Learning for Sustainability: University-Community Nexus

By Anthony Kadoma, Research Administrator of the Ugandan hub; Reagan Kandole, ECOaction; and David Gerow

On 13 April, 2019, members of SFA’s Uganda hub jointed staff and students from Makerere University’s Department of Adult and Community Education for an environmental education field study tour. Two lecturers and 90 students participated along with SFA members Joseph Watuleke, Kevin Aanyu, Kellen Aganyira, Richard Kagolobya and Anthony Kadoma. The idea of the hub members collaborating with the university staff grew out of a monthly meeting held on 19 March.

The team visited three different but related innovation sites: ECOaction, an SFA partner in Uganda; United Innovations Development Centre (UIDC), a leading innovation and waste incubation centre in Kireka, a suburb of Kampala; and finally, Sezibwa, an eco-tourism site in the district of Mukono, Central Uganda.

The field study was guided by, but not limited to the following objectives:

  • To learn and appreciate innovative ways of turning waste into a resource;
  • To understand the ecotourism activities promoted at Sezibwa conservation area;
  • To explore the relationship between innovative conservation projects and their adjacent communities;
  • To generate ways of achieving environmental, economic and social sustainability in the areas visited;
  • To identify opportunities for recruiting new members to the SFA network

During this field study, observations were made by the SFA members, and interviews were conducted with key organization staff to learn more about what they did and the impact of their activities on the environment and on neighboring communities. Data was collected by taking photographs and short video recordings, especially during presentations. At the end of the tour, all 90 students filled out evaluation forms and handed them to the SFA team. This data will be analysed and will inform future actions and relationships with the visited organizations.

SFA believes in and promotes a multidisciplinary approach, and this field study offered the team a range of options on how to interact with different community members in various settings. Of interest was the presence of cultural healing sites at Sezibwa, where patients from different parts of the region came for prayers and healing. The waste incubation centre offered insights on how agricultural waste could be used to produce eco-friendly products such as briquettes, paper bags and envelopes. Beyond their environmental benefits, these innovations created employment for the youth and the neighboring communities, thus contributing to poverty reduction. The idea of exposing students to local environmental concerns when they are about to graduate university is important because it not only prepares them to become ambassadors of sustainable development in their respective communities, but it also challenges them to think critically and practice more sustainable and innovative ways of dealing with environmental waste.

For instance, in his address to the team, ECOaction’s founder, Mr. Kandole Reagan, painted a mind-opening, artistic picture, likening irresponsibly dumped plastics to “vomit” from excessive intake. This is a spot-on description: “vomit” consists only of what has been consumed! Who on earth ever liked their own vomit, let alone somebody else’s, except perhaps a dog? Logically speaking, why should we let the environment choke on our vomit?

At both ECOaction and at United Innovations Development Centre, an economic perspective was encouraged; the emphasis was on looking beyond waste. The economic value that lies in or beyond environmental waste can create an intrinsic motivation for preserving and conserving the physical environment while reducing poverty and unemployment through reusing, recycling and upcycling waste for economic benefits. What these organizations offer are innovative methods of environmental sustainability. Meanwhile, Sezibwa Eco-Tourism focuses more on conserving the natural green environment and cultural practices that ensure responsible use of natural resources such as tree spices, rocks, birds and water bodies, among other things. The students, lecturers and SFA members benefitted from visiting each of these sites, which demonstrate practical, innovative methods of sustainability.


Nigeria Hub's Field Visit to Itagunmodi – The City of Gold

By Grace Awosanmi – Research Administrator of Nigeria hub
Revision made by David Gerow

The Nigerian hub recently (April 2019) made a follow-up visit to Itagunmodi, an ancient but underdeveloped community of farmers famed as the “city of gold” in the Atakumosa West Local Government Area of Osun State.

