I am a proud beneficiary of the Global School in Empirical Research Methods (GSERM) training offered by the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland. My name is Kennedy Musyoka, a Doctoral student at the United States International University (USIU) – Africa (www.usiu.ac.ke). GSERM was not only worth an experience but also a game changer for me!!
GSERM gave an opportunity of a lifetime in regard to my Attitude, Skills, and Knowledge. These were enhanced in a way that cannot be described. One has to attend the GSERM training to experience. My very special acknowledgments go to the Global Business School Network (GBSN), the Global School in Empirical Research Methods (GSERM) team, and University of St. Gallen for according me a wonderful scholarship opportunity. I would also like to extend my very humble indebtedness to Dr. Hans-Joachim, Sandra, and Nicole for organizing all the details and for ensuring a seamless flow of the program, from classes to social events. They were always available and prompt through email communication. Much appreciation also goes to Valeria for keeping us fit and for being with us during all the sporting activities, Nicole of GBSN and also to the USIU-A Doctoral Professor who introduced me to the opportunity in the first place.
I traveled thousands of miles to interact with people I had never met before. Before boarding the plane I remembered the region, from my high school geography classes that I was to call home for the two weeks in Switzerland. I thought to myself that it must have the steepest mountains I would ever climb. Contrary to my thoughts, Switzerland is a beautiful country with many mountain ranges. Part of my morning exercise was to climb the stairs (which was optional) to campus, which was a great way to interact with nature. The Swiss people are warm, helpful and very welcoming. I noticed that a Swiss would rather stop doing what they were doing to come and help someone in need.
Four things that make GSERM stand out are:
- The University of St. Gallen was the first German-language University in Europe to receive EQUIS and AACSB accreditation for their holistic education at the highest academic levels, both leading international seals of quality.
- GSERM is a high-caliber integrated generic program on methodology for Ph.D. students, postdocs and practitioners from leading universities all over the world.
- The courses are not only taught by renowned professors but are also offered in an attractive course-based learning atmosphere.
- St. Gallen is in a city which distinctively combines nature and culture, both fostering a better study-life balance.
What else could someone demand in doctoral studies surely? The benefits are just too many.
I enrolled for the analysis of survey research data which was taught by Prof Adam Enders and also the mixed method research class by Prof R. Johnson Burkes. The latter was the game changer for me. We formed peer committees composed of fellow Ph.D. students which operated like thesis committees. Committee members discussed, reviewed, critiqued, and helped improve each other’s work. On the last day, everyone turned in their brief research proposal and all students presented their proposed studies to the class. It was phenomenal, and the insights gave me so much to ruminate.
Before setting on my journey to Switzerland, I had just completed my course work and presented my concept paper therefore qualifying for the next phase which I would refer to as the ‘Purgatory of Research.’ GSERM, however, equipped me with the necessary tools to face the challenges in this phase. The modules were intense and rigorous which helped me to successfully reshape my DBA/Ph.D. proposal.
Away from the classes, the program entails a welcome dinner where you get a chance to interact with fellow participants, excursions, lecture series, sporting activities (volleyball and bratwurst) fun and Leisure at Drei Weieren. The city of St. Gallen has an outstanding reputation with many theaters, concerts, museums. The culture center, Lokremise, offers an attractive program. Abbey District which hosts the world-famous library reflects the thousand-year-old culture of the monastery district in an extraordinary way, and was incorporated in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1983. You will be spoiled with choices on the to do list. We visited a chocolate factory in Stafa, Rapperswill where we had an opportunity to not only eat free chocolates but also had a chance to make chocolates. For fitness lovers, the University has a world-class fully equipped gym and was free for GSERM participants.
GSERM is a package which will increase your capacity to adapt to different teaching methods, grow your horizons, gain new experiences, improve your skills and broaden your understanding of research while experiencing priceless culture and nature.