What we did in 2020
2020 was a challenging year for Danida Fellowship Centre, as it was for people and organisations throughout the world. The COVID-19 pandemic stopped us from conducting our activities the way we have in the past, but also inspired us to find new solutions to the challenges facing us. The COVID-19 crisis reminded us of the necessity to innovate and to think outside the box. As we move on, we will remember how important it is to create an environment that is conducive for innovative thinking.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we could not implement the greater part of our in-person training courses in 2020. Only eight in-person training courses in Denmark were fully or partly implemented, six were cancelled, nine were postponed. Two in-person training courses were held in Burkina Faso for partners from francophone West Africa.
The challenges, however, also inspired us to develop new methods. Twenty training courses were redesigned and implemented as online courses, and 49 students attended online summer school programmes run by Copenhagen and Aarhus Universities. From our experiences, we conclude that although online training cannot adequately replace in-person training, it can be an excellent complement to in-person training. It can also play a vital role in the preparation of in-person learning and training modules and in their follow-up. Online elements in blended learning programmes are therefore here to stay – also post COVID.
The COVID-19 pandemic also affected our research management portfolio. Travel restrictions stalled the progress of many research projects, affecting in country field visits and exchange visits between countries. Up-start meetings for new research projects had to be conducted online. A common piece of feedback on online meetings was that while it was relatively easy to discuss the organisation and planning of an already agreed strategy in online meetings, they were inadequate for strategy discussions or for meetings, where the possibilities for new partnerships were to be explored. Some research projects also experienced that a number of short online planning meetings spread out in time were more productive than, for example, a two days intensive in-person planning workshop. The short and spaced meetings allowed all participants to digest and reflect on issues discussed at one meeting before the next meeting began.
Towards the end of 2020, we introduced a new online application system for research project applications in 2021 and onwards with the aim of digitising and improving the user friendliness of our services.
Synergies and knowledge sharing for all
In 2020, we developed a new strategy for 2021-2025. The strategy is inspired by input received from the Board of Danida Fellowship Centre and in online meetings and consultations with partners from around the world, partners whom we might never have “met”, had we not been forced to find alternative options to the traditional in-person meetings involving much travel time and many financial resources.
The title of the new strategy is “Knowledge in Action”. It builds on previous experiences of how Danida Fellowship Centre supported the transformation of the knowledge gained through our activities into action in Danida partner organisations and communities. In 2020, a three-year “Knowledge in Action” grant from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs enabled us to begin supporting knowledge sharing training and events with the objective of securing better up-take of research results.
In 2020, our Bridging the Gap – Science for the Public training workshops for researchers and journalists about the communication of research results were redesigned for online training and they were successfully implemented in two versions – one for Danish researchers and one for research partners from around the world.
We also piloted a number of online Danida alumni webinars, in which some alumni members shared their knowledge with other alumni, and we streamed the Danida Alumni Prize 2020 directly on Facebook. The Danida Alumni Prize was awarded to Peter Okwoko, MSc in Innovative Communication Technologies and Entrepreneurship, Aalborg University, 2017, for his quick, highly innovative and sustainable response to the COVID-19 crisis.
Below please read more about our results and further Facts and Figures 2020.