Under the leadership of the Hub Director, Prof. Sola Ajayi, a team of 9 experts were involved in the field activity. They were drawn from First Technical University, Ibadan and Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. The team comprised specialists in Adult Education, Crop Production, Ecology, Geology, Geography, Remote Sensing, Youth Development/Psychology, and a bilingual Hausa-Yoruba-English interpreter.  The primary objective of the visit was to assess social and environmental changes in the community since the 2016 visit, during which time the community had witnessed an unrestricted influx of foreign and local migrant miners engaging in illicit gold mining, mostly coming from the northern part of the country. The assessment involved observations, key informant interviews, focus group discussions and the administration of questionnaires.

In the time between the two project visits, the community had been diluted. The miners who had previously lived outside the community have now settled in and make up about 75% of the population. Consequently, there has been an apparent shift in the social life and economic activities of the community. The new demographics have occasioned a shift in the kinds of businesses that exist, food preferences, music and even language. Rather than the miners learning the local language, indigenes were learning the miners’ language. The impoverished community members were jumping at the opportunity to make money from the miners without being mindful of the consequences. Home and land owners chose to rent out any available place/farmland to the miners, who are offering as much as four times the normal rates, and thereafter relocating to non-mining and safer communities. Particularly insightful were the discussions held with the women’s food vendor group, youths and other key informants in the community. Various concerns were raised over the recent developments: the invasion by artisanal miners from neighbouring communities, states and countries into their community; the negligence of the government; and the poor relationship between the residents and artisanal miners.

The field visit afforded the hub an opportunity to pre-test the questionnaires designed for a socio-economic and demographic survey and to strengthen relationships with the community through the identification of community representatives.


Mentoring impact story from Botswana Hub

By David Gerow

“I used to perceive myself as just a learner, but ever since I involved myself with the network, my worldview has really changed. Now I never see myself like an island. I just see myself as part of that bigger family, part of a bigger world. And I see myself as someone who can bring a change, whether big or small. I see that life is an exchange: you live together, you benefit from each other, you help each other.”

Goitse Mmeko, SFA Research Administrator for the Botswana Hub

Goitsemang Mmeko is the research administrator for Sustainable Futures in Africa’s (SFA) Botswana hub. She describes SFA as “a family of researchers from different backgrounds and disciplines with a common goal to achieve sustainable development by reaching out to communities and help solve problems through community engagement and involvement. A common goal is to have research impact, to leave impact out there in the communities.” But as well as impacting communities, Goitse credits SFA with having a positive impact on her own life, as she explained when she recently sat down with SFA co-director Dr. Deepa Pullanikkatil.

Goitse secured her Research Assistant (RA) position in March, 2017, just before SFA’s symposium in Botswana. She was a Masters student at the time, studying adult education. She graduated in 2018, an achievement she says was partly supported by her work with SFA, which has affected her worldview. “I used to perceive myself as just a learner,” Goitse says. “But ever since I involved myself with the network, my worldview has really changed. Now I never see myself like an island. I just see myself as part of that bigger family, part of a bigger world. And I see myself as someone who can bring a change, whether big or small. I see that life is an exchange: you live together, you benefit from each other, you help each other.”

The first major project Goitse collaborated on with SFA was the Botswana scoping study, which focused on human-wildlife conflict, particularly with elephants in a rural community at Mmadinare. Reflecting on her role in that project, Goitse says, “I’m so glad the hub coordinator involved me from the initial stage to the finish line. I was part of all the meetings, the community outreach, all the stages of the research trial.” Goitse was instrumental in establishing contacts with key stakeholders at Mmadinare. She contacted chiefs and sub-chiefs, members of the Village Development Committee, the Wildlife Department, Members of Parliament and non-governmental players. These contacts contributed not only to making the scoping study a success, but to Goitse’s own Masters: “It is out of this project, especially conducting the trials, that I started having my thesis idea.”

Goitse’s thesis is entitled Community Participation in Sustainable Tourism, and she considers her work on the Botswana scoping project an important factor in enabling her to conduct the necessary interviews for her research. “My entry point was the local leaders, whom I had already met (through the scoping project).

