Law and Society Blog

Seth Amofah: completing a doctoral studies was not a „one way traffic“

On March 13, 2023 Seth Amofah from the School of Governance, Law and Society defended the doctoral thesis "Emerging development cooperation for poverty alleviation: a study of an Estonian NGO in Ghana".



How did you find your research topic?

Having lived in Estonia just a couple of years at the time of deciding to pursue the PhD studies in 2017, I wanted to find a topic that connected Estonia and Ghana, my home country. I remembered that a year before that, I had come across a non-profit organisation working in Ghana and other parts of world from Telleskivi, Tallinn’s startup and innovation hub. In the summer of 2016, I had volunteered to have an internship with this organisation, MTÜ MONDO. The few weeks I worked there gave me the idea to research into the operational procedure of the NGO in Ghana and its benefit to both Estonia and Ghana. That resulted in my research topic.

How will your research change the world (even a little bit)?

The outcome of my doctoral study opens up a corridor for future research on how small develop countries are able to effectively collaborate with countries in the global south. It also provides practical alternative toolkits for development cooperation between NGOs from small developed countries and partners in developing and transitioning countries.

What were your tactics for consistently working on your doctoral thesis in order to successfully reach the end?

Completing a doctoral studies was not a „one way traffic“. The study field I researched in was a learning curve for me since it was almost a completely new study area as compared to my previous studies. I opened my mind to learn and accept constructive criticism from colleagues and professors within the field. That helped me to get a lot done quickly over a short period of time. My tactics was to read or write something about my research each day. That trick worked!

What was a memorable or funny instance that happened while writing the thesis?

At some point, I had to be in the university with my year old son almost everyday when working on the thesis. I remember one evening I needed to meet my supervisor at the Viimsi library to discuss the progress of my work and there was no one at home to take care of my son. Well, all three of us did the discussion together in the children’s play room of the library. It is a feeling I can never forget. Very emotional.

Based on your field of research, what does "intelligent lifestyle" mean for you?

Intelligent lifestyle is the ability to combine family and typical field research such as ethnographic studies together. In social science research, gaining the trust of the study participants without compromising the originality, validity and quality of the research data and findings is what I will consider inteligent at the end of the day. In ethnographic studies where the partcipant get direct contact with the various interests of the research, intelligence is what one need to be successful.

What is something you appreciate about your dissertation supervisor(s)?

Associate Professor Triin Roosalu is the order one needs in a choas situation. A lot of changes happened in my life during the span of my doctoral studies and my supervisor was there to support me in diverse ways. Just so you know, she travelled to Ghana to visit me when I was doing my second field work in 2019. That’s dedication. She is one in a million.