The SWAN project

This project created two swans reflecting CYGNA’s equal, inclusive, collective identity and the diversity of the network and its members.

This CYGNA project was led by Dr Christa Sathish and Dr Clarice Santos and funded by Dr Richard Berry, Head of School, School of Management and Marketing, The University of Westminster, Marylebone Campus, London.

This SWAN project is dedicated to Anne-Wil Harzing’s long lasting efforts in crafting and cultivating an equal, diverse, inclusive, and positive academia. As the core founder of the CYGNA Women in Academia Network, now close to its tenth birthday, Anne-Wil has provided a safe and inclusive space for female academics across nations. This safe space has helped the many female academics who Anne-Wil mentors and supports.

The two swans reflect CYGNA’s equal, inclusive, and collective identity, as well as the diversity of the network and its members. The first swan shows the logo/network name that was collaboratively created by the CYGNA founding team. The second swan aims to portray diversity, transformation and change of the network.   

A transdisciplinary, creative & innovative approach

This project originated from the initial idea, during a meeting with Clarice Santos, to take a new transdisciplinary, creative, and innovative approach to CYGNA on-site meetings. My love for creation and design kicked in and it was clear that we wanted to provide a hands-on experience. We wanted to really walk the talk to create real-life impact and awareness of equality, diversity, and inclusion in CYGNA and academia.

I have been inspired by our EDI lead Naseem Joban who introduced me to our school’s values and resources during my first days at the University of Westminster. I remembered one of our conversations about the opportunities that we have on our campus to create things with students by trying to collaborate with the Fabrication Laboratory. This is when I suggested that we could try to collaborate with the Fab Lab to create one simple wood cut SWAN as a component for one of our workshops. At that point it was a simple idea and Clarice and I had already alternative plans as I really did not know how to realise this. Then, during the summer, I tried to find out who I had to contact. After several emails to the wrong people 😉, I finally located David Scott who is in charge of the Fab Lab.

Although I thought it was time for celebration, I learned that I needed to find a student who was willing to be taught how to cut out the SWAN as the Fab Lab is a teaching laboratory. At that point Claire Robertson, who I met during my workplace induction, agreed to be one of our presenters. Claire is a researcher in Health Data Science and Disability Tutor, and she offered her kind support in anything that I need for the event. That’s when I thought to simply ask her if she knew a female PhD student who would be willing to participate in the SWAN cutting. Claire quickly found a Jacqueline Leon Ribas who happily agreed to support our CYGNA event. Jacqueline is a biomedical PhD researcher and found my proposal an excellent opportunity for her to create a well-being balance during her stressful PhD time. This is when the ‘cutting of one wooden SWAN’ turned into the ‘SWAN project’.  

Meet the SWAN project team

Stage 1 SWAN project

Stage 2 SWAN project

Stage 3 SWAN project

In the paint lab

Stage 4 SWAN project

Concluding the SWAN project

After presenting this at the CYGNA Neurodiversity Event, the Swan Project has come to an end we have two outstanding and unique CYGNA Swans. We would like to convey our sincere gratitude to Jacqueline who voluntarily supported this project. Without her this would have not happened. Thank you so much Jacqueline and I am sure our ways will cross again soon 😊.

We hope these Swans will remain CYGNA’s long term event mascots and reflect the positivity of the network 😊. The two different swans should always remind us that we are all different, have different powers and that collectively we can create beautiful projects and outputs across disciplines.

The swans mark CYGNA’s recent transitions, the diversity of the network and the soon to be celebrated 10-year anniversary. May the new CYGNA structure (see Cygna videos: expanding the team) and our new lead team move the inclusive and diverse network into a new creative, innovative, transdisciplinary, and sustainable era!

Reflections on the Transdisciplinary CYGNA Event

Through the completion of this project, we learned that CYGNA events involving academics, contributors and participants from different disciplines have several benefits:  

Shaping Innovative and Creative Thinking and Solutions 
Collaboration between different disciplines can promote an exchange of diverse knowledge and perspectives, which can foster innovative and creative event management. 

Holistic understanding 
Transdisciplinary events enable participants to gain comprehensive understanding of pressing issues by exchanging and integrating knowledge and action from different disciplines.  

Developing diverse competencies
Participants and organisers can develop skills and knowledge beyond their disciplines, which can enhance their professional versatility and adaptability.  

Effective Communication 
Engaging with diverse academics from different disciplines supports the communication of complex ideas between knowledge and action fields.  

Interdisciplinary Learning
Participants have the opportunity to learn from each other, building a positive and sustainable culture of continuous life-long learning.  

Promoting an Interconnected Equal, Diverse and Inclusive Network 
Transdisciplinary events can contribute to the development of fostering interconnected networks which can improve positive collaboration between different individuals, disciplines and networks in and beyond academia. 

Real-Life Impact 
Transdisciplinary projects can drive the practice-theory approach to knowledge exchange and action when addressing complex real-life problems. The merging of theoretical knowledge between disciplines can lead to fruitful actions within national and international HE settings.  

In sum 

The SWAN Project, led by Dr. Christa Sathish and Dr. Clarice Santos and funded by Dr. Richard Berry, was dedicated to Anne-Wil Harzing's efforts in fostering equality, diversity, and inclusivity in academia through the CYGNA Women in Academia Network.

This transdisciplinary initiative involved creating wooden swans to symbolize CYGNA's collective identity and the diversity within its network. Inspired by the EDI lead Naseem Joban, the project provided a hands-on experience to promote real-life impact and awareness of equality, diversity, and inclusion in academia.

The reflections on this transdisciplinary CYGNA event highlight the benefits, including shaping innovative thinking, holistic understanding, diverse competency development, effective communication, interdisciplinary learning, and promoting an interconnected, equal, diverse, and inclusive network with real-life impact.

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