“That’s why my research was so fast-tracked, because I had already bonded, I had good relationships, I had established myself as a researcher.” These relationships made Goitse the only Masters student among the five in her department who managed to graduate within the projected time. “Indeed it was a miracle,” she says with confidence.

Goitse is quick to attribute some of the credit for her academic growth to her supervisor, SFA member MmaB Modise. “I’m grateful to MmaB because she mentored me in a lot of things. Nowadays, I am able to just draft a report and take it to her, then she edits and finishes it. Before I joined the SFA, I couldn’t even write a report.” Goitse also researches funding opportunities to present to MmaB and her colleagues, who make Goitse responsible for the application process. She then discusses her applications with MmaB and achieves a better understanding of how to find and obtain funding, another key skill that Goitse has developed with SFA.

Goitse also credits her SFA involvement with improving her communication skills and helping her learn about the world of IT-based communication platforms. Prior to securing her RA position, she primarily used IT to facilitate her learning, but she has now “seen the value” of e-platforms like Skype and has gained experience managing Google Drive, as well as blogging on behalf of SFA. Just as the SFA has benefitted Goitse, she has also benefitted the network with her hard work, her intelligence and her positive attitude. In the long-term, Goitse’s work with SFA has opened new horizons for her: “Now my worldview has expanded. I never thought I could be part of the academic world, but since I joined, I’m aspiring to do my PhD, I’m aspiring to write articles for journals. This has really developed me and I have no fear of doing my PhD. I’m so inspired.”


Transforming International Development

By Dr Mia Perry and Dr Deepa Pullanikkatil

A great article written by our Co-Directors and entitled “Transforming international development” was recently published in the Impact publication (IMPACT Volume 2019, Numero 1 – February).

This piece was produced by Science Impact to help the SFA network communicate the objectives and work of the project in a more easily understandable and accessible language to a wider audience of stakeholders, enabling widespread dissemination.

You can access it by following this link:
https://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/sil/impact/2019/00002019/00000001/art00010#

** The article can be downloaded in a pdf format.

ABSTRACT

THE SUSTAINABLE FUTURES IN AFRICA (SFA) NETWORK The Sustainable Futures in Africa (SFA) Network is an interdisciplinary collective that brings together researchers, educators, and communities of practice that acknowledge the situated and complex nature of practices and conceptions of sustainability. The Network aims to build understanding, research, and practice in socio-ecological sustainability in Africa. Specifically, the Network includes the participation of researchers (from geography and earth sciences, community and adult education, applied social arts, health sciences, and engineering); third-sector organisations (working with environmental and social sustainability, with arts and cultural practice, and with community engagement in African contexts); and community stake-holders (living and working in areas of focus). Participants currently span the Uganda, Botswana, Nigeria, Malawi, and the UK, and the reach of the network continues to expand. THE NETWORK’S AIMS ARE: To address the relationship between social, cultural, and ecological factors in sustainability in Africa through interdisciplinary research initiatives To discover opportunities in the disparities between ontologies of the global north and the global south inherent in international collaborations and global endeavours To shape and support new opportunities for impact and inquiry that address locally-articulated, socio-ecological challenges The Network’s current infrastructure includes a website (https://sustainablefuturesinafrica.com/) and social media platforms; a growing base of research, funding to support knowledge sharing and capacity strengthening (ESRC, EPSRC & SFC); and a core group of scholars, practitioners, and support staff who are providing the leadership and administration of this initiative.


“Development”: Rethinking an Overused Word

By Dr Mia Perry, Dr Deepa Pullanikkatil and David Gerow

“Development” is one of the most overused words in any language, often reflecting progress, aspiration and something that ought to happen. But is there consensus on what development really means? Thirty-eight members of Sustainable Futures in Africa (SFA) discussed this question during an eight-hour bus journey from Entebbe to Lira, Uganda in February 2019. We were in Uganda for the third annual symposium of SFA, an interdisciplinary network across the UK and Africa that aims to build understanding, research, and practice in socio-ecological sustainability in Africa. This word cloud was made from the keywords that emerged in our discussion.

