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During the conference, keynotes were interspersed with seminars and workshops as leading researchers in Work-integrated learning (WIL) gathered to talk about WIL as a catalyst for creating the sustainable knowledge society.

The World Council and Assembly on Cooperative Education (WACE) is an international organization that both works to develop and strengthen cooperative and Work-integrated education programs in academia and industry, but also coordinates research in WIL. University West is the regional office for WACE in Europe.

- WACE has been holding conferences since the late 1980s but the international research symposium has existed for approximately 12 years. I hope that the delegates have learned a lot, met new colleagues and that the conference leads to the development of richer research programs, says Norah McRae, professor at the University of Waterloo, and one of the co-chairs of WACE.

That Work-integrated learning has grown into a global research field became clear during the second day of the conference, which opened with a panel discussion on the state of WIL research around the world. The panel conveyed a sense of a "United Nations of WIL research" with input from researchers from Asia, Europe, Oceania, Africa and the Americas.

Although there are some differences in thematic priorities, the research is united around the core of WIL: human learning, how learning and working life should enrich each other, and how academia and the outside world, through research and education, together can tackle societal challenges and wicked problems.

- The presented projects and workshops at WACE IRS brought forward a broad range of WIL. The conference gave excellent opportunities for both informal and formal discussions that can lead to future development of WIL both as a research field and in education, says Kristina Areskoug Josefsson, professor of Work-integrated learning at University West.

What is required for WIL research to continue to grow and develop? The panel on stage raised several suggestions. WIL research needs to find a balance between quantitative and qualitative approaches. It also needs to become even more focused on cross-disciplinary collaboration as WIL can be applied to most sectors, subjects and professional areas.

But collaboration between the academy and actors outside the academy was also an area for improvement. It is not just about researchers needing to collaborate with companies, the public sector and organisations, but a collaboration is needed where partners outside academia are invited to create new knowledge. When those partners become  co-creators, the quality and impact of research increases.

- Research within the field of Work-integrated learning is important in order to investigate the outcomes of WIL and provide theory and evidence for development of good practice, says Norah McRae.

Read more about WACE here >>


For additional information or comments

Ulrika Lundh Snis

Ulrika Lundh Snis Professor