Hedda Alumni Spotlight: Joshua Eshuchi

Joshua Eshuchi is a  European Master in Higher Education alumni who graduated with the 2009 class.  Before joining the programme, Joshua obtained a Bachelor of Arts from Kenyatta University in Kenya.  He has previously worked at the Centre for Tourism Training and Research and UNESCO.  He is currently pursuing a PhD in Human Development at Bielefeld University in Germany.

Why did you choose to attend the Master in Higher Education at the University of Oslo?
After completing my Bachelors and working for almost two years, I felt that the time was ripe to pursue graduate studies. My goal in life as far back as I remember has always been to someday be a professor, so this was a natural step in pursuing my dream. At the time, I did not know anything about Erasmus Mundus and only had a rough idea about Norway’s location. I also knew that it was a cold, cold country. At some cultural event at the Goethe Institute in Nairobi, I met the DAAD lecturer at the University of Nairobi and she suggested that I apply for the Erasmus Mundus scheme, which was pretty new at the time. Somehow, from the list of almost 80 courses on the EM website, the HEEM program caught my eye and I sent my application, got accepted and within a few months my HEEM adventure had begun.

What are your main research interests in higher education and why?
My main research interest lies in the field of education and development, and not only limited to higher education. Development orthodoxy vaunts the role of education in contributing to socio-economic development in developing countries. Thus, my main interest is to examine the theoretical underpinnings of such hypotheses and of course the practical issues in pursuing development through education. My particular research interest lies in how development cooperation between the global North and South affects educational policy and practice in sub-Saharan Africa, as best exemplified by the Millennium Development Goals. My master thesis was a study of North-South cooperation in higher education, undertaking a case study of the NOMA program run by Norad/SiU.

Looking back at your experiences in the program, what would you say were the main highlight and challenge?
The nature and organization of the Erasmus Mundus program was one of the most pleasant experiences of the course. Having to study in three different countries was a logistical nightmare involving traveling thousands of kilometers with heavy luggage, but was also provided for some of the best experiences of my life, both academically and socially. The international blend of our study group was also one of the highlights. It was interesting that in a class of 25 people, we had more than 20 countries represented which ensured that I literally got to know the world, albeit in a microcosm. And of course Prof Maassen’s and Dr. Keski-Pettajaa’s seminars were a delight. The cold in Norway, coming as I was from a tropical country, was one of the main challenges but I soon learnt from John Fowler how to deal with that.

What inspired and lead you to your current studies?
Currently I am pursuing a PhD in Human Development at Bielefeld University in Germany. As mentioned earlier, my dream of obtaining a professorship in the future means a PhD is a prerequisite. After finishing my Masters, I worked for a short while on various projects in Kenya with USAID, UNESCO and US Peace Corps. However, I was set on pursuing an academic career, thus I applied for admission to Bielefeld University and was soon off to Germany. My main interest is to pursue further research on the link between education and socio-economic development in developing countries and a PhD offers an excellent opportunity. Moreover, the Research School I am affiliated to has various projects that offer practical experiences in research and teaching that are invaluable.

What advice would you give to aspiring and current students of higher education as to how to accomplish future aspirations?
Higher education is an exciting field with various subsets and opportunities. The best part about studies in higher education is that it can be combined with various interests and thus offers a truly multidisciplinary study field that can lead one to a future career in practically any organization, from a university to a think-tank to the EU, as exemplified by the career trajectories of HEEM alumni.