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We asked Annalisa what academic background she has that led to the title of professor.

- I graduated with a Ph.D. in Psychology in France in 2000 with a dissertation on the conversations and decision-making in an institution of the European Union. Then soon, my research interests led to a postdoc in the Communication Department at the University of California San Diego. After that, I worked in the Faculty of Education at the University of Salerno till 2008. That was a comeback to the original roots of my academic training, as my undergraduate studies were also in Education. The year at UCSD, however, was a turning point in my career when I discovered the research paradigm I had been looking for in cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT), answered Annalisa.

At University West, Annalisa is engaged in research and teaching in Work Integrated Learning. The collaboration with University West goes back to 2015, a period during which Annalisa has been developing the following research agenda for the fourth generation of (CHAT), centered on the following themes: Cross-sectoral and multilevel collaboration to eradicate youth homelessness; Research-mediated participatory governance to respond to acute poverty-related needs; The critical role scholarship on learning and organizing can play to support transformative agency for equity and sustainability.

- My research toolkit combines resources from cultural-historical activity theory, pragmatic discourse analyses, and the methodology of formative interventions. I am interested in how collective learning takes place and can lead to a transformative agency to support change in societies.

What are your motivations as a researcher?

- In a way, my main drive is to contribute to reshaping research in the learning sciences. I see research as activism. I want to push the boundaries of academic research toward participation with actors outside the university in ways that have not yet been explored.

At University West, Annalisa closely collaborates with Lars Svensson, Kristina Johansson, Maria Spante and Anette Bolin on themes related to CHAT-based formative interventions in work and communities.

What at University West makes you appreciate working there?

- University West is at the forefront regarding Work Integrated Learning, says Annalisa. As such, it has been taking several initiatives to foster significant developments in Work Integrated Learning with the help of CHA. This research paradigm offers conceptual and methodological tools for participatory analyses and design processes in which societal actors and researchers can invest in long-term sustainable transformations of dysfunctional activities.

A recent event organized by Maria Spante, in Capetown, has brought together researchers from Nordic countries and Africa to discuss aspects of this theme. This consolidates cutting-edge research in Work Integrated Learning informed by CHAT across continents, continues Annalisa. 

What future dreams do you have?

- I hope this collaboration with UW will lead to developments that will place Work Integrated Learning at the core of multi-disciplinary international debates on the most acute challenges of our time, including conflict resolution, climate work, and work for counteracting poverty. A better world can be realized, and to an extent, is already being realized by many collective efforts that often remain invisible or distant from one another. Work Integrated Learning has a very strong potential to contribute to this state of affairs, finishes Annalisa.