Mona Corinna Griesberg
University of Limerick graduate Mona Corinna Griesberg, who recently completed a master’s degree in Psychology of Global Mobility, Inclusion and Diversity in Society Picture: FernUniversität in Hagen/Hardy Welsch
Wednesday, 31 January 2024

In the next instalment of our Alumni Spotlight series, we speak to University of Limerick graduate Mona Corinna Griesberg, who was recently conferred with a master’s degree Psychology of Global Mobility, Inclusion and Diversity in Society from the Department of Psychology at UL’s Faculty of Education and Health Sciences.

This unique two-year programme, Global-MINDS, is designed to deliver high-quality international training in social and cultural psychology.

Mona is now working as a researcher and lecturer in the areas of social identity, social justice, diversity and inclusion at the Fernuniversität in Hagen, Germany and is about to pursue her doctorate degree.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself - where you’re from, your interests, your career journey so far in terms of your studies?

I grew up in Cologne, Germany. I did my bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of Bonn in Germany. Towards the end of my degree, I had the opportunity to study at Kalamazoo College in the USA. I then started the Global-MINDS master’s which is an Erasmus Mundus programme at UL. For me, it included a semester at the University Institute of Lisbon and at University of Limerick plus a research internship, teaching assistantship and my master's thesis.

What drew you to the Global Minds programme?

Global-MINDS is one of the few programmes focusing on social and cultural psychology and especially on discrimination and identity research related to migration and diversity. We don’t have any programme in Germany that covers these areas of research. Thus, I was very excited to learn about the programme. Its courses sounded very interesting and relevant to the social-political discourse. For me, the mobility component was a great plus since I had enjoyed living abroad before and saw it as a great opportunity to learn and grow.

What were the highlights or your favourite aspects of the course?

I appreciate that the programme had a small cohort of students who are passionate about social justice matters and lecturers who care deeply about the topics they teach. Bringing our different perspectives together was an opportunity for all of us to grow. I also appreciate that the programme enabled lots of flexibility and exploration in terms of places to stay, research topics, choice of an internship and managing responsibilities outside of academia.

What are the unique aspects of the course?

The students and lecturers on the course are passionate about connecting social/cultural-psychological concepts to current group dynamics, community issues, discriminatory experiences and more. This leads to interesting and fruitful discussions in and outside the classroom. The mobility component contributes to an intense time for each student and special connections among students.

What area did you focus on in your thesis?

My thesis was called ‘Plurisexuality: Belonging to the LGBTQ+ Umbrella and Coping with Intragroup Discrimination’. I explored the experiences of plurisexual women in Ireland, focusing on their sense of belonging to the wider LGBTQ+ umbrella, experiences of discrimination and coping strategies.

I conducted qualitative interviews which I transcribed and thematically analysed after. My research highlighted the unique position that plurisexual people hold within LGBTQ+ spaces, the challenges they encounter and the skills they develop while navigating those challenges. It also showed that structural changes towards the destigmatization and inclusion of plurisexual people are needed to increase the resources and well-being for plurisexual people.

Was there a challenging or difficult moment for you during your studies?

When political issues and violence arise in countries where you’ve lived before, where your family and friends live or that you feel generally connected to, it can be heartbreaking not to be there. It’s tough to be away from your family and friends while they are experiencing personal tragedies. To me, this is a big compromise that you make when studying abroad.

Are there any professors, mentors, or broadly people in UL or your life that have played a pivotal role in your academic and personal development?

The staff of Global-MINDS put so much effort into creating this programme and creating learning opportunities for the students. I feel especially grateful to Dr Anca Minescu who supervised my research internship and enabled my involvement in different events and projects. Also, Dr Ronni Greenwood did an amazing job supervising my master’s thesis and I’m grateful for how she guided me with kindness and clarity.

Furthermore, I’m grateful to the study participants who enabled the work I did for my master’s thesis, and to the alumni, alumnae and my classmates and friends from the Global-MINDS programme for their fantastic support – academically and personally!

What advice would you offer to students considering the Global Minds programme?

If you’re into psychology and social justice matters and up for moving across Europe, go for it! It will create many meaningful learning experiences for you and will connect you to amazing human beings. Use the opportunities to gain new perspectives, learn about different cultures and identities and learn about yourself too! Be aware, it’s a big privilege to take part in Global-MINDS, but it will come with its challenges too.

At UL, we’re known as the ‘Home of Firsts’ – are there any important ‘firsts’ that you experienced as a UL student, that you would like to share? 

Listening to Irish music for the first time, writing my first and only master’s thesis, attending my first big international conference, my first time presenting at a research lab, my first time celebrating Pancake Day and St Patrick’s Day and more.

What did you enjoy about UL and what is student life like here? What stands out as your most memorable experience?

I remember fantastic music nights at Scholar’s, relaxing picnics between study sessions, great food at the market on Tuesdays, good views from the library, nice walks on campus and fun trips to the surrounding areas. It’s hard to pinpoint one memory.

Were you a member of any clubs and societies?

I joined the music society and really enjoyed their jam sessions and open mics! I was also in touch with the feminist society and OutInUL who do important work for the community.

Could you tell us about your current work role?  

I am currently working as a researcher and lecturer at the Fernuniversität in Hagen, Germany. I’m in the community psychology department whose work closely relates to the topics that Global-MINDS covers. I’m involved in different research projects and teaching and supervision activities which all relate to social identity, social justice, diversity and inclusion. I’m also about to start pursuing my doctorate degree.

How will you bring what you learnt on the Global Minds Programme to this role?

I can incorporate what I’ve learnt into my future research and teaching activities, including methodological, social, cultural and emotional skills as well as knowledge about academic institutions, research partnerships and career development.

What are your future career plans?

Doing my part in bringing people together, sharing knowledge and resources and making the world a better place. I can see myself staying in academia and continuing to do research and to teach. Through that work, I hope to empower people, especially those of marginalised groups, to share knowledge and resources and to foster inclusion and collective care.