A guest blog from Norwegian researcher Kjersti Wessel Jevne

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My stay at the University of Glasgow took place over eight weeks from February- April 2023. It all began with nearly finishing my PhD and being given the possibility to do an exchange to another University in Europe before delivering my thesis. The aim of the exchange was to connect to other research-groups and share experiences and knowledge within common research fields. I also had the intention to present my PhD work to any groups or researchers that were interested.

I am a lecturer and PhD-candidate at the Inland University of applied sciences in Norway. My PhD is about emerging adults with Downs syndrome in the transition to adulthood.  I explore how the young adults and their parents experience academic and social issues during their compulsory education, how they reflect upon the transition to work life and what they consider as important when it comes to living an adult life that is based upon good quality of life and wellbeing. The aim of my PhD is also to describe how these young adults’ experiences in everyday life are affected by structures in society and how this again influences  young adults with Downs Syndrome`s capabilities, and their opportunities to become agents in their own life.

The first day at the University, I entered the brand-new Clarice Pears building and the School of Health and Wellbeing in Glasgow’s West End. Here, I met researchers at the Scottish Learning Disabilities Observatory (SLDO). SLDO is working to build understanding of the cause of health inequalities experienced by people with intellectual disabilities. Through their recent collaborative campaign with people with learning disabilities and third sector partners, This is Me: Valuing the lives of people with learning disabilities’  , SLDO also want to increase public awareness of the experiences of people with learning disabilities. This has a strong link to my work and issues I am concerned with in my PhD. I have interviewed young adults and their parents to get their own subjective experiences about their daily life. What the young adults tell about their life situation gives perspectives about how to improve practice in relation to people with intellectual disabilities. The young adults and their parents often feel excluded and not given the same opportunities as people without intellectual disabilities. This is an important objective also for the Observatory, with a major focus on addressing the inequalities experienced by people with intellectual disabilities. 

The University of Glasgow has a solid research network that carries out research within a broad field of disability studies. I met researchers working in the SHW who shared their research with me, and they also linked me to other organisations and research-groups that have showed interest in further collaboration. Several opportunities have therefore been put forward during my stay here. I got the opportunity to present my work both to the Disability and Youth Transitions at the Glasgow University, and the Down’s Syndrome Scotland.

All the conversations and discussions with the staff at SHW have given inspiration for further cooperation and ideas of developing common research projects with the Observatory. This also gives me the opportunity to bring back ideas to my own research group at my University in Norway, and hopefully connect my research group together with researchers at the SHW. Thank you for giving me be the possibility of being a part of it! Kjersti W. Jevne