Word Cloud: keywords used by members discussing “development”

The word “development” originated in the 16th century from the Old French développer and/or desveloper, meaning “unroll”, “unfold”, “unveil”. It is no longer used in this sense, and it has acquired many definitions in modern usage.

One of the earliest definitions was given in 1978 by the French economist François Perroux. He defined development[1] as “the combination of mental and social changes among the population which decides to increase its real and global products, cumulatively and in a sustainable manner.” In A New Concept of Development (1983), Perroux argued that development “represents a dramatic growth of awareness, a promise, a matter of survival”, and he identified its root as personal development – “the freedom of persons fulfilling their potential in the context of the values to which they subscribe and which they experience in their actions”. His understanding of development places importance on the role of human/cultural values in progress, either economic or otherwise.

The words “growth” and “development” have often been used interchangeably in economic discussion. Some might say that development is positive growth. Members of SFA mentioned “growth”, “growing”, “steady-growth”, “positive”, “positive action”, “positive change”, and “positive transformation” when they discussed the word “development”.

A wider definition related to social, economic and political changes in society was put forth by scholars such as Todarro (1981) and Tayebwa (1992), who discussed development as a multi-dimensional process beyond economic development, economic welfare or material wellbeing that includes improvements in economic, social and political aspects of a whole society, such as its security, culture, social activities and political institutions.

Participation and Equity

This people-centred approach to development has been promoted by many organizations, such as the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), where local people participate in their development process. SFA members seem to agree on the participatory and people-centred aspects of “development”. Such keywords emerged as “Community-specific”, “Collaboration”, “Community-owned”, “Teamwork”, “People-driven”, “People-managed”, “Capacity development”, “People-focused”, “Co-developed”, “Participatory”, “People-driven”, “Bottom-up”, “Working together”, “Stakeholder-driven”, “Homegrown” and “Community-driven”. Members felt that development should be “Culturally appropriate”. They also mentioned that “Cultural hegemony” – the dominance of one social group over another – must not be part of development. In the same vein, the words “Equality”, “Equity”, “Common good”, “Diversity” and “Inclusive” were mentioned, implying that development must be just and fair. As well, the politics of a country has profound implications on development and it is important to understand the political drivers behind development. This aspect was evoked by some members who mentioned “Good governance”, “Political will”, “Ownership” and “Government-owned”.

SFA members during the journey to Lira, Uganda

Quality of life and sustainability

Tackling inequity is a development goal on its own and it may ell start with poverty reduction, the focus of most development agencies. Members mentioned “Wellbeing”, “Improve life”, “Needs-based”, “Basic needs”, “Livelihoods enhancement”, “Better way of life”, “Quality of life”, “Improving lifestyles”, “Decent livelihood” and “Empowerment”. To achieve improvements in human well-being, the natural environment is key as it provides the necessary resources. We have realised that development which exploits the environment is wreaking havoc on the planet and we need to find a balance between growth and environmental sustainability. Development must take place alongside caring for the environment and in this light, “Environmentally sustainable”, “Balanced” and “Resource use” were mentioned by members.

 Capacity strengthening and positive change

Innovation, learning and knowledge-sharing are key enablers of development. Members mentioned “Share knowledge”, “Innovation”, “Mindset change”, “Innovative practices” and “Capacity development”. But acquired knowledge and skills are not the only important things; the softer aspects also matter. In Amartya Sen’s highly acclaimed Development as Freedom (1999), he argues that human development is about the expansion of citizens’ capabilities. For Sen, freedom means increasing citizens’ opportunities and access to things they have reason to value. SFA members identified “Freedom”, “Aspired transformation”, “Transformation”, “Positive transformation”, “Self-Actualization”, “Satisfaction”, “Peace” and “Happiness” as aspects of development that they valued, all of which are worthwhile goals for development.

The SFA team about to board the buses at Makerere University to travel to Lira

The majority of the definitions of “development” have come from economists and politicians. SFA is a multi-disciplinary network and believes that “development” is a multi-layered word and can mean different things in different contexts. Defining this word using a narrow economic lens or implying that increased consumption equals development has led the world to unsustainable exploitation that threatens the planet itself.

