From Nord to Yale

researcher with work
Kristin Berre Ørjaseter, PhD Candidate at Nord University, aimed sky high when setting out to build her own international network. And she hit a home run!

Ørjaseter ended up as visiting researcher at Yale University, the third-oldest higher education institution in the US, ranked as number twelve on the Times Higher Education list of the world’s best universities.

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Yale University was founded in 1701. (Photo: Yale University).

– I did not quite dare believe it, but Yale gave me a positive response straight away. The visit turned out to be a dream come true, says researcher Berre Ørjaseter. Her daily work is conducted at the Special Education Department at Nord University, Namsos campus.

Berre Ørjaseter is doing her PhD in Health Sciences at NTNU. Her dream came through thanks to her supervisor Ottar Ness.

- Ness encouraged me to seek towards the leading research communities in my field, which is Recovery. That narrowed it down to either England or the USA. In the end, we went for Yale, since Ness had contacts there.

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Dining with a guru

Berre Ørjaseter is back in Namsos today, however, the three weeks at the Medical Faculty of Yale University (School of Medicine)  has left its marks – and also proven to be a tremendous source of inspiration.

- Even though Yale is huge, I perceived the people who work there as very humble and easy-going. At the same time, I was probably a bit star struck, especially when I had dinner with Director Larry Davidson. I use several of his articles in my thesis, so it was very special for me, she says.

She also took the opportunity to write an article while at Yale, having Davidson both as a discussion partner an as a co-author. Now she encourages other researchers to do the same as her and apply for international visiting researcher positions.

- Stays abroad are useful for both inspiration and new ideas. Furthermore, they represent a good opportunity for making international connections within your area of research.

Increased emphasis on international networks

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Invaluable network: Kristin Berre Ørjaseter (right) with researcher Elizabeth Flanagan, PhD of Yale University. (Photo: Private).

Internationalisation is increasingly emphasized both in her industry, at her institution and her faculty at Nord University.

- A short-term research stay with research communities in your area of interest provides you with far more options than attendance at conferences does. A research stay means that you get to see how they work over time. I have connected with people I will remain in touch with for a long time ahead.

Involves users in research

The Nord doctoral research fellow conducts research on improvement processes for people with long-lasting mental health problems and on what significance being creative may have in this process, for instance through music and theatre workshops.

According to Berre Ørjaseter, this is a research area where Yale School of Medicine – Programme for Recovery and Community Health stands out through the way in which they involve both the local community and the users.

- Despite operating within the psychiatric field, they question the biomedical focus on mental health problems being a disease only implying that the individual is ill. They argue that society around them also plays a role and that it contributes to making people fall ill.

- Therefore, they work closely with local communities' health and social services, hospitals as well as low-threshold initiatives. They also run educational programmes for poor people and people who need assistance in returning to society following long-term stays in different institutions due to crime, addictions and/or mental health issues, she says.

Equal project members

- The most interesting aspect of it all is how they actively involve people with such personal experiences in their research programmes from the very start, as equal project co-workers.

- When starting up new projects, the starting point is always one of "We need someone here with personal experiences in this area, who can help build the project with us". It kind of goes without saying there.

Berre Ørjaseter is passionate about how we can cooperate to an even larger extent across areas of research.

- This focus is increasingly present in health research in Norway too; however, we have not quite found the ways and means yet. There is a great potential, she says.

Facts about the researcher

Name: Kristin Berre Ørjaseter

From: Namsos

Job: Doctoral Research Fellow in Special Education at Nord University, Faculty of Nursing and Health Sciences

Latest news: Recently returned home from a three weeks’ research stay at Yale University

Research areas and publishing

Translated from Norwegian by Elisabeth Bergquist.