournai) and the presentation of the research work of three student groups at the Université de Lille. Prof Touchelay and prof Reynaert took part of the visit but no Flemish students were involved and only a dozen of students were concerned with the project.
F. Leloup, T. Perrin and H. Reynaert have be partners in 2016-2018 for the F2BF project, bringing students from two masters along the border. However that experience has shown that it is important to bring motivated students and to make them meet cross-border operators.
B. Touchelay, F.Leloup, T. Perrin are members of tjhe Franco-Belgian Institute « Frontières et discontinuités » ; various outputs have been produced at the level of the institute (books, conferences, ‘University Diploma’)
c. Planned activities
The academic coordinators plan one meeting to prepare the field visits of the students and two exploratory visits to the sites in Tourcoing and Tournai.
Afterwards, the students will undertake field visits related to the topic of cross-border activity. A visit of the Musée de la vie frontalière de Godewaersvelde is going to show the porosity of the limits between legal and illegal work in a cross-border zone, smuggling being a traditional activity of the region of Godewaersvelde since the border exists. In a second field visit students will meet the program managers of Interreg in Tournai, who are specialists of the question of cross-border work and cross-borders workers. This visit will allow to inform the students about possible assets as well as limits created by the cross-border situation. Finally, a visit of l’Ecole des Douanes de Tourcoing and the presentation of its mission and the mission of its customers in the European context (Schengen) would complete the information of the students.
The participating students in the journey will be individually invited to take photos of the visited places (particularly the places which embody the presence of a border) and to draft a report of their visits. Students will also be asked to transcribe the interviews of Tournai. That documentation will be integrated into the site of l’institut des Frontières et discontinuités and into the site of the franco-Belgian Institute of Borders and Discontinuities (http://ifd.hypotheses.org/) and into the website of the university laboratories which wish to use it. The participating students will also open a discussion forum for a few months to extend and revitalize their exchanges and to answer possible questions about their visits. They will present their report within the framework of the doctoral schools or the seminars of Master’s degree of their universities. Students of all levels and every program will be invited at these presentations.