There are numerous definitions of the word “development” and SFA does not aim to add another to the pile. However, we would like to stress that when we use this word, we do not presume that any worldview or culture is superior to another or that all countries should follow a set pattern or have common indicators of “development”. Instead, we like to think that development must be defined by communities themselves, and each country, each community and each person may define it differently. Ultimately, development has to lead to a better outcome for the globe, humans and the environment. It ought to reduce poverty, reduce inequities, be culturally appropriate and community specific, nurture nature, and be owned by and relevant to people and place. Let us rethink the word “development” in order to enhance the well-being, freedom, peace and happiness of each and every one of us and the planet as a whole.


[1] 1978, L’équilibre des unités passives et l’équilibration générale des unités actives”, Economie Appliquee.


What Does “Sustainability” Mean?

By Dr Mia Perry, Dr Deepa Pullanikkatil, and David Gerow

Our network is called “Sustainable Futures in Africa” or SFA. It has members from Botswana, Malawi, Uganda, Nigeria and the United Kingdom representing various disciplines, from educators to artists to administrators to NGO practitioners to scientists from various fields. Our common binding force is that we are critical thinkers who deeply care about research and practice in socio-ecological sustainability in Africa.

This year we held our third annual SFA symposium in Lira, Uganda, in a rural location at a lodge that is completely powered by solar energy and sources locally made food. The idea was to “walk our talk” by trying to make our meetings more “sustainable”. On day one of the symposium, thirty-eight participants (members of SFA) rode in a bus from Entebbe to Lira on an eight-hour journey, which allowed us to engage in what we called “Bus Talks”. During these talks, we explored what the word “sustainability” meant to each of us. This word cloud is a visual representation of the vocabulary used in the discussions.

The word cloud: a visual representation of words emerging from discussions on “sustainability”

We believe “sustainability” does not (and should not) have just one rigid definition. Hence, we explored the many definitions of this word, which is often overused loosely as a buzzword. SFA members like to keep a questioning, critical mind, and at the symposium, all members agreed that SFA is not an “echo chamber”. We welcome alternative ideas – in fact we thrive on them. This blog post doesn’t propose a new definition of sustainability, but highlights what SFA members care most about when we talk about this word. As a collective, we are trying to develop a deeper vocabulary, beyond the buzzwords that inevitably become diluted across languages, cultures, disciplines, and sectors.

The most common definition of sustainability is in the document “Our Common Future” by the Brundland Commission in 1987: “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” This document provided the ecological definition of sustainability. It also highlighted the fact that resources are finite and need to be preserved for future generations.

The preservation of resources

Some of the key words and phrases suggested by SFA members during the “Bus Talks” that agree with the Brundland Commission’s definition were: “Ability to sustain populations”, “Balance between using and protecting resources”, “Benefit future generations”, “Caring for ecological system”, “Intergenerational”, “Maintain ‘everything’ for future generations”, “Only necessary use of resources”, “Present and Future generations”, “Preservation of resources” and “Resources not depleted for future use”. These words emphasize the meeting of needs, as opposed to wants, and place a clear focus on intergenerational equity.

Enhancing natural systems

In the early 1990s, recognizing that sustainability affects most areas of human activity and is intrinsically complex and multi-disciplinary, scholars began to think about it using the systems approach. This highlights the linkages among population, environment, and development and examines the causes of environmentally unsustainable development. Looking at the world as a socio-ecological system and recognizing its linkages and inter-connections is something that SFA strongly believes in, and thus we promote inter-disciplinary work. During the Bus Talks, the linkages and words that support a systems approach included “Caring for ecological systems”, “Keeping the population at a sustainable level”, “Enhancing natural systems”, “Sustainable food systems” and “Sustainable production”.

