Kumar Attends Research Academy in Nepal

Vikash Kumar

NMU assistant professor of social work Vikash Kumar recently attended a "Research Academy on Migration, Health & Rights" in Kathmandu, Nepal. He has also been appointed to serve on an advisory committee for the International Consortium for Social Development's (ICSD) 24th Biennial International Conference, and reappointed as director of information technology for the ICSD.

The research academy focused on building conceptual and methodological clarity and skills around migration health, with a particular emphasis on mental health in precarious contexts and the intersections of social positions. Researchers, practitioners and policymakers from nine countries in South and South-East Asia, Southern Africa and the United Kingdom convened in Nepal. Participants and faculty included academics and policy experts from a range of organizations with explicit or implicit mandates for addressing the health needs and rights of migrants and refugees.

Kumar said the academy provided valuable insights and knowledge that will inform the social work courses at NMU. It also opens up opportunities for academic collaboration with researchers from various disciplines and creates new prospects for NMU students.

“Marginalized populations, including migrants, homeless people and domestic violence survivors often face numerous challenges, such as discrimination, language barriers and lack of access to services,” Kumar said. “These challenges necessitate a sensitive approach in research and practice. Incorporating participatory research methods into social work courses can provide students with hands-on experience in conducting inclusive and ethical research. This practical approach prepares them for real-world challenges.

“By incorporating these approaches, we can offer more relevant and impactful content, preparing students for contemporary social work practice. These approaches equip students with the skills and knowledge needed to navigate the complexities of working with marginalized and vulnerable populations.” 

During the research academy, several critical issues were discussed, he said. These included the adoption of participatory research, co-production of research output and involving participants in all stages of research.

“These approaches are particularly effective when working with migrant populations, which often require a high level of sensitivity,” Kumar added. “Participatory research involves engaging those affected by the research in the process, ensuring their voices are heard and their experiences inform the outcomes. This method contrasts with traditional research, where subjects are often passive participants.”

Kumar's bio on the ICSD International Conference Advisory Committee website states that he earned his doctoral degree in global health from Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh. His research during this time concentrated on implementing health programs targeting mental health issues and non-communicable diseases. His fieldwork, conducted across various public hospitals in Bihar, India, challenged entrenched old-world mentalities and introduced significant innovations.

Kumar also holds a master's degree in social work from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences. He is currently exploring ways to integrate technology and artificial intelligence into social work education and practice, enhancing the capacity of frontline workers, and advocating for policy improvements in nonprofit organizations. 

According to its website, the ICSD was started in the 1970s by a group of social work educators to respond to pressing human concerns from an international, interdisciplinary perspective. The organization seeks to develop conceptual frameworks and effective intervention strategies geared toward influencing local, national and international systems. It is committed to creating peaceful solutions to the problems of survival at the local, national and global levels. 

Kumar and other Research Academy attendees
Kumar and other Research Academy attendees
Prepared By

Kristi Evans
News Director

Categories: Around NMU, Research