18 March 2020

My UEA Story: Francesca Gilbert

What course did you study? 

I graduated with a first class honours degree in BA International Development from UEA in 2018. I developed a keen interest in post colonialism and critical race theory, and thus several of my research papers/assignments are grounded upon these theories. I was honoured to win the Justin Graham Prize for an essay I produced for my Sub Saharan African Module, exploring to what extent colonialism can be held responsible for the failings of the state in post-colonial Africa. My Study was premised on the idea that the critical impediments to democratisation and institutional stability of the post – colonial Ugandan state are grounded in the legacy of the colonial administration, and are not inherent in the Ugandan state.  I went onto development me research into post colonialism and wrote my undergraduate dissertation on ‘Rethinking Racial Trauma: An examination of Colonialism, Transgenerational Trauma and British Higher Education.’ Grounded upon critical race theory, my thesis proposed that racialized trauma among the black British diaspora has become transgenerational through British institutions, one such institution being the British university. I argued that, in order to conceptualise the black attainment gap, one must deconstruct the British university to analyse the ways in which black students experience trauma in these spaces. My research featured in depth interviews with black students experience trauma in these spaces. My research featured in depth interviews with black clinicians, black professors, black students, and an exploration of my own identity as a student of Caribbean descent. This research has propelled me into spaces that I had never believed I could be in, and has opened several doors for me.  

How has your career developed since you graduated? 

Since graduating in 2018, I made the decision to continue my research into race and education, by preparing myself and my body of research for a master’s degree/ PhD in the near future. To achieve this, I used my research to position myself as an early researcher in critical academic networks, using my undergraduate research to connect with researchers who are leading in my field of interest. In May this year, I was a keynote speaker at the Early Careers Research Conference held at the University of East London. Due to the research I have produced at Undergraduate level, I have attracted the attention of several professors from a range of university who have agreed to mentor me throughout my journey as a prospective academic. My research has also attracted the attention of a few academic journals, such as The CIRCLE Journal of Impact Cultures (UEL) and radical research group at Goldsmiths University.  

Any advice for prospective students? 

You are in the right place to study this discipline! The UEA is one of the top universities in the UK for International Development studies, with a dedicated body of lecturers who are leaders in their fields. Make the most of your time here, connect with those lecturers who have the same research interests as you. This discipline is incredibly expansive and the modules will most definitely allow for an exploration of one’s particular interest in the field. Take a leap, be brave, and pursue your interest, as your research can have the power to open doors that you could never have imagined. This degree will provide an excellent insight into the political discourse of several contexts, and will challenge you as a researcher to think critically, deconstruct narratives, question, and develop your own ideas into a solid thesis – which in turn, will inform and possibly reconceptualise your own world view. It is an invaluable journey of academic discovery, and you will be armed with all the resources necessary to produce something wonderful. 



School of Global Development*