SFA Members boarding the buses after a stopover mid-way to Lira

Continuity

When discussing the meaning of a word, it would be remiss to not talk about its dictionary definition.  Sustainability’s meaning in the Cambridge Dictionary is the “quality of being able to continue over a period of time” and “the quality of causing little or no damage to the environment and therefore able to continue for a long time”. Statements and key words from SFA members that echo this definition were “Being able to carry something forward”, “Continuity”, “Continuous output”, “Keep something going”, “Self-perpetuating without external intervention”, “Balance between using and protecting resources”, “Preserve resources” and “Preserving and balancing”.

Engaging in meaningful discussions about sustainability during this long bus ride was not only a good use of SFA members’ time, but also helped us find the many meanings of a single word. Other keywords used by members which do not neatly relate to the definitions mentioned above included “Culturally appropriate”, “Community self-sufficiency”, “Diversity”, “Equality”, “Freedom”, “Harmony and balance”, “People in charge of their destinies”, “Happiness”, “Reflection”, “Preserving and balancing”, “Peace” and “Wellbeing”. One member summed it up as “Living in a community in a way that we could live forever”.

All the keywords discussed here could be packaged as synonyms of “sustainability”. But for the SFA, sustainability is not just a concept or a word, and we have come to realize that it is too diverse to define. Perhaps the focus should shift from defining it to living it. Perhaps we need to look at it as a way to be aware and sensitive, to reflect, be critical, encompass wider contexts, and integrate these actions into our work and everything we do. Sustainability, like most complex concepts, is insufficiently represented by a single word, but should prompt us to reflect on what kind of world we want to live in and how can we contribute towards achieving that.


Week of March 4th-8th 2019 – SFA Writing Workshop and Events on Campus

Realising the increasing awareness and experience of network members in carrying out global north-south partnerships that challenge paternalistic and neo-colonial models of collaboration and development, we realised we needed to find a way to share some principle ideas and practices to a wider audience. Initially, we imagined the audience of the GCRF UKRI, funders and researchers. In the week of March 4th-8th, we addressed this with a writing workshop co-organized by Dr Mia Perry and Prof Jo Sharp including SFA members and like-minded affiliates. The objective of the workshop was to explore ways of sharing the SFA network’s approach to research and partnerships in international contexts, while challenging the neo-colonial and often very narrow processes of knowledge creation, “development”, and collaboration. The group was interested in the theoretical tools that are required to do so, but also the practical tools (how to engage, how to inquire when clear power, historical, disciplinary dynamics are pervasive).

Events on campus March 4th, 2019

Two events co-organized by the SFA Glasgow hub took place on UofG main campus on March 4th. The morning event was a mentoring session for graduate students from the Global South. Masters students, PhD’s students and mentors (Dr Mia Perry, Prof Jo Sharp, Dr Brian Barrett, Ms Helen Todd, Ms Kevin Aanyu, and Ms Beatrice Catanzaro) discussed how students can translate their graduate experience in Glasgow to a career in the South. A very interesting conversation revolved around a question asked by Dr Perry: “Do you want to go back home after your studies?” The meaning of “returning home” for each student differed, and highlighted the very individual nature of it. For the majority, going back home wasn’t just about going back in their home country and getting a job related to their studies. It was also, and even more importantly, taking the knowledge, skills and expertise they acquired and using them to drive change and make impact.

The afternoon session was a panel discussion entitled: ¡Decolonise: the Debate! The event was organised by collaboration between The Sustainable Futures in Africa Network, the Glasgow Centre for International Development, the Equality and Diversity Working Group in the History Subject Area, and the Centre of Gender History. Prof Jude Robinson, a social anthropologist from the University of Glasgow, chaired the session.

The panel was composed of: Dr Mia Perry (University of Glasgow), Prof Jo Sharp (University of Glasgow), Ms Helen Todd (ArtGlo – Malawi), Ms Kevin Aanyu (Makerere University – Uganda), Dr Christine Whyte (University of Glasgow) and Dr Kate Law (University of Nottingham).

