Panel Event: Moving towards a new approach to development-related research

From the 26th to the 28th March 2018 the Sustainable Futures in Africa Hub Coordinators and Administrators from Scotland, Malawi, Nigeria and Botswana met at the University of Glasgow.

The following items were on the agenda:

  1. Successes and Challenges of running the administration/infrastructure of the SFA Network Hubs
  2. Open Panel Presentation at the University of Glasgow
  3. Harmonization of Administrative Structures of the Network
  4. Strategic Needs and Direction for the Network

For more information you can read the report: Report SFA Hub Coordinators and Administrator Meeting April 2018

Glasgow Workshop
SFA Hub Coordinators and Administrators, University of Glasgow April 2018

 


Panel presentation

Sustainable Futures in Africa: Moving towards a new approach to development-related research

The Sustainable Futures in Africa (SFA) Network brings together researchers, practitioners, and communities from the Global North and Global South in one platform for learning, partnerships, and new approaches to research and development. Network hub coordinators from Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda, and Botswana join us for a panel discussion on the evolving practices of the SFA. In particular, the presentations and discussion will revolve around the challenges and possibilities of working across differences of discipline, sector, and geography. We promise a lively discussion, open to many perspectives, contexts, and questions.


Africa in Motion (AiM)

Africa in Motion (AiM) is an annual African film festival, taking place in Scotland, consisting of film screenings and complementary events. It was founded by SFA partner Dr Lizelle Bisschoff. Now in its twelfth year, AiM brings the best of African cinema to Scotland—making it possible for Scottish audiences to engage with African stories and industry professionals from the continent.  Our 2017 festival was a great success, attracting diverse audiences to events in both Edinburgh and Glasgow. We presented a varied programme with a range of genres and events, with over 80 films from 28 countries. The programme included a number of dine-and-view events that paired food with films from the continent, community screenings, films accompanied by panel discussions and Q&As, workshops and even a club night!

Diversity and inclusion is at the heart of Africa in Motion, and at the 2017 festival we further developed our efforts to create an inclusive festival programme. This is hugely important for AiM as 27% of our audiences come from a BAME background. Many of our events were free, and we offered free tickets for refugees and asylum seekers for paid screenings (in particular we partnered with the Unity Centre offering free screenings to their members). Our programme was also inclusive in terms of gender, with 18 of the films in the programme being F-rated, meaning they were directed by women and/or have a strong female focus.

For more information, see: www.africa-in-motion.org.uk

https://www.facebook.com/aimfilmfest/

 

https://twitter.com/AiMfilmfest


Scotland-Malawi Partnership: Further and Higher Education Forum

On Wednesday 20th September the Scotland Malawi Partner’s Further and Higher Education Forum met at the Edinburgh City Chambers. Here Dr Mia Perry shared the work that The Sustainable Futures in Africa Network is doing in Malawi including how both academics and NGOs from Malawi form part of this Network that is building capacity, infrastructure and research in socio-ecological sustainability in Africa. Dr Perry also represented colleagues from the University of Glasgow and shared information relating to MALBOP: Malawi – Biology of Parasitology, a interdisciplinary team based at the Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation at the University of Glasgow. Their synergy arises from open flow of information and ideas, from high quality of training, and from close involvement in research communities in both the developed North and the developing South.‌

Dr Mia Perry presenting the Sustainable Futures in Africa Network

Attendees Included:

Dr Perry described the event: “An interesting group of experienced scholars, practitioners, and stakeholders with long ties and connections, both personally and professionally in most cases, with Malawi. The delegates on this occasion were primarily rooted in health sciences, and discussion was largely focused on contributing aid, equipment, programme development to Malawi. Little conversation or project content related to a reciprocal relationship, except for that of cultural and historical ties. In contrast to many international development related networks, the historical and cultural connections of Scotland and Malawi are palpable in this community”

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBg06kOiHrE

For more information about the Scotland Malawi Partnership, visit: https://www.scotland-malawipartnership.org/

For more information about our partner Abundance, in Malawi - http://abundanceworldwide.weebly.com/malawi.html.

For more information about MALBOP: http://www.gla.ac.uk/researchinstitutes/iii/wtcmp/wellcometrustcentreforglobalhealthresearch/


Global Challenges: from poverty, to environmental protection, from gender equality to health

In the name of “development,” in the name of “aid,” in the name of “international research and innovation,” billions of pounds and dollars have been spent from the Global North on challenges materialising in the Global South: from poverty, to environmental protection, from gender equality to health. Countless academics and administrators have focused innovation, invention, programmes, and practices on supporting development in the “developing world.” I question how much longer we might fund and focus resource and expertise from the global north to help to “fix” the problems of the Global South.