The discussions were centred on these three questions: 1) Why do we use the word ‘decolonialise’ when we talk about the changes we need to make to modern approaches to research and teaching? 2) Does use of the word ‘decolonialise’ reinforce a colonial narrative of Western supremacy? and 3) How can we translate ‘decolonisation of research and teaching’ and what does it mean for all of us who are engaged in it?

The panel discussed the use of term ‘decolonise’ to describe projects in universities which are challenging traditional practices that have underpinned international partnership building and collaboration, and the development of existing teaching curricula. They addressed language, technology, theoretical framing, and research methods from a global perspective.

Writing workshop at the Centre of Contemporary Arts (CCA) in Glasgow

All week, interdisciplinary participants met at the CCA in Glasgow to share thoughts and ideas around research and international partnerships to co-create the foundation of a notebook addressing the challenges arising from Global North-Global South partnerships. The targeted audience of the notebook is researchers working on international projects, especially the GCRF-UK funded one (Global Challenges Research Fund).

Some clear themes stood out over the week: time, money, capacity building, language and hierarchy in partnerships.

List of participants:

  • Dr Mia Perry (Co-PI – University of Glasgow – UK)
  • Prof Jo Sharp (Co-PI – University of Glasgow – UK)
  • Kevin Aanyu (Makerere University – Uganda)
  • Dr Brian Barrett (University of Glasgow- UK)
  • Beatrice Catanzaro (Oxford Brookes University ­- Italy)
  • Viviana Checchia (CCA – UK)
  • Vanessa Duclos (University of Glasgow – UK)
  • Prof Dan Haydon (University of Glasgow – UK)
  • Dr Heather McLean (University of Glasgow – UK)
  • Prof Oitshepile MmaB Modise (Botswana University – Botswana)
  • Maggie Ritchie (free-lance journalist – UK)
  • Prof Jude Robinson (University of Glasgow – UK)
  • Dr Zoë Strachan (University of Glasgow – UK)
  • Helen Todd (ArtGlo – Malawi)
  • Dr Shahaduz Zaman (University of Sussex – UK)

To illustrate the challenges of such partnerships, two participants could not join the group, due to UK visa restrictions (Dr Deepa Pullanikkatil and Kyauta Giwa).


Malawi Stories: Mapping an Art-Science Collaborative Process

Three SFA partners – Dr Deepa Pullanikkatil (Co-Director), Dr Boyson Moyo (Malawi hub Director) and Dr Brian Barrett (Glasgow hub Director) co-authored this open access article as part of SFA (published in the Journal of Maps in March 2019).

ABSTRACT

This paper outlines a project drawing together an artist working on creative GIS, a geomatics scholar, an NGO leader, a rural geographer and soil scientist, an environmental geochemist, and a political geographer. With a shared interest in the social and physical processes affecting people’s lives in Malawi, and the possibilities for interdisciplinary collaboration, the team engaged in practice-based mapping of our data sources and respective methodologies. The project relates to two sites in Malawi: Tikondwe Freedom Gardens and the Likangala River. The paper details our practices as we shared, debated, and repurposed our data as a means of situating these practices and data. Using paper and pen, whiteboard, PowerPoint, and web-design software, we note here our effort to map a ‘space of experimentation’ highlighting, and reflecting on, our diverse disciplinary orientations, training, instrumentation, recording, and reporting procedures, as well as bodily practices that enable and give animation to these factors.

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17445647.2019.1582440


Scots Join The Worldwide Effort to Help Africans Find New Ways to Rebuild Their Communities Shattered by Brutal Civil War

Article written by Maggie Ritchie – free-lance journalist who joined the Glasgow delegation traveling to Lira, Uganda in February 2019 for the 3rd SFA Annual Symposium. While in Uganda, she had the opportunity to meet with the communities involved in SFA activities through two partners: Apala Widows and Orphanage Centre (AWOC) and ECOaction.

https://www.sundaypost.com/fp/scots-join-the-worldwide-effort-to-help-africans-find-new-ways-to-rebuild-their-communities-shattered-by-brutal-civil-war-and-desperate-povertylife-was-very-difficult-it-is-better-now/