This flow of aid money, resources, and increasing global morality and mobility is building ever broader pipelines between the Global North and South, and yet there seems to be a terribly unsettling consistent characteristic of this development (of this globality). The reality is that the Global North (and to be fair an ever-decreasing section of the Global North) becomes ever more powerful and prosperous, ever more resilient to climate change; and the Global South addresses an ever-decreasing area of fertile land, an ever-growing population of people living in poverty, and an ever-increasing threat of food security. For all of our good intention, and all of the promises of funding and expertise, our “global challenges” persist and increase.

Something surely is going wrong. Something fundamental is missing. And it is not good intention that’s missing, it is not intelligence, and it is not funding resources. Last year, the UK Government committed 1.5 billion pounds to research into Global Challenges. Much of this money has been taken directly from budget previously held by the Department for International Development. The investment has moved from resourcing initiatives on the ground through charities and regional projects in Development Assistant Category (DAC) Countries to resourcing research into challenges in these same places. To spend this money, many clever, ambitious, and well-intentioned academics will design, propose, and articulate research and innovation that promises to make the world a better place. Many of them will do this from their office or with a group of colleagues in and around their office. Some of them will travel and have conversations with partners “in-country” – all of them will be racing to prove their capacity to spend this money wisely and productively. It is this same Global Challenge Fund that motivated me and resourced me to facilitate and report on the first meeting of the Sustainable Futures in Africa Network.

I proceed with a determination: That this network, that this recipient project of UK Research Council funding, works differently, and works with difference.

Read more


Building Connections: Community-Based Environmental Sustainability in Southern Africa

On the 15 and 16 of December 2016 an International Symposium was hosted at the University of Glasgow, funded by the ESRC.  Building Connections: Community-Based Environmental Sustainability in Southern Africa. The event was organised and run by the University of Glasgow scholars, Dr. Mia Perry (School of Education), and Prof. Deborah Dixon of (Geographical and Earth Sciences), and aimed at fostering research collaboration and knowledge-exchange across disciplines and between institutions based in Scotland, Wales, Malawi, and Botswana. Invited participants included Dr. Boyson Moyo (agronomist, Malawi), Prof. Rebecca Lekoko (community and adult education, Botswana), Dr. Olekae Thakadu (environmental management, Botswana), Dr. Deepa Pullanikkatil (environmental management, Malawi), as well as Elson Kambalu (artist and film maker from Lilongwe, Malawi). The UK based institutions were represented by Dr. Marc Welsh (remediation and resilience in Malawi, Aberystwyth University), and the University of Glasgow academics, including Dr. Neil Burnside (interdisciplinary geoscientist), Dr. Alan Britton (environmental education), Dr Carlos Galan Diaz (research impact), Dr. Margaret Smith (multidisciplinary agro-chemist), Dr. Ian Watson (applied physicist) and Kasia Uflewska (cultural sociologist and Ketso intern).

The Symposium opened with remarks by Prof. Mike Osborne, Director of Research for the School of Education, University of Glasgow, and was introduced by Dr. Mia Perry and Prof. Deborah Dixon. The activities, aimed at knowledge-sharing and presentations, commenced with a panel discussion addressing the environmental challenges in Southern Africa, and were followed by a briefing on funding opportunities for global challenges. The subsequent afternoon workshops focused on issues related to the community engagement, arts and public pedagogies, geographical and Earth sciences, as well as the research methodologies. The first day closed up with heated discussions on the challenges and opportunities for cross cultural, and cross discipline research in Southern African environmental sustainability, as well as on affordances and challenges of interdisciplinary research among academics, politicians and community members.

The second day of the Symposium commenced with introductions by Prof. John Briggs, (Professor of Geography, Vice-Principal for the University, and Clerk of Senate) and aimed at formalising ideas, and forming potential partnerships. The diverse ideas, perspectives, and interest areas were explored holistically and creatively through an employment of an engagement toolkit, Ketso. A brief Ketso introductory workshop was conducted by Kasia Uflewska to support participants in carrying out an extensive Ketso afternoon session aimed at formulating final ideas, collaborations and partnerships. The Symposium concluded with a formulation of actionable plans, including groundwork-planning, bid writing, and potential